Leading Your Team for the Long Haul

Notes from Orange Conference 2017 #OC17


**These are the notes from my breakout session at the Orange Conference 2017. Power Point or PDF’s Found HERE**

When I say team, I mean a cohesive group of people working together to achieve a mutual goal.

Team doesn’t mean you don’t have personal goals; you just work towards a large common goal.
To get a good foundation for leading people over time we need to start with a foundation. Going back to my academic days, I had to start out with some leadership theory.

Why leadership theory? Sometimes we need a mental hook to organize our thoughts. We need a large scale framework to help us anchor our situation.


Transformational Leader

Transformational Leadership – In essence, is a process of building commitment to organizational objectives and then empowering followers to accomplish those objectives (Yukl, 1998). The result, at least in theory, is enhanced follower performance (Burns, 1998; Yukl, 1998).

The team feels trust, admiration, loyalty, and respect toward the leader, and they are motivated to do more than they originally expected to do.

Transformational Leaders – inspire others with vision; create excitement through their enthusiasm

4 Behaviors that Establish Transformational Leadership


  1. Idealized influence – Or charismatic influence – You must be an influencer
    1. Charismatic element of transformational leadership – leader becomes role models who are admired, respected, and emulated by followers
    2. Team trust these leaders
    3. Integrity in form of ethical moral conduct
    4. Development of a shared vision is an integral component
    5. Share and take risk

So 1st Behavior : INFLUENCER

SLIDE 6 ::

  1. Inspirational motivation
    1. Transformational leaders inspire and motivate others by “providing meaning and challenge to their followers work (it’s not just putting together crafts – it is kids having a craft to retell the bible story which is all about repetition)
    2. Build relationships with followers through interactive communication, which forms a cultural bond between the 2 participants.

So 2nd Behavior: Motivator


  1. Intellectual stimulation
    1. Leaders behavior that encourages followers creativity and stimulates innovative thinking
    2. Tolerant of peoples mistakes
    3. Involves others in problem solving and are open to new ideas
    4. No transactional relationship – you do this because I asked you.

So 3rd Behavior: Intellectual Stimulator


  1. Individualized consideration
    Role leader plays in developing followers potential and paying attention to their individual needs for achievement and growth

    1. Strives to create new learning opportunities for followers and tend to act as a coach or mentor
    2. STORY: My dad was coach – Bowling – Showed me how to hold the ball, take three steps, etc. Still to this day think through those steps. He coached me on doing it the right way – Same with our team – Coach them on what to say to parents, how to dress, How do they need to grow as a leader? Pay close attention to coaching them on their individual needs.

So 4th Behavior: Coach (for the individual)

SLIDE 9 :: So Be . . .



Intellectual stimulators


SLIDE 10::

Slide:   1 – Know your team

Personalities/Temperaments – Know each member on your team. My favorite way to do this is with a Personality Test. There are many out there:

  • Disc, Pep, Strengths, Real Colors – Because a student of your team
  • Real colors – My favorite

SLIDE 11::

GOLD: How many of you have people on your team that love to-do list? Most likely they are your gold’s.

  • Plans ahead; Likes checking off items on the “to do” list
  • Pushes to have things decided and settled
  • Sets deadlines and expect them to be met
  • Gives and likes to receive precise directions and instructions
  • Punctual
  • Organized
  • Values Rules

SLIDE 12::

GREEN: How many of you have people on your team that love to push you to deeper thinking? They may be kind of loaner and don’t show much emotion.

  • Tries to convince others by logic and objective arguments; uses words like principle, logical, standards, analysis
  • Appear most comfortable with topics not related to feelings or relationships
  • Has a small number of deep friendships
  • Pauses before answering or giving information
  • Values independence and time alone
  • Needs information and questions answered
  • Logical
  • Research Oriented

SLIDE 13::

BLUE: How many of you have people on your team that avoid conflict?

  • Talks about possibilities more than what exists
  • Likes to do things in new ways; dislikes routine
  • Is upset by conflict or disharmony
  • Shows concern for the feelings of others
  • Chooses a tactful comment over a directly truthful one
  • Values family – who is your family?

SLIDE 14::

ORANGE: How many of you have members of your staff that are the life of the party?

  • Uses words like flexible, adapt, evolving, and spontaneous
  • Does work in a way that makes the process enjoyable
  • Shows physical energy in body language, facial expressions, and voice
  • Acts or speaks quickly, sometimes without thinking
  • Works easily with several other things going on
  • Values fun, independence, challenges,
  • Rules are guidelines – can be broken

Your job – to communicate in their color. Not your preferred color

Speak in the language of the listener

Example – The Colors and their Roles they play in a meeting

  • Gold – on task needs agenda
  • Greens – may come just right on time to miss the chitchat, will either be very quiet thinking or will ask probing questions
  • Blue – wants to know how everyone is doing/feeling
  • Orange – keeps things fun, pushes the boundaries

**If you are interested in having a fun team training around Real Colors, contact me at ab@amberbaker.me **

SLIDE 15::

Define Roles – “recent studies show that individuals who are more aware of team roles and behavior required for each role perform better than individuals that do not.”

Getting the right people and the right chemistry is more important than getting the right idea.

SLIDE 16::

2 – Boundaries

Professionals and business leaders who carry mobile devices, like smart phones, tend to work more than 70 hours a week.

Phones – Put them away when doing family time or in a meeting

Email – turn the notification off on your phones. Spend a set time in the morning and afternoon for email. Don’t let it control you.

Social Media – what are you posting? Why? How often?

Day’s off – TAKE ONE! Do something fun, rest, DON’T WORK!

Time with the Lord – Every day

Family Time

Schedule – Block times

SLIDE 18::

3 – Spend 80% of your time with people who produce 80% of the work

It is said that 20% of your people do 80% of the work

If this adage is true than you need to spend 80% of your time with the 20%

To get maximum effect over the long haul you want to pour into your coordinators, you team leads, your staff. Not the once a month nursery worker.

SLIDE 19::

Jason – This is one of our awesome team members who are spending most of our time with and he is blossoming!

SLIDE 20::

4 – Lead Change Well

  • Change – Either evokes excitement or fear
  • People don’t like to be pushed to change – lead from the front
  • Takes time
  • Must change thinking for lasting change – go right back to the “old ways of dong things”
  • Three types of change agents

SLIDE 21:: 1 – you can try and please everyone

STORY – Cruise Ship director – No change happened.

SLIDE 22:: 2 – you can run over everyone and make demands

SLIDE 23:: 3 – guide through a process getting people there over time

You put those 4 behaviors into action as you lead 1) Influence 2) Motivate 3) Stimulate their brains 4) Coach

SLIDE 24: arc

            Growth Mode vs Maintenance Mode

SLIDE 25::

5 – Have Fun – Be in community

Positivity is important

  • Celebrate success
  • Have a positive attitude

Wait !?! What !?! TWINS!

The day we doubled

Happy Birthday Josiah and Daniel!  Let me tell you how the story began. . .

The day I found out I was pregnant:

We were in the middle of renovating our house. We had no flooring or furniture downstairs. I hadn’t been feeling well and assumed it was from all the fumes of construction. One evening we had prepared our dinner and created a little picnic on the concrete floor in the living room. I don’t remember what prompted me to take a pregnancy test, but I did. Sitting on the floor with Josh, Ashley, and Sam (who was a little over 1) I announced we would be adding one more to our family. I think Josh and I were in shock. No, I know Josh and I were in shock! This was not planned. To be honest, I wasn’t super excited about being pregnant. This didn’t “fit” in our “plan”. I spent the next couple months trying to come to terms that life would change. We went in to our 9 week ultrasound and saw a big baby and a heart beating strong. Life was there. My thoughts, “Ok Lord, I trust you.”

The day that made us freak out:

The life growing inside of me showed on my body quickly. People noticed right away. If I had wanted to hide this pregnancy, there was no way I could have. Josh and I showed up to the 20 week ultrasound excited to see how this baby would break the tie: would it be a girl or boy? As I looked around at all the other ladies in the waiting room they didn’t even look pregnant! Here I was looking huge. The mantra I kept saying was that it was just my third pregnancy.

