Wednesday Woman of Influence – One-on-one with Nancy Beach

Two weeks ago I had the great privilege to sit down over a cup of tea with Nancy Beach.  I’ve been mulling over our conversation and thought I would finally share some of the highlights of that discussion.

I have observed Nancy from afar for several years and admire her role as a prominent woman in church leadership.  Because of what she has accomplished as a leader I think that subconsciously I assumed this has always been easy for her.  What I discovered in our meeting was that this great leader has tackled her share of challenges… some of them simply a part of ministry leadership in a mega-church like Willow, others a direct result of being a female in that role.

Here are some things I observed about Nancy from our time together:

  • She took time for me. We met the afternoon before the Gifted to Lead Conference that she was co-hosting the next day.  She didn’t appear stressed or preoccupied in spite of the many things that I’m sure were battling for her attention.  She was completely committed to the conversation with me.
  • Very confident and comfortable about who she is. She has embraced her unique gifts and plays to those strengths.
  • Easy to talk to. I felt like I was catching up with a long-time friend.
  • Great sense of humor. As focused as she is, she knows how to lighten things up and have fun.
  • Passionate about equipping other leaders, especially women. Nancy takes seriously her responsibility to help widen the path for future women leaders in the church.
  • Has found a way to develