As I was reflecting on the leadership here at Journey this week, I thought about other conferences that I have attended… where there is a clear difference between the leaders and the participants. The leaders are the experts with degrees and publications who theoretically have everything all together and the participants hope to someday attain the same kind of expert leadership status. But that is not how the leadership at Journey works. I don’t know exactly what the qualifications are to be a leader at Journey, but what I have perceived is that it’s like this: 1) you need to have a story of brokenness, 2) you need to understand your brokenness, 3) you need to be on a path of healing, 4) you need to learn how to help others in their healing process.
The leaders here are on their own journeys and they model what it means to be in the process with everyone else, living out their stories, sharing their own pain, and exposing their vulnerability along the way. They model for the participants that our healing journey is never complete. This model has given me the encouragement to know that I don’t have to have everything all together before I can help other people… I can share my brokenness and continue understanding myself in the midst of my leadership. The speakers stand on a stage that is elevated so people can see them, but they are not elevated in their posture or their position. They are among us and with us, themselves, on their own journeys. It’s not like we are people who hope to someday arrive at a destination where we have it all together at which point we could lead others.
Because there is no arriving, there is only continuing on the path that God has for us. And I saw modeled what it means for men and women to lead together, without one having authority over the other based on gender. I have seen strong, women leaders who are older and speaking and leading alongside men… And seeing this model has been an encouragement to me in my own leadership. Women who are in the later years of their lives still serving and leading with authority and conviction with men here too… some men leading and some men supporting the women leaders. Thank you for giving us that example of biblical leadership that honors the gifts of both men and women, which is glorifying to God.
I have been a Christian for over 40 years, mother to 5 amazing children, a Pastor’s wife, Worship Leader, Women’s Ministry Director, and for the last 14 years Executive Director of a Pregnancy Center. I have lead and been a part of over one hundred Bible Studies. I have experienced childhood neglect, emotional, sexual, and spiritual abuse. I have worked diligently to be an authentic vulnerable follower of Jesus. I have struggled however to meet the mark I set for myself believing it was the mark Jesus set for me. A crisis led me to a Pastor and friend who recommended ‘Journey’.
Journey is a recovery program for Christians who struggle. Journey provided a safe and sacred space with trained leaders to guide me to deeper truths about the love of God. Journey helped me to uncover insidious behaviors, ways I learned to manage life as a child, ways that were harmful to me and others and not as God designed. Journey revealed how evil’s intent to destroy me had defaced the image of God in me. Journey members helped me be kind to myself, they invited me to see myself as the beloved of God This work is not for wimps, you must be willing to embrace deep and sometimes agonizing pain while believing that beyond the pain is resurrection freedom and joy. I truly wish everyone reading this would be compelled to be part of a Journey experience. I get so excited imagining how the Journey experience could beautify the Body of Christ, changing our world with compassion and kindness as we are more and more transformed into the likeness of the image of the One who created us.
I came to the Journey Begins training to further my education in order to bring more groups to our home church. While in the context of small group, I discovered some detrimental vows I had made. Once uncovered, I was lead to renounce these vows out loud and through prayer broke the harmful vows I had made. I felt the healing as the cleansing tears came. When I got home from the training, I noticed a huge difference in my relationships and how I treated others, and I was blessed by the newfound kindness and forgiveness I had for myself, which overflowed to others around me, especially my husband and children!
Journey groups have been instrumental in the healing process in my life!! I was a scared, confused, untrusting baby Christian and I had no idea who would stick with me and help me learn how to be an authentic real person, living life to the fullest with all the joy God intended for me to have!!
In my Journey groups I was allowed to be me…and at first I didn’t even know who I really was but thru each participation in a group, as the leaders allowed me to express (or not express) myself, I learned that I did have real feeling, thought, likes and dislikes and God had created me to be uniquely me!! I’ve learned that what the enemy meant for my destruction is being used for Gods’ good and I will forever use what God has given me in my story for His glory!!
God took me to a level I didn’t know was hidden in my story. My leaders and group were amazing in drawing it out with love and compassion, my heart did a 180.
I am living in a restful place of trust, taking care of myself and not performing. Journey has changed my life, I am forever grateful.