As we settled into our ultrasound room, we were given a  student technician, she was focused on her job and not very chatty. She kept moving that wand around my large belly taking pictures of the important parts; cervice, placenta, etc. Josh, my fun loving husband, kept asking me what I had eaten that morning since I had lumps in my stomach. We laughed, told horror stories of parents finding out they were having twins, and just waited to find out if we were having a girl or boy.

The official technician poked her head in our room and asked the student if she noticed anything abnormal about the ultrasound? Instantly, Josh looked at me with BIG eyes! He asks, “are there two babies in there?” The student said she was trying to stay focused on the things she was supposed to look at and didn’t want to get distracted by all the feet and hands. WAIT?!? ALL THE FEET AND HANDS? The technician says, “YOU’RE HAVING TWINS!!!”

I’m not sure I heard much more after that. I do remember being cold in a extremely warm room. Tears kept running down my face. The official technician took over and told me she knew I didn’t know because they had only scheduled me for a 45 minute appointment. Twin ultrasounds are normally 90 minutes. I was in shock! Literal shock! What about the 9 week ultrasound? Turns out, one of the babies thought it would be fun to hide.

Lord, how are we going to do this? How are we going to afford this? Wait, what? Twins? Are you sure? Over the next couple days I would have waves of anxiety as I thought about what the future would hold for the Baker family.

As my physical body transformed to so did my walk with Jesus. The Lord kept telling me, “I’ve got this. Trust me. I am sending you into new places. I am doing something new.” Those little boys growing inside of me have truly changed our life. God was so gracious to me during my pregnancy, physically and spiritually. I finally surrendered and many times a day would say, “Lord, I trust you.”

That day in January, rocked our world. Little did I know what an amazing blessing I was carrying. Two little identical twin boys that would complete our family, cause us to depend more on the Lord than ever before, and ultimately changed the trajectory of our family.

Little did I know on that day I would only spend 13 more weeks caring them in my womb. But that is for another post. . .



No more VBS T-shirt Line!

Our Way of Being Intentional

Have you ever had a lightbulb moment? One of those moments where you thought, “This is awesome!”

8 months ago I was sitting in a VBS planning meeting. Our goal for this meeting was to brainstorm ways to make VBS more intentional.

We started talking about the Monday experience: What families feel and see when they walk onto our campus for the fist day of VBS. Was there anything about that day we could change? What was the worst part of Monday morning VBS?


Oh, that dreaded T-shirt line. I have done VBS for over 15 years and I still can’t seem to find a system that doesn’t create mile long lines and irritated parents.

As we began to think outside the “normal” and “usual” we started playing around with the questions, “How do we shorten the t-shirt line on Monday? How can we be intentional? What can we do to make sure the kids feel loved? This year’s theme was a boot camp theme, called Basic Training. (We adapted a Sunday morning curriculum from High Voltage and turned it into our VBS) We began brainstorming on fun terms to fit our theme. What military components fit our theme?

Then it struck us – LIGHTBULB MOMENT – Why don’t we deliver all of the VBS t-shirts the Sunday before VBS starts? If we can deliver turkey meals to families in need at Thanksgiving, why can’t we deliver VBS t-shirts? We decided to call them MREs – Merchandise Ready To Experience.

Sound crazy? Yep! And perfect for us!

So the Sunday before VBS, our church family delivered 346 packages across Southern California! (Some people drove over 30 miles to deliver their package! That is far in Southern California traffic.) Our pastor’s sermon was on being intentional and he gave our family a practical way to live that out: deliver a MRE! Our congregation picked up their deliveries as part of the service, during the offering.

Here is what was delivered to each family registered for VBS:

MRE Delivery

Top Secret package – This was addressed to the parents/guardians of the kids attending. It contained a VBS music CD, a campus map and instructions for the first day of VBS, a flyer for our upcoming Fall Wednesday kids program, and a flyer for our upcoming It’s Just A Phase parenting conference.

One MRE for each child in the family registered for VBS – This envelope was stamped MRE – Merchandise Ready to Experience. It also had each child’s name on the package. Inside of the package was the t-shirt in the size they requested during pre-registration and a note from me instructing them to wear their uniform when they report to Basic Training VBS.

