Lead From the Middle

“What brings a fresh future into being is citizens who are willing to self-organize. An alternative future needs the investment of citizens – leaders not in top positions – who are willing to pay the economic and emotional price that creating something really new requires.” by Peter Block in Community – The Structure of Belonging

We are under the misinformation that leadership comes out of position. It may or may not. Position does not make or determine leadership. In fact, John Maxwell identifies position as the lowest rung of leadership (note Five Levels of Leadership). 

What we have not realized is that leadership, the personal investment in change, where we step up to become part of the solution, can happen at all levels.

Continue reading Lead From the Middle


We all need encouragement. From the simple getting through a day, to those stepping out and into bigger things, encouragement goes a long way.

Of course, to be encouraged we must receive, and to encourage others we must risk in small ways.

When I am having a bad day, often just a simple phone call or tea time with a friend is all I need. The swirling vortex of my own thoughts and emotions at such times, just needs the voice of someone I know and trust to enter in peace and assurance.

Other times it is the quiet whisper of our Holy Spirit by which I am most encouraged. Allowing and receiving the heart of God over us enters in quiet tranquility; this too is encouragement deep within.

Sometimes it is just changing up the routine, doing something different, trying something new, that brings encouragement and gladness to our souls.

Now, encouragement is not the same as flattery. When people try to stroke me with their words I am not encouraged, but rather discouraged. False words and those who rush to ‘fix’ me only renders additional loneliness.

This shows up every once in awhile when I am sharing something I am not good at. My friends, those who encourage me most, acknowledge my words and recognize the truth in what I am saying.

But there are always a few who rush to deny my words, push them away, refusing to consider what I am saying, pumping me with flattery, these ones leave me lonely and bereft, and I make a mental note of who not to share with next time.

Encouragers validate. They do not deny reality, but they enter into it and say, ‘Yeah, I know. So hard.”

“Gosh that must be frustrating.”

Encouragers are strong in themselves. They are not pinning their hopes on the reality of anyone around them. They can then enter in freely and with gifts of heart and soul.

Encouragers just sit alongside. They don’t have to fix things. They don’t come from a place of panicked response. They just enter in and sit alongside. An encourager has often seen and experienced many hard things, and so the hard things don’t scare them anymore. Which means your and my hard things don’t scare them. They simply sit alongside, giving dignity to the difficulty.

They know you can get through it

Encouragers trust the process of life. And in this trust that exudes from them, we are strengthened and brought to greater levels of trust ourselves. We don’t have to control. We don’t have to maintain. We don’t have to pretend.

Life is what it is. And if nothing else is true, life is a process. Like the ebb and flow of the waves our own lives will have ups and downs. And we, can, enter into the ebb and flow, learn from it, strengthen in it, find ourselves through it, and then we too can become encouragers for others.

Be an encouragment today. Allow those around you their process. Don’t rush to fix it. Just be alongside.