Leading Self Well

by Shelley Johnson

Our host and teacher introduced herself and told us that our two days together would be all about learning how to lead ourselves well so we could lead others better. At the time it seemed a simple enough statement, but as our conversations took us deeper into ourselves, it didn’t take long for us to see not only how profound her statement was, but also how challenging.

How do we, as women, lead ourselves well? What does that look like?

What I’m learning is that before anything else, a woman needs to know herself: · What’s my personality? · What are my deepest desires? · How do I react in certain situations, such as stress or conflict? · What am I most passionate about? · What is it I fear most?

These are not questions to gloss over quickly…I mean, you could. But you wouldn’t benefit much from a cursory glance. Getting alone, having that time of solitude is imperative. It’s only in the “being still” that we start to know God…and ourselves.

God has had me on a self-awareness journey for quite a few years now. He helped me define myself as an introvert first. That seems a simple enough thing except that every time I took a “test,” I always ended up right in the middle, so I spent much of my early adulthood frustrated. When I finally had it explained that where we derive our energy and how we process are two very key indicators of our introversion/extroversion. Me, I get my energy in my alone time…not from people. I do love people and being with them, but afterwards, I’m tired.

I also process in my head, and usually not very quickly, which is opposite of extroverts, who like to process things out loud…and quickly. Gosh, these two revelations of myself helped me not feel guilty about taking time for myself…because that’s where I get my energy. I need that time out. And it helped me understand group dynamics. At the time of this revelation I was one of a few introverts on our staff, so I always felt slow and out of touch in staff conversations. I need extra time to think through things…and that’s okay!

When we have a grasp of who we are and how we’re wired, we need to care for ourselves by tending to our souls, that deep place where we are our truest self. This too takes solitude, time with God, alone enough to be able to hear Him, to be able to tap into His strength and wisdom, to be able to be filled by Him.

As women, we’re typically in over our heads with all our DOING. I know I’m always changing hats – one minute I’m Wife, the next Mom. And as the phone rings, I’m Minister. Till a text dings and I’m Friend. Whew…no wonder we’re tired. We’re busy.

And where does that leave God? We know our priority should be Him, but too often He gets what’s left as we fall into bed each night. And so goes the cycle. We’re tired because we’re so busy, yet because we’re so busy, we don’t make time to sit down with the One who can renew us…..

Angela Thomas teaches that the only way for a woman (anyone!) to be stronger is to be close to God. Our nearness to Him allows His goodness, His strength, His grace to fill us. And when we can do these things on a regular basis, we are leading ourselves well.  And when we lead ourselves well, we can lead others better. In our families. In our workplaces. In our churches. On our teams.

When we are intentional about tending to our souls and hearts, we can lead from our overflow instead of our leftovers. We become spiritual leaders who can lead others better.

Trying to lead myself well,


Shelley Johnson describes herself as a “believer, wife, mother, daughter.” She lives in Edmond, Oklahoma with her husband and three boys and serves on New Covenant UMC’s staff as Director of Adult Discipleship. “I’m blessed to be used by God,” Shelley says, “as He helps me along my own faith journey.”

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