How do you lead well from behind-the-scenes? Are there specific strategies that help you engage and care for your volunteers? And how can the collaboration of Christian women change the world?

behind-the-scenes leadership, volunteering, leading a volunteer team

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In this episode, I talk with Christa Hutchins, wife, empty-nester, founder of Do A New Thing, and volunteer for Proverbs 31 Ministries as a coordinator for online Bible studies. Christa shares her leadership journey, which includes leading from behind-the-scenes, her best practices for working with volunteers, and the importance of women supporting each other.

Whether you lead a volunteer team or run your own business, there are multiple takeaways from this conversation.

Christa’s Leadership Journey:

Christa grew up as the classic “bossy older sister” and held leadership positions in high school. In college, the leader of her student ministry asked Christa to lead a mission trip to Chicago, which involved planning, training, and coordinating logistics. This was the first time someone had called out leadership qualities in her.  However, because she was planning a wedding, Christa was unable to go.

“God taught me early on that as the leader, I don’t have to be the do-er.”Click To Tweet

In her career as a chemical engineer, Christa led large teams at work. To her, leadership meant authority, but when she volunteered at church, she began to see the cracks in that philosophy.

When she became an empty-nester, Christa asked God where He wanted her. He led her to volunteer at Proverbs 31 Ministries hosting an online Bible study. Volunteering there was a change of pace from her male-dominated work environment, and it made Christa nervous.

As she volunteered at Proverbs 31, she began to see a different type of leadership: servant leadership. She began to learn how to put people before projects, how to serve God by serving others, and how to still be herself.

With her business, Christa helps bloggers and creative women set up structures and processes to achieve their goals. Through Do A New Thing, she takes her project management skills and helps creative women with their big ideas.

There are all different types of leadership, and for Christa, the most foundational is self-leadership.

“It all starts with self-leadership.”Click To Tweet

Christa’s Mentors

From Melissa Taylor, the director of online Bible studies at Proverbs 31 Ministries, Christa has learned to become a student of leadership. She’s also learned how to give grace, to put people before projects, and not to give up when there’s conflict.

“You have to study to be a leader.”Click To Tweet

How Christa Embraced her Wiring as a Leader:

Christa never related to personality assessments like the Meyers-Briggs or DISC Profile because she never liked the person they described her to be. However, she loves the Strengths Finder system because she’s learned the benefits of her strengths and feels more confident in them.

She does get frustrated when she knows that she needs to put people before projects, but just can’t do it. Her strength of responsibility doesn’t mean that she’s responsible for everything, that she can wait to be asked to help.

Christa has learned to embrace her wiring because she understands how her wiring fits with other people and how each person plays in a role to work together well. As she embraces all parts of her personality, she’s learning how to embrace other people’s personalities as well.

“God is raising up women to work together.”Click To Tweet

How Christa figured out her gifts

One of Christa’s gifts is taking messy things and bringing structure to them. She figured out this was a gift when she saw the peace it brought to others. When she structured, planned, and organized for herself, she feels compulsive. When she uses this gift for others, it brings peace to her heart and to the lives of others.

Christa shares that it’s hard to recognize our own gifts because they seem so normal to us. Not until you use your gift and see how God uses it to help others, do you understand your giftings.

Christa’s Advice for Younger Leaders:

  • Don’t expect perfection from yourself. It only limits your leadership. Instead, recognize, own, and make mistakes!
  • Study leadership. Christians like Craig Groeschel and John Maxwell are excellent resources.  
“Nobody expects you to be perfect and if they do, you’re probably in the wrong place.”Click To Tweet
“Making mistakes means that you are growing.”Click To Tweet

Christa’s Message to the World

Leadership can feel very lonely. Christa strives to come alongside people and help them connect. Leaders and creatives can hit an emotional or skills wall. Because you don’t want people to think you’re weak or incapable, you often don’t connect with those who could help you.

“You don’t have to do this alone.”Click To Tweet

Christa’s Advice for Working with Volunteers

Christa is both a volunteer and works with large volunteer teams. Here are her best practices in working with volunteers:

  • It’s easy to promote the loudest, most bossy person. However, what’s most important is whether this potential volunteer is passionate about and understands what you’re doing for God.
  • The #1 criteria to look for in a volunteer is to look for someone coming alongside you to achieve the same mission you want to achieve, not coming alongside you to do a task.
  • Establish expectations for volunteers so everyone has a clear understanding of the role.
  • Look for people who aren’t wired like you and can fill in your gaps.

Christa’s Habits for Effectiveness

  • Christa uses a paper planner to record what’s been done and to make plans. She uses the calendar on her phone for appointments.
  • She has 4 to 5 to-do lists, one for each category, i.e. volunteer to-do list, business to-do list, etc.
  • She looks at her to-do lists and determines the top three activities she’ll get done, and puts those on a sticky note stuck on the corner of her laptop. Christa wants to “pre-decide” what she’ll do in her time so she doesn’t end up scrolling Facebook.

Christa’s book recommendation:

In a team environment, a great idea is for each person to read a chapter and then give a 5-minute report back to the group.

Connect with Christa Hutchins

Christa is giving away a free month of accountability coaching PLUS two free printables, “Top 10 Productivity Tips for Go-Getter Jesus Girls” and “The First 10 Things Your New Volunteer Needs to Know.”  To enter to win the free coaching and to get the freebies, go here.

Christa Hutchins is a “doer-of-things” who provides ministry coaching and project management for speakers, writers and ministry leaders. Her writing provides practical insight into moving your God-sized dream from vision to action. Christa lives in South Louisiana with her husband in their delightfully empty nest, where you usually will find her with her nose stuck in a book or sipping on a triple tall, non-fat peppermint mocha.

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behind-the-scenes leadership, volunteering, leading a volunteer team