Not long ago, I introduced a concept to our staff that has shaken me up a little bit. At first it was just a leadership principle, but lately I’ve found it seeping into other parts of my life; like my parenting, my spousing (is that a word?), my friendships…everything. This might seem like a good thing, and I suppose it is, but it’s made things uncomfortable in my already complicated psyche. And so, I share it with you here so I’m not alone.

I call this concept Radiant Leadership. And it stands at the other end of the spectrum from leadership styles like Compliant Leadership. Allow me to define each of these briefly. Compliant Leadership has, you guessed it, a leader. This leader stands in front of followers and tells them where they’re going and how they’re going to get there; while they lead the way. This is pretty standard practice in most classrooms, offices, families, and even friendships. It’s  worked (sort of) for a very long time. It looks something like this:

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The hardest part of this arrangement is it’s dependency on the followers being compliant. They have to actually respond and do what they’re being told they should do. This model hinges entirely on THEM. That makes for frustrating leadership. Have you ever tried to tell a four-year-old to eat their vegetables? How about a disgruntled employee that they need to have a better attitude? You might use every strategy from every book in the parenting or leadership section of Amazon and still find THEY don’t listen.

So what if we flipped the script? Here’s what I mean: instead of depending on THEM, let’s focus more on YOU. In order to do that, we need to change the model all together; this is where Radiant Leadership comes in. It looks like this:

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In this model, the leader is at the center instead of at the front or on top of the proverbial organizational chart. And they function more like a pebble that’s thrown into a pond. Have you ever noticed the monumental effect a small stone can have on a still pond? The ripples it creates often make it all the way back to the shore. The leader (or parent, or friend, or life group leader) in this model focuses on themselves and how they are doing things. They do—as an example—and that doing affects those around them, who affect those around them, and so on and so on and so on.

The truth is, you and I cannot control anyone else, just ourselves. So why not lean into that instead of continue to bang our heads against the wall trying to move others? Let’s just move ourselves. Let’s be the people we want them to be. Instead of constantly telling others what they should do—show them what you do. Lead by example.

Like I said, this is uncomfortable. But I think there is something to it. After all, Jesus spent 3.5 years leading the disciples, and most of what we read in the gospels is Jesus showing his disciples and then explaining. When he said, “Come, follow me,” he didn’t stop there. He also said, “and I will show you how to fish for people!” (Mark 1:17, NLT). He showed them how to do what he wanted them to do. So this week, as you parent, or spouse (again, probably not a verb at all) or work, let’s be like Jesus and be radiant in our leadership.


Have you ever started something and not finished?  Maybe it was improving at a sport or doing well on a project.  Have you had a vision of something you wanted but sold out short on? Maybe your vision was more difficult to attain than you realized, became too time consuming, or a number of other things. I know I have and I settled for less than best for reasons such as these. If I am being honest I think this is true of a lot of us in our walk with God.

I mess up so much and I can be really hard on myself. I also forget stuff like it’s nobody’s business.  (You can ask my friend Sarah, she is always reminding me of things we have going on).  But I’m the worst when it comes to God.  I forget so easily the things he’s done for me, his promises, and the things he teaches.  I lose my vision of him and as a result I lose sight of who I am in him.  Instead I become discouraged and distracted because somewhere along the way I got side tracked and am not where I want to be.

Like a road trip to Disney, I lose the bigger picture and become focused on the wrong things. Things like traffic, being cramped in a car, the many pits stops, detours we have to take because accidents happen, and so on keep getting in the way. I forget that going through the less-than-fun times is worth all the struggle because at the end I will finally be where I want to go.  What I am learning is this: the journey is just as important as the destination.  It’s in the journey process that we learn, grow, and bond with God and others riding with us.  Therefore, just keep swimming. At times you may only be moving inches but at least you are moving towards the goal, you aren’t alone, and that is huge.

I am currently doing a study on Colossians that reminded me of something  Josh talked about Sunday: the key is consistency.  The more I walk with God the more I find this to be true.  This thing called life is a journey.  We will mess up, maybe lose focus, and face road blocks.  But we cannot be lackadaisical in our walk.  We must continue, remain, abide, persist, and press on in the journey because where we end up is more than worth the challenges we face. I leave you with two verses from Colossians that have been a great encouragement to me and I hope for you too.

You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions.  Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body.  As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.  But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it.  Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. -Colossians 1:21-23

“Let your roots grow down deep into him, and let your lives be built on him.  Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” -Colossians 2:7


Katrina McElvain is the daughter of Trisha, and oldest of her siblings, Grace and JP.  She loves spending time with family and friends, watching movies, dancing, and writing. She teaches dance at night and is a teacher’s aide by day. She also loves Immanuel and listening to the sermons every Sunday morning.




Have you ever tried to give a cat a bath? Personally, I haven’t but hear it’s pretty difficult to pull off. Most cats don’t like water and will contort their bodies in very unnatural ways just to avoid taking the plunge. It’s not unlike when a cat sees a cucumber (look it up on YouTube – it’s weird). Now, imagine how difficult it would be to give four cats a bath.

If you snuck into my house on any given morning when we have to get our four sons someplace by a certain time, that’s what you’d find – cats, water, chaos. What’s extra insane is that at our house, while the boys are avoiding shoes and backpacks and teeth brushing, they’re also fighting with one another… a lot. So awhile back I sat them down and gave them a new definition for what it meant to be a family; more precisely, I shared with them what it meant to be a team. Here’s the jist of it:

Teammates SACRIFICE for each other.

In other words, there are going to be times when you are called to give something up for a teammate. In the family context, you’ll need to sometimes give up the front seat for your brother who hasn’t had the chance to sit there for a long time. So our goal is the best for the unit, not just for ourselves. 5-year-olds hate this part the most, because they love “mine” and are faced with the possibility of making “mine” “ours.” But again, that’s what it means to be a family.

Teammates SERVE each other.

No, you did not take out those Legos, but will you serve your brother by putting them away for him? Some form of that question shows up every day at our house. Because we value serving our family; our teammates. Here’s why that’s important: because I believe we’re never more like Jesus than when we serve someone else. And I want my boys to be like Jesus, so I lean into the ever-present sibling group around them as the practice field for their future. And serving can’t be done begrudgingly, because that’s not the same thing. We want to serve our brother because we love them and this is a great way to express that love.

Teammates SUPPORT each other.

We always have each other’s backs. Always. Throw in any cliche you like here (like blood is thicker than water) and I use it with my boys. You might pick on your brother but nobody else does. You stick up for them and defend them. You are your teammates’ (and family’s) biggest cheerleader in whatever it is they’re doing.

I’m sure by now you caught that all three start with an “S.” So in our house we call them “The 3 S-es of a Team.” It might sound cliche and cheesy, but it’s helped us be a little more consistent and while the cats still don’t want to get in the water, they’re at least working together to avoid it.


After serving as the Student Ministries Pastor for 10 years, Josh Petersen is now the Lead Pastor of Immanuel Church. He’s married to Heidi and together they live with Jake, Logan, Cole and Sawyer at the circus they call home.


What’s your favorite kind of cereal? I’m gonna cheat and say that I have a tie for the number one spot in my cupboard. First is Cookie Crisp. I know, it’s dessert for breakfast, but it’s so good. Number two is Cracklin Oat Bran. It’s like saw dust pressure-packed into little o’s with sugar and cinnamon sprinkled in. Sounds gross but trust me, it’s fantastic. I’ve always been a huge cereal fan. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and it’s a simple recipe—just add milk. I wrote a paper in college on why cereal is the greatest food ever. And it’s because of this simple fact: I could eat cereal for every meal of every day for a month and never have the same flavor twice…but still be eating cereal.

I wonder if God thinks of us (people) like cereal. I bet He does. We’re all so different, aren’t we? We’re racially different. We’re socio-economically different. We’re culturally different. We are all kinds of different. And yet, we’re all still human. There’s more diversity in humanity than any aisle in your grocery store but we all fall under the same category. But here’s what kicks it up a notch: God made it that way. He’s that creative. He’s that impressive. Which means He loves us way more than we could ever possibly love cereal. And when you factor in that we so often reject Him and His love, it makes it all the more breathtaking. Think about it: if your cereal turned on you and decided it didn’t want to be your cereal anymore…into the garbage disposal it would go, right? But that’s not what God did with us; because He loves us more than we could possibly love cereal.

Instead, he sent his son to save us. That’s love. No matter what flavor we are, He loves us enough to allow His son to be brutally murdered on our behalf. I’ve grown up going to church my entire life and need reminding of this mind-boggling truth regularly. And when the news is full of stories about division and hate, I need reminding all the more. We’re different but the same. We’re diverse but loved by the One who made us that way. I’m trying to become a person that looks at the diversity in humanity like I do my cereal and appreciate it for it’s diversity. Listen, Cheerios are no gourmet meal, but what makes them great is the fact that the next time you have cereal, it might be something different. Cereal is great because it’s so vast in it’s manifestations. Why not appreciate God’s creativity in us with the same bend?

