via @MandyKavanaugh Instagram
via @MandyKavanaugh Instagram

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…!”

No, I am not thinking about Christmas in May. I am thinking about our annual family vacation! The Kavanaughs get one shot per year to have a full seven days of uninterrupted family time spent relaxing in the gulf…and I have learned the hard way how to protect that time.

Up until a few years ago, my vacation included checking in at the office, reading emails, being available through text messages and remaining connected through social media platforms. The result was a mind that would not turn off work and a family that was highly frustrated. The turning point was when a podcast by Michael Hyatt was delivered to my inbox just a few weeks before that year’s vacation. It helped me learn how to prepare for my vacation. I highly recommend that you take some time to listen. In the meantime, here is what I will spend the next few weeks doing to prepare for my absence from the office:

  1. I will clear my inboxes. The backbone of my productivity consists of using the Nozbe app, my email and a container on my office credenza as inboxes. Every time I have an idea or a task to do, it is sent to one of those three places for safe-keeping until I can do or delegate the task. Items that can be taken care of before I leave will be done and the rest will be delegated or organized into long term projects. The goal is to leave with a mind that is free of a to-do list.
  2. I will delegate authority. I have three people who lead teams in the areas I oversee. Before leaving, I will make it clear to everyone in our organization the individuals who have delegated authority to handle issues that may arise while I am gone. The goal is to leave decision making authority for the area(s) you oversee in the capable hands of leaders you trust so your vacation isn’t interrupted by “emergencies” other people can handle.
  3. I will set communication boundaries for my vacation time. My email accounts will be on auto-reply to notify people that I am out of the office. My iPhone will be set to do-not-disturb, allowing only phone calls from my favorites list…the rest of the calls will go to voicemail (set up with a specific vacation message). All of my social media and text notifications will be turned off. The goal is for me to be in charge of deciding what gets my time and attention while I’m with my family.
  4. I will communicate communication boundaries for my vacation time. Setting the communication boundaries is not enough. I will tell people what those boundaries are. A few days before leaving for vacation, I will reach out to our elders, staff, leaders and those who contact me often through text/email to let them know I will be out of reach and will not return calls, email or texts until I am officially back in the office. The first year I did this, I felt like a jerk! What I have learned is that people appreciate knowing that I am protecting this time and that I’m not setting them up to feel horrible for unknowingly disrupting my vacation.

These four steps have worked very well for me the past couple of years but it takes some intentionality on my part during the weeks before my family sets off. It’s worth the work as my vacations have allowed me to truly rest and recharge for the next season of ministry God will send my way.

via @MandyKavanaugh Instagram



Until recent years, the vast majority of resources given to developing leaders within the local church have been given primarily for men in ministry. This isn’t an opinion piece where I argue for a woman’s place in leadership…you can google that subject and read enough arguments to last ten lifetimes. This is an article to Pastors and Elders who are working hard to truly embody being complimentarian by pursuing and equipping women to lead. To those pastors I would say that if you invested in ministry coaching for the women in leadership at your church, the return would be ten-fold.

Here are four reasons why you should consider ministry coaching for these women:

  1. A ministry coach can help a woman in church leadership discover her life purpose. Many believers, in general, do not know their life purpose and as a result, they walk through life chasing things that God never intended them to chase. A wise person will spend their time (and dare I say blood, sweat and tears) seeking God’s purpose for them. Once God reveals his overall purpose to any leader, they no longer have to guess what things get their “yes” and what things get their “no”. They will be free from distraction and able to jump in your church with 100% commitment. My own journey in seeking God’s purpose for my life was finally contained in one statement: “My life exists to exalt the person and work of Jesus Christ with integrity and excellence; to care for the local church, as the Bride of Christ, through leadership and discipleship; to tell the story of Jesus through the arts and depend on God to accomplish dreams that are bigger than me.” I never second guess that my purpose is to serve the local church and I am free from all other obligations.
  2. A ministry coach can help a woman in church leadership be successful in priority management. The first calling of a woman is that of being a wife and mom but God also calls some women into ministry. I’ve seen women shrink back from leadership positions in the church because they thought they had to choose one calling over the other. I am living proof that it is possible to do both well. The best thing a lead pastor or elder board can do for their female leaders is to provide a ministry coach to help them keep their priorities in order.
  3. A ministry coach will help a woman in church leadership grow in her personal leadership development. Personal leadership development for women is really no different than it is for men however it does have it’s own nuances. For example, how should a woman lead men who serve within her teams?  How can a woman resolve conflict without allowing her emotions to take control? A female ministry coach has walked these same roads and knows how to help other women walk them as well.
  4. A ministry coach will help women in church leadership learn how to develop others. This does not come naturally or easily to women. Our default mode is to do a task ourselves. Women who are called both to the home and to leading in ministry must develop people under their leadership to get the work done without the “crash and burn”. A coach will help them learn how to spot, recruit and train leaders.
  5. A ministry coach will help women in church leadership pull out vision for their ministry areas and learn how to make that vision a reality.  You want your female leaders to have vision for your church. Most of them have creative minds that make them an idea factory. A coach will help them determine what vision pieces fit within the overall mission and vision of the church and what steps need to be taken to bring the vision to fruition.
  6. A ministry coach provides a safe environment in which a woman in church leadership can be transparent.  As a woman, it is a humble privilege to be a leader in the local church…but it is also very challenging. There aren’t many women serving in upper levels of leadership and sometimes it can feel isolating. They aren’t elders. They aren’t Pastor’s Wives. They aren’t Lay people. Often it feels there is no one to talk to who actually understands the uniqueness of the position. A coach will encourage these women to pour out their raw thoughts and feelings and then help them to distinguish truth from lies which will result in her operating in the power of who she is in Jesus and absorbing her God-given identity.