Each volunteer delivering a package also picked up a FAQ sheet that gave them instructions on what to do and say when they delivered the packages.

It was a hit! It took about 40 hours to organize and make sure that all 560 kids had the correct color of t-shirt and were grouped with the right families. But it was well worth the hours.

The T-shirt line on Monday morning was nonexistent. The excitement level of the kids ready for Basic Training was off the charts! The social media buzz was awesome. Our church family LOVED delivering the packages. Kids were so excited to receive a MRE. Here is a testimony of a little boy who received his package:

I love being intentional in ministry. This one was a game changer for us. I can’t wait to deliver t-shirts next year!!

If you have any questions or want more specifics, let me know!

Here is what our week looked like:


Growing Pains

Photo by Volkan Olmez on unsplash.com

When I was a kid, often times in the middle of the night I would awake to deep pain in my legs. This pain would often come right before a growth spurt. They were growing pains. Did you ever get growing pains?  Many nights my parents would take turns coming in and rubbing my legs. The rubbing would help alleviate the pain. They gave up their nights to make sure that I wasn’t in pain.

This week I experienced a new type of growing pain. An adult one. One that has been God driven, orchestrated, and scripted. The problem is that I was caught off guard. Just like those nights of pain as a kid, hurting but not able to fix it without help.

The Lord has given me a great opportunity next week to speak at a national conference. I’m so excited, honored, and nervous! I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity the Lord has given me. But it has caused me pain. Two types of pain. One is just your simple growing pains. Learning to write, re-write, and re-write again my breakout session. Learning to add enough stories to keep it fun and lively. Leaning to improve my skill set. I kind of expected this type of growing pain.

The other pain, I wasn’t expecting. You see, I started to listen to lie of the enemy. Have you ever heard that voice? The one that accuses you or tells you aren’t good enough? It started out quiet, like little whispers of doubt. But by last night it was like a blaring fog horn in my head. And here’s the real problem, I began to believe it!

Listening to the lies of the enemy put me in a place where my emotions where unbalanced, where I couldn’t see my gifts, where I only heard negative comments.

Today I recognized I needed someone to help me with my pain. I need someone to pray with me, remind me of God’s truth, and to give me the tools to silence the enemy. Just like my parents did in the middle of the night, today people helped with my pain. Uplifting words from co-workers, a pastoral staff that reminded me of the gifts that God has given me and encouraged me to lean into them, a friend who walked me through a unique prayer time, all of these “rubs” helped me to see the lies the enemy was telling me and more importantly the lies I was believing.

I’m not sure where you are in life. I don’t know if you are experiencing pain but I want to encourage you, you are not alone. Reach out to people around you. Don’t sit in your pain. Don’t listen to lies of the enemy. Remember that God is there to “rub” your pains, comfort your heart, and provide true relief from pain. I’m praying for you today!

Struggles of a Pastor-Mom!

Baker_CalledSo, it is the day after Easter and I feel like a mom failure.

Holidays and life in ministry can be difficult. Holidays and being a woman in ministry can really be difficult. This year is no different.

Things I wanted to do before Easter:

:Buy my kids cute outfits in fun colors

:Purchase much needed new shirts for my husband 

:Find a cute spring type outfit for me to wear to church

:Create beautiful easter baskets that show my kids (and the online world) that I love my kids and shower them with gifts

:Have a great family time of decorating eggs

:Cut and prep all the food for Easter lunch

:Take a memorable family picture

:Have a clean house and beautifully set table for family and friends

Holy Week is a crazy busy week in the life of the church. This year I had Wednesday night practice. Thursday was full of prepping, planning,and preparing our classrooms and teachers for the families that would attend. Friday was our Tenebrae service. Saturday was more prep and an important family birthday.

Easter Sunday arrived and the alarm went off at 4:30 am. I arrived at church for sunrise service with 5 dozen donuts in my hand and a Venti Latte.

As a kids Pastor the day was great. Meeting new families, watching little ones worship, connecting with parents, thanking volunteers. It was a beautiful, long day. (Note to self – Don’t wear heals when you stand and walk from 5:30am -1pm) The day was great! I wish every Sunday was this electric with energy and fun.

