Seek What God Has for You!
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We love sharing stories of what God is doing in the MC Western Region. You will be encouraged as you see the consistent thread of God’s faithfulness woven into Linda Hoover’s story. God is certainly at work equipping us with the skills we need through our life and ministry in order to engage, develop and empower leaders around us.
In answering the question, “How has God prepared you to coach and empower leaders?” Linda’s first words were: “It was a clear road.” She has not only seen this road as God led her personally, but she also clearly sees the path forward to help others experience God’s clear direction.
Linda Hoover’s Story: Journey Into Coaching
Building structure for ministry has been a central part of Linda’s journey during her nearly 40 years of ministry on staff at Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village: serving as a Children’s Pastor for 21 years, in Care Ministry for 8 years (while also overseeing the children’s choir), laying the groundwork for the Special Needs Ministry, and finally transitioning to Small Group Ministry! Linda developed, resourced, trained, encouraged, and supported small group leaders until she retired at the end of 2019. Mentoring small group leaders was the job for which God had been preparing her – and she sees this so clearly now.
Linda’s desire in building structures for ministry was always to elevate the value of the ministry. She saw what God was doing and rallied support and interest for seeing ministries produce good fruit – then raising it up further to bring in new leaders who were prepared, equipped and trained to lead well.
Linda is gifted in building paths forward for people to grow and in developing structures for ministries to grow.
As Linda was transitioning into retirement, there was an opportunity to explore coaching women in ministry. Linda recognized the ways that God had shaped her for ministry and therefore, this newness felt “appealing and, quite frankly, comfortable.” That was when Dave DeVries, WR Executive Director, asked, “How would you feel about coaching?”
Linda reflects, “What is coaching? A continuation of mentoring? It is, but it isn’t. Mentoring is putting in. Coaching is pulling out, letting them develop. In one sense the transition into coaching has been easy; secondarily, it’s not so easy. I had to learn to listen more and listen harder, pulling information out of those I work with. The transition was interesting to me and Holy Spirit led. God was in it all the way. I felt so prepared for taking on a new role that was similar (but different) and would afford me the freedom to balance my time.”
What do you hope to accomplish as you coach leaders?
“Beyond the greatest joy of helping someone step across the line of faith… is helping someone find their identity in ministry. Where can they serve, how are they gifted and what are they passionate about? This is coaching.
If I can help that person grow in their awareness of who they are so they can lead more clearly, that’s what I would hope to accomplish. To inspire leaders – growing leaders to be better leaders!”
What God has taught Linda personally as she’s developed coaching skills:
Linda has often struggled with confidence and never felt “good enough” to do what she had to do – however, she’s still done it. As she’s grown in her ability to have a confident conversation with someone she’s coaching, she’s improved her ability to listen. Linda has never been the boldest in the room, but building her confidence to speak with the authority of experience and training helped her to coach well. While Linda doesn’t see herself as a visionary, she is able to see the big picture and, most importantly, the steps to help whoever she’s coaching to go where God wants them to be. “This supporting role is teaching me to trust God through listening better, and not just hearing, but coaching people through their next action steps.”
Now that you’ve “retired” — what are your hopes and dreams for the future?
“We’re in 2020. One can hardly think too far ahead.” Linda hopes to further develop the skills to coach women effectively and to see the fruit of that work. Personally, she hopes to continue learning and not let her brain go stale. Recently, she has been investigating and learning about racial reconciliation. She confesses – “On a personal level, this will take a greater amount of commitment and understanding.”
What advice or encouragement would you offer women who long to be spiritual leaders?
Women have often not been allowed to have a voice in ministry. Linda’s role in coaching women is to help them to develop and to understand first who God has made them to be: “She has a voice, and she needs to use it.”
Linda expresses the importance of deepening our relationship with the Lord and trusting that He has uniquely gifted us and expects us to use those gifts once we truly understand what they are. Linda challenges women to seek out and understand God’s gifts. She encourages women to ask these questions:
- What are my skills?
- What’s my training?
- How can I further my education?
- What’s my passion?
- What do I want to do and how do I want to do it?
“Seek what God has for you and try it out! What gives you joy? If it’s not there, it’s not where God wants you.” – Linda Hoover
We are more effective leaders when we are passionate about what God is doing and it brings us joy.
What do you wish the 30-year-old Linda Hoover would have known? What would you say to her?
“What I wish I would have done sooner, and what I would wish you would do, starting today or yesterday… is to build monuments to God’s faithfulness…so that you can look back at your roadway of life and see those little rocks stacking up along your road.” Linda encourages others to write down a timeline, asking “Where has God been faithful to me?” Look at what God is doing. “Skills learned and developed from past events prepare us for the future. Those are markers of God’s faithfulness.”
Whether it’s a crisis, a spiritual development class, a remark from a close friend, mentoring someone, time spent in prayer… these are all monuments to build and not forget.
One monument of Linda’s that was particularly special and pivotal was when an older woman in the church told Linda, “I am going to die, and the church will be stuck without a Sunday School teacher.” This stood out to Linda because she felt it wasn’t the church’s role to find a leader to replace this woman, it was actually the leader’s job to train up someone younger to take her place as a leader. This ignited Linda’s desire to always replace herself in ministry and to always be bringing somebody else up.
“We need to prepare the next generation of leaders. Don’t be so selfish as to own it.”
“It is not the church’s responsibility – it’s mine.”
Linda challenges us to identify ministry skills in others – to have “ministry eyes.” She was constantly asking herself, “Who is it that we can train up and move into this role?”
“Be intentional about what you do for the kingdom.” – Linda Hoover
Throughout Linda’s many years in ministry, she was able to further develop her administrative skills and build structure to help ministries thrive. Linda sees the church as a whole organism where all the parts need to be brought up so that the Body can function well. She doesn’t just focus on her little piece.
Linda is incredibly grateful for all her years in ministry. God always led her naturally from one ministry to another, never having her leave a ministry before it was time; she simply finished with one and the door for the next one opened!
Linda is humbled as she reflects on the ways that God faithfully prepared her in one role to then lead her to the next role. She now sees clearly – “What’s a small group leader but a Sunday School Director (just with bigger people)?”
“Go where you’re sent, stay where you’re put, unpack. And give what you’ve got until you’re done.” – Jill Briscoe
The MC Western Region provides personal coaching for women in ministry.
Contact us at [email protected] for more information and we’ll get you connected to a coach that is right for you!
Also – we’d love to hear how God is working in your church families – and through your church families – during these unique and challenging days. Send us an email at [email protected]
This article was written by Madeline DeVries. We are grateful for the time Madeline took to interview Linda and to capture her story.