Listen to God’s words through Paul: I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone (1 Timothy 2:1-6).

All people. Everyone. Humanity. If every heartbeat on the planet matters so much to God that He’d go to the great lengths He did to reconcile us to Himself, then they’d better matter to us. So today, let’s be a community of people that lives as citizens of the Kingdom—a wonderfully diverse Kingdom—by loving it for being that way. Let’s be people who bridge the gap when there’s division, just like Jesus bridged the gap between us and God. Let’s be different from the world.


After serving as the Student Ministries Pastor for 10 years, Josh Petersen is now the Lead Pastor of Immanuel Church. He’s married to Heidi and together they live with Jake, Logan, Cole and Sawyer at the circus they call home.


I don’t know how it goes in your life, but in my family’s, plans go awry. 

And they go awry often.

This makes me feel crazy to say the least. 

But with five children, two parents and one dog, it seems inevitable that plans change. Sometimes, they change moment by moment, depending on the need and the circumstances that either slowly bubble up or explode, volcano-style. 

Take last weekend, for example. Our whole family, all seven of us, had intended to spend the weekend at my in-law’s family cottage. 

But because a lot of life happened, and I’ll leave it at that because you know what that means, we ended up splitting up and going separate ways. Our youngest daughter went with my mom and step dad. Our small and medium boys went to the lake as scheduled with their grandparents. My husband and I stayed home with our teenagers. 

My initial reaction to this change of plans was frustration, sadness and longing. I’d really wanted to go to the cabin and enjoy the lake with our family. 

But that’s not what was happening. In that moment I stood at an emotional crossroads. 

The disappointment and frustration were building inside of me and threatening to overcome while at the same time the Holy Spirit was whispering, “Maybe you didn’t see this all coming, but God knew. You can either sink into a pity party or you can respond in worship.”

“Worship?!” I snorted as the inner dialogue continued. The Spirit began then bringing to my mind words that He was inviting us to embrace that weekend. 

Words like rest, beauty, celebration, creation, feasting, connecting, laughing, growing and enjoying flooded my mind.


And so as I began processing those words, I also began praying that God would help us enter into a weekend of worship despite the fizzling of our best laid plans. 

We brainstormed with the teens how we would play out rest, beauty, celebration, creation, feasting, connecting, laughing, growing and enjoying that weekend, and one of the ways we chose to connect, grow and enjoy was through taking turns picking songs that meant something to our hearts while we were driving to destinations through out the weekend. 

As we each picked, listened and appreciated, we grew to know each other on a deeper level and understand each other a little bit better. 

Some songs were of love. 

Some were of loss.

Some songs were heartbreakingly sad. 

Some were of joy and overcoming. 

Some, a mixture of it all. 

And some were just plain hilarious, ones that made us laugh. {You just haven’t lived until you’ve rocked out to What Does the Fox Say? with teenagers!}

Each of them revealed a little bit about the song picker, though, helping us to know more about each other. 

We were all a little surprised when we walked into Immanuel Sunday morning and the message was about worship having spent the weekend intent on living out worship. 

When Josh likened our lives to songs on Sunday, I realized then that each of our lives are essentially a song of expression that tell a great deal about each of us — just like the songs each of us picked during our weekend together were small reflections of each of our own hearts. 

As I pondered living life as a response to God — living a life of worship — I asked myself what I wanted the song of my life to say. 

Do I want to the song of my life to be a reflection of my circumstances?

A reflection of my emotions?

A reflection of my heart?

A reflection of my God?


The answer to all of those is yes. Well actually, the answer is “yes and.”

I want the song of my life to accurately reflect my circumstances, my emotions, my heart, and I want it all to be in response to who God is. 

Yes, some of my circumstances are hard pressing, and God is there and bigger. 

Yes, many of my emotions are big and difficult to navigate, and God is strong enough to walk with me through each one. 

Yes, my heart is equal parts joy and mess, and God can take it all and make something good of it. 

I want my life-song to accurately reflect my life, and I want it to sing a song of the God who came so we could have life and have it to the fullest. 

I want my life to sing that when my plans go awry, it’s ok. Because God is over it and in it and permeating through every space. 

May He remain the chorus of praise in the worship of my life. 


Hyacynth Worth is beloved to God, wife to John, mom to two boys and two girls and author of Undercover Mother.