As a mom it felt like a disaster. Remember my dream list before Easter, the things I wanted to do before Easter rolled around?

:Buy my kids cute outfits in fun colors – I did buy the kids one piece of new clothing each. The problem is that I never saw them all together in them. The twins ran to class before I could see them and by the time I got home, they had already changed.

:Purchase much needed new shirts for my husband – Never happened.

:Find a cute spring type outfit for me to wear to church – Ha Ha! Nope. I wore the same outfit I wore to Good Friday service with a different tank top . . .one that was 5 years old.

:Create beautiful easter baskets that show my kids (and the online world)  that I love my kids and shower them with gifts – I never made it to the store to get baskets. I did manage to purchase a pez for each kid, but while writing this I realized they are still sitting in a bag somewhere in the house. Oops!

:Have a great family time of decorating eggs – Decorate eggs? What is that? At 8:00 pm when the boys where heading to bed one of them looked up at me and said  – hey Mom, we never did eggs. Ugh!

:Cut and prep all the food for Easter lunch – I walked into the house with my company in the kitchen cutting the veggies and making guacamole.

:Take a memorable family picture – We never were all together in our outfits. In fact, the boys were in the pool three different times during the day. I think they each wore at totally of 4 outfits. (Let’s see 4 x 3 = 12 different outfits, plus 9 swim trunks, and 6 towels – – Do you see why I hate doing laundry?)

:Have a clean house and beautifully set table for family and friends – I walked into the bathroom after our company left and there was no hand towel to dry hands. The floor had food all over it, good thing people wore shoes! If our company had walked down the back hallway they would have seen two piles of laundry that cover the entire walkway.

So, as I laid on the couch as the evening was coming to a close I had a choice. Be frustrated by all the things I couldn’t do or didn’t do, or I could choose to be thankful for the ministry call that is on my life. My kids understand that Easter is about Jesus and not eggs, they don’t expect new outfits or baskets. We serve as a family and that ultimately is much more important than a fancy set table. The people that enter my home know that I am normal with messy floors and piles of laundry. They also know that we love them and are thankful we can break bread together.

When God calls you, you just do it. Sometimes it means you have to give something up. This Easter it was my to-do list.

So, as I end the day after Easter, I am honored to be a kids pastor. I am honored to be a mom. I am going to spend the next 30 years figuring out how those two jobs work together. I am thankful for Jesus who whispers to me as I drift off to sleep, “You are NOT a failure, you are called.”

Creating a Family Sabbath


We are a busy family. Between soccer practice, choir practice, drum lessons, school, work, household chores, board meetings, and teaching classes, our lives are in a constant state of busy. There are weeks the calendar is so packed with important “things” that we rarely spend uninterrupted intentional time together as a family.

After a season of busyness, earlier this year, I was desperate for some space to just “be”. I was exhausted and struggling to find healthy rhythms for our family life. I was at a meeting when I heard Jen Galley speak of her family’s way of taking a Sabbath. Immediately, I knew the Holy Spirit was prompting me . . . ‘this is what you need as a family, Amber. This will help you create the healthy rhythms you desired. It will also provide you with much needed rest.’

From that prompting we created the Baker Family Sabbath. Since we were in the Lenten season at the time, we decided to give up our normal Sunday evening routines for Family Sabbath. For 6 Sundays we set aside our evenings for rest. Each week was slightly different but the basic structure was the same. At 5 pm we turned off all electronics, phones, TV, iPad, game systems. . .everything. . .really everything. We lit candles around our house. We ate dinner together. The rest of the night we read, played games, colored, did a family devotion. Each week was slightly different. As the sun began to set the light switches never turned on. We kept the candles glowing and finished our evening by candlelight. The kids had never experienced this. Even after the kids went to bed Josh and I sat and relaxed, watching the shadows from the candles dance on the wall.


I was amazed the first week how much fun we had as a family! We laughed while playing a silly game of made up charades. Have you ever seen a 7 year old try and act out a lamp? We laughed so hard we cried. It was the type of laughter that imprints a memory in your brain that will last forever. Even our teenager fessed up to the fact that the night turned out better than she expected. As the kids went to bed I remember sitting in the candle lit room and sensing that my actual nerve endings were sighing in relief and relaxation.