I’ve previously written about how my personal coach is in valuable to me. We are in year two of our coaching relationship and this still proves to be true. The demands of home life and ministry can be overwhelming. I am thankful that God has given me a Pastor who sought out a coach to help train and cheer me on! The women in your church leadership positions would no doubt feel the same. If you are interested in learning how you can take the first step in having your female church leaders coached, please complete this form and I will be glad to speak with you!

Related articles:
Women In Ministry, by Tim Bice
The Church Needs More Deborahs, by JD Greear
The Complimentarian Woman: Permitted or Pursued, by Jen Wilkin



There was a time when I took pride in the fact that my floors were so clean you could eat off them! These days, you can definitely eat off them, not because they are clean but because they very likely have food crumbs on them. Just kidding. Maybe.

What I am finding is that the more our church grows, the more time my ministry areas require and because I also have two teenage girls and a husband, my time is spent on floors less and less but on people more and more. While this is what I prefer I still desire a kept home. So, what is the solution? Well, I still haven’t figured it out however I do think I’m on the right track. Continue reading


“Less Work. More Productivity.” This is the best oxymoron I’ve put to the test and proven to be true. When my girls were very young, Scott and I had a desire that my work would always be secondary to our children. That meant I would work while they were in school and end my work day when school dismissed…that I would be available for special school functions and parties…that I would be with them on days that school was out and make it through the summers without a baby sitter. It was, and still is, a difficult goal to achieve. Sometimes I do not hit the mark, but most of the time I do. It isn’t easy. It is intentional.

My children are now teenagers with hectic lives and my ministry responsibilities have increased ten-fold; but as I continually learn to protect my work week the more my family time increases and so does my productivity.

Do you think it would be impossible for you to work less than 8-10 hours per day? This article, by Robert Locke, uncovers some of the ways I have protected my five hour work day and has given me a few new ideas to implement. (For the record #1 and #3 have always had the potential to suck my time and productivity away and are at the top of my how-to-succeed list!)


When I was a little girl I had a collection of fairytale books. My two favorites were Grimm’s and Hans Christian Andersen. It is impossible for me to select just one favorite fairytale but I do have several favorites. Among them is the Princess and the Pea. If you don’t know the story you can read a one-paragraph synopsis here. (Promise me you will not tell me that you didn’t read fairy-tales as a kid because I will only spend weeks stalking you with fairytale books trying to help you make up for lost experiences.)

Now,  one would think that I spent time as a little girl imagining myself as the Princess or what it would be like to marry the Prince. But, no. I spent my time thinking of how ludicrous the thought was that a person could feel a pea located under forty mattresses! I loved fairy-tales as much as anyone, but forty mattresses?! It was too much of a stretch.

As an adult, however, I have witnessed the tiniest of things cause the greatest of destruction. The following is not an exhaustive list but includes four things that seem small or insignificant, but will reap the most destruction. They apply to every believer but my focus will be on church leaders. Continue reading


There is an old saying, “It is lonely at the top.” I’m not sure who said it but I can almost guarantee you the leadership was a “me, not we” style. The fact is that the higher up you are in the organizational chart, the more trustworthy people you need surrounding you. Notice that I said trustworthy. I have found these three types of relationships to be the most vital in my life: Continue reading


In December 2014, I wrapped up one year of intense leadership coaching through Building Champions. My coach was a true coach in every sense of the word. She walked me through a detailed life plan, helped me set goals, and then spent the rest of the year standing behind me with a voice of encouragement. She gave me tools to help correct my sometimes weak leadership thinking. She helped me to see where I had gotten off my vision course, identify my weak spots, and empowered me to strengthen them. She even grieved with me through some tough times. I found my coach to be an essential component to 2014 being a success and I want to tell you why you should think about having a coach of your own in 2015.

To know your life purpose. Until I was coached through a Life Plan and Ministry Vision Plan, I could not tell you what I thought my life purpose was. Once I fleshed out the things that are most important to me; learned more about my personality, talents and spiritual gifts; and set my long-term goals, my life purpose came alive: Continue reading

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