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Posts by Gina

Are You Dreading Sunday?

Posted by on Nov 1, 2017 in Ministry, Volunteers

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

Posted originally on Orange Leaders

Can I tell you a secret?

I used to dread Sundays. Like, I really hated Sundays.

It’s an odd place to be for a leader in children’s ministry. It’s like playing on the basketball team and loving the practice yet dreading game day. I loved what I did. The vision and impact of my work always fueled me.

But Sundays felt more like Report Card Day. The day I found out just how well I did the previous six days. The day I received a grade on all my planning, communicating, and organizing for the week.

Remember report card days as a kid? I’ll never forget them. Some report cards were easy to deliver to my parents. The A’s and B’s felt light in my backpack as I floated on air all the way home. Then there were the report cards weighted down with C’s and D’s (maybe even an F!). My bag felt like a ton of bricks. I’d hand over the report card with my stomach in knots knowing the punishment in my future.

Read more here.

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I tried to quit… every Monday

Posted by on Oct 30, 2017 in Leadership, Ministry, My Life

I tried to quit.

A few times.

Most of the time, I quit in the mirror.

Only once did I verbalize that to my boss.

I tried.

But never successfully. Never seriously.


Because I didn’t want that to be my story. I had to decide at some point that I wouldn’t quit. At least not on Monday. 😉

Jessica Bealer and I share a little here about how we wanted to quit, but refused to give up on what God was doing in and through us in ministry. Find out more in our book Don’t Quit and see how the best things in ministry come over time.

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Leadership Resiliency & why it matters

Posted by on Oct 24, 2017 in Leadership, Ministry

Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

Resiliency is a leadership game-changer. Our ability to recover from critical feedback, unmet expectations & failed outcomes is the difference between thriving and languishing in leadership.

If asked whether you want to win or lose, I think most of us would say we want to win as leaders. No one sets out hoping their leadership declines over time… yet, [bctt tweet=”my leadership influence has been negatively impacted during seasons of low-resiliency.” username=”gina_mcclain”]

What can low resiliency cause? I think it has several ripple effects, but here are 3 easy-to-identify ripples that feed into each other. If you can tackle one of these, you’re set to arrest all three and turn them around.

Ripple #1: Feeds a Negative Perspective One outcome of low-resiliency is your outlook on your circumstances. It’s impossible to have low-resiliency and a positive perspective at the same time. They can’t coexist. In fact, your perspective feeds your resiliency and your resiliency feeds your perspective.

Ask yourself: What leadership challenge are you tempted to sweep under the rug, right now? Why are you tempted to ignore it? Do you have hope for a great outcome? Are you uncertain you can lead toward that outcome? 

These questions can uncover a leadership opportunity that you are ignoring. And though I understand the temptation to ignore it, let me challenge you. Ignoring it never brings resolution. Looking the other way and leaving the opportunity unaddressed will only make it worse.

Ripple #2: Erodes Vision One of the first things to erode with a negative perspective is vision. You can’t embrace a vision for tomorrow when your outlook on today is in the toilet. It’s hard to get excited about what the future holds when you feel like your present situation is impossible.

Ask yourself: How have I communicated vision today? What level of conviction do others feel from me?

You can’t lead others toward a vision you aren’t actively pursuing. And I’m not sure how you can pursue a vision fervently that you don’t believe you can obtain.

Ripple #3: Declining Effectiveness When you see your current situation as impossible and can’t embrace a compelling vision for the future, your ability to lead other is on the ropes. You simply cannot effectively lead others from here to there without these two critical skills: Hope for what can be done in the present & a Vision for what could be in the future.

Ask yourself: Who do I lead that can give me loving feedback on my ability to communicate Hope for today and a Vision for tomorrow?

[bctt tweet=”Willingness to open yourself up to feedback is one of the most vulnerable things you can do. And yet it holds the potential to take your leadership to a new level. It takes courage. But the gain is worth the risk.” username=”gina_mcclain”]

Here’s the thing.  This isn’t a question of whether or not we are resilient. Everyone has a measure of resiliency. The question is, how strong is your resiliency?

Like a muscle in your body, resiliency can weaken or strengthen over time depending on how we exercise it. So, it you’ve discovered your resiliency is low then you can do something about it.

Next week I’ll share 3 steps you can take to build your resiliency muscle.

For a great resource on building resiliency and other leadership skills, check out our new book, Don’t Quit.

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3 Can-Do Attitude Killers

Posted by on Oct 16, 2017 in Leadership, Ministry, Volunteers, volunteers

Photo by Japheth Mast on Unsplash

Can-Do attitude is a quality difficult to define. My grandma would say, “Tough to stick a fork in it.”

Yet if I had to identify one quality I am most drawn to in a volunteer leader. It’s their attitude. And attitude is shaped by perspective.

Perspective is everything.

Perspective seems to have less to do with what’s real yet it holds great power in our lives. Our perspective shapes our reality. And in the ministry world, I need a leader’s reality to be defined by what CAN happen… not by what can’t.

Why do I think a Can-Do attitude so important in leadership?

I think people want to follow it.

Don’t get me wrong. We have an affection for the negative. Reality shows, pop culture and celebrity news feed an addiction our culture has for drama & conflict. Yet, when it comes to following a leader, a Can-Do attitude is what we want.

Look at it this way. If we are going to follow someone, we want to believe that what we set out to do is achievable. No one enters a game hoping to lose.

Yet leading with a doubt-filled attitude is no different.

So, we can agree that a Can-Do attitude is important to leading people. But if it’s so important, why don’t more people have it? I think it comes down to three Can-Do killers. Three things that can erode the idea that what you set out to do is possible to accomplish.

Past Experience
Personal history might have taught you that what you’re about to attempt is impossible. If every year for 5 years you make the same New Year’s resolution to lose that final 10 lbs. Yet every year you fail to meet that goal the more you believe you can’t. Past failures can taint your ability to believe in future success.

Action Step: Work to remember your wins. If you’re anything like me, you remember more failures than wins. (Truth be told… I’m bad about dismissing my wins and only focusing on my failures. But that’s another Oprah moment.) Here’s my best remedy. Put pen to paper and write down the last 20 wins you’ve had. That’s right. 20. Don’t get to 5 and decide you’re over it. Don’t stop at 10 and think you’re in a good place. Document 20. You see, we can condition ourselves to only focus on the misses and never even see the hits. Don’t be that leader. Believe enough in yourself to invest the time necessary to come up with 20 times you won. I think you’ll find that you hit more often than you miss. But you only operate under the truths you choose to acknowledge. 

Deficit Mindset
The “not enough” mindset can squeeze the potential out of every situation. Whether it’s time, budget, man-power or something else, when you believe there is not enough, you’ll struggle to believe you can accomplish the goal.

Action Step: Creativity comes alive when resources aren’t readily available. Choose to view your situation in a different light. Bring other people around it. And trust that creative minds can fill the gaps. 

Lack of Trust
When you lack trust in the team you work alongside, any Can-Do attitude you attempt to conjure will be half-hearted at best. Life isn’t a solo sport. You’re always working with a team. Whether it’s family, friends, roommates, pets, you are rarely operating in a bubble. In ministry, you are working with a team of fellow volunteers. The ability to believe something can be accomplished is directly linked to how much you believe those around you can help make it happen.

Action Step: Is there someone on your team you don’t trust? Have you had a conversation with them? Don’t underestimate of the power of a personal conversation. It could be the one action that changes the game. Pull them aside, talk about the goal, give them space to share their concerns & find a game plan to work through them.

When I consider terms I want to define my leadership, Can-Do attitude is at the top. But it has to come from an authentic place within myself. And that takes work. It requires that I cultivate the the right actions over and over again. It means I choose to acknowledge wins, lean into creative solutions to fill the gaps and address lack of trust early.

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Keeping Things Focused: my top 4 productivity tools & why I love them

Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 in Creativity, Ministry

Startup Stock Photo

Startup Stock Photo

I have a love-hate relationship with productivity tools.

There was a time in my life that you could accuse me of ‘dating’ to-do list management systems. Things, Toodledo, Wunderlist, and good, old-fashioned pen & paper… I’ve used all of these.