Our Sabbath gave us space to rest, to share life, and be with one another. It got our teenager to interact with the family (Which isn’t always easy!). These nights provided space for conversations about school, life, and God. It helped us disconnect from the crazy world around us and gave us permission to take a deep breath. These nights gave us permission to slow down.

I love that God knows just what we need. No wonder his Word says to take a Sabbath!

Anytime life seems out of control, unmanageable, or disconnected, I instantly know what we need. We need a Sabbath!

Do you rest? How can you create a Sabbath for you and your family?

Brushing Up On New Ideas


I recently went to the dentist and was informed that I have been brushing my teeth incorrectly all my life. What?!? Did you know there is a correct and incorrect way of brushing your teeth? I had no idea!

The dentist spent time showing me the new way to brush my teeth so I don’t damage more of my gums. No more side-to-side action. Nope! Now I start from top of the tooth and sweep down. Wow! What an unnatural feeling!

Every morning I stand at the bathroom sink and I have to think about how to brush properly. It takes much more effort and brainpower! If I am in a hurry or in daydream land, I automatically revert back to my old way of brushing. You’d think it would be easy to change.

The other morning, when I caught myself brushing incorrectly, I got upset at myself. Upset for not automatically brushing correctly. Then I had one of those “duh” moments . . .when we do things over and over we create patterns and habits, good or bad, that can be hard to break. I knew that, but at that moment it was so profound because it connected to a bigger lesson for me.

The Lord used a toothbrush to remind me of some specific areas he is asking me to change. Oh man! These things are going to take concentration and effort to accomplish because I will have to work hard to change the habits I have built over the years. Here are some of the things I am working on (besides brushing my teeth): Getting up at 5 am to go to the gym. Being diligent to write and read outside of work. Consistently being bold in the gifts that God has given me.

These things take work. They don’t come naturally . . . yet. They will, but it will take doing it over and over and over and over for it to become a new way of life.

Do you need to change the way you are brushing your teeth? (Ok maybe not literally.) What are the new patterns and habits you want to create?

Let’s learn to brush our teeth together!

The 3 Stages of Transition

Change happens all the time. People move, change jobs, have babies, we all have experienced change. But have you ever had a season of your life where you felt you were in transition? You knew that something deep inside of you was changing?

In Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, William Bridges discusses strategies for coping with those times in your life when it all seems uncertain due to a change.  Change can happen without a transition but Transition takes place when “you are moving from one chapter of your story to the next” (98)

Bridges says that there are three stages to all transitions 1) an ending 2) a neutral zone 3) a new beginning

First Stage: An Ending In an ending there is a death – a death to an ideal, a dream, a way of thinking, sometimes even a job.

Second Stage: A Neutral Zone In the neutral zone there is a waiting period. As difficult as this period is, it is an essential part of the transition process. Have you ever been in this spot where it is lonely? Maybe you have a dream that is springing up inside of you? You feel like its a waiting game. Maybe even a desert or wilderness experience? These times are the most critical of this transition stage. It is in this germinating space that God begins to shape in you the next chapter of your story. Don’t freak out in this stage. Embrace the pain, loneliness and confusion. Embrace the tension of the ending and the pending beginning.

Third Stage: The New Beginning  Here in this beautiful place you find hope, peace, a new job, or a renewed vision in your life. This new beginning would not be possible if you hadn’t spent time figuring life out in the neutral zone.

The ending you experience actually becomes the fertilizer that the neutral zone needs for the new growth that will take place in the new beginning.

It hit me the other day that I have been in this neutral zone for about a year. It has been a season where deep dreams and desires began to bubble up into my mind and heart. It has been this season of self-discovery mixed with pain, doubt, and fear. It has been a season where God has infused vision and a renewed sense of my calling into my everyday life.

So here is to my new beginning. This blog. This is what God has been stiring in me for a year. I felt the shift and have stepped out in my new beginning. Why am I writing? Ultimately, to be a good steward to what God has said for me to do. My hope is to share ideas, leadership insights, parenting tips, and children’s ministry resources to whoever wants to follow along.

Here is to my new beginning!

I would love to hear from you. Are you in a transition now? What stage are you in?