You know what I’ve discovered? There is no magic-bullet. There is no perfect system that eliminates my need to stop, identify what’s most important and create space to work on what’s most important.

[bctt tweet=”Nothing eliminates my need to stop, target the important & create space to work on it.”]

Now, there are certainly tools I use to help me manage the big & little ‘rocks’. But…. at the end of the day… it all boils down to actually using them.

There are seasons I use my tools well.

There are seasons I don’t.

When I don’t use my tools well, I ‘feel’ frantic. Like everything is spinning around me. I just can’t seem to grasp anything. The vortex of the latest & loudest is too great to overcome and I feel trapped and unable to focus on anything else.

When I do use my tools well, I end my day with a sense of satisfaction knowing that my time and energy were well invested. I can’t say that I feel ‘in control’ of what’s happening in my world. I think control is an illusion. But I am satisfied with where my time and focus are applied.

[bctt tweet=”When I prioritize my time I’m satisfied w/ where my time & focus are applied.”]


Here are list of tools I love to use to help me manage my day-to-day, week-to-week expectations. I’ve quit ‘dating’ these tools. I’m committed because they’ve made a huge difference in my ability to produce quality work.

I’m another Evernote fan. I keep everything possible in Evernote. From the kids’ school syllabi to team meeting notes. I love that I can access my Evernote files from my phone or any computer connected to the interwebs.

Evernote is a great bucket for research, documents, meeting notes and other things I need to hang on to for a while. Using the tag feature, notes and documents are easily searchable and categorized.

I used to use a paid subscription of Toodledo. I liked it. Used it for 3 years. But recently shifted to Wunderlist. I prefer the user experience of Wunderlist of Toodledo, yet both are great tools to help me manage and prioritize tasks.

This past year I participated in a GTD workshop. I’d read the book several years ago and loosely applied the principles. But they didn’t stick. The workshop was a huge benefit to me. I’ve incorporated about 60% of the system. And as I gain competency, I’ll incorporate more.

The aspects of the GTD system that I love are:

  • Email Inbox processing
    Action Folder: for emails that require an action for me.
    Read Now Folder: for emails I need to read for information and have a time frame attached.
    Read Later Folder: for emails I want to read but the clock isn’t ticking.
  • Physical Inbox processing – I’ve always had a physical inbox. And it was really just a place where papers piled up that I didn’t know what to do with OR simply didn’t want to deal with it! Now I have time scheduled each week where I clear out that Inbox. I do something with the document. Either I turn it into an Action, add it to a Project, Trash it or it goes into the Someday/Maybe file.
  • Someday/Maybe – This is a notebook in Evernote. It’s my home for all those things I’d love to do… but just don’t have the time, budget or margin to do right now. At least I have a home for it until margin is available.
  • Brain Dump – I think GTD has a different name for this. But I’ve dubbed the process ‘Brain Dump’. It’s intentional time carved out once a week where I just write out all the things that are on my mind. It’s crazy how freeing the exercise can be.
    This is one activity I don’t do consistently enough. I see a big difference in my creativity on the weeks that I’m faithful to Brain Dump. Creativity suffers the weeks I opt out of the Brain Dump.

Pomodoro Timer
I really love this tool. You can read about the technique here. But for someone like me who is EASILY distracted, this tool is pretty invaluable. It helps me to focus in concentrated bursts of time. When I know I need to get a project moved forward, using my Pomodoro Timer helps me to focus, produce, then intentionally take a break.

There are a variety of Pomodoro Timers available. I use the PomodoroPro app on my iPhone or Tomato Timer on my web browser.

From a productivity standpoint, these are the tools that I’ve found help me to manage the day-to-day crazy. But… at the end of the day… if I don’t use the tools, they don’t do me a bit of good. A tool is only helpful when you actually take it out of the toolbox and use it.

As we enter a new year, now is a great time to decide which tools you will use to help you focus on what’s most important in 2016.

What do you use to help you focus on the Big Rocks first?

This post Keeping Things Focused appeared originally on ginamcclain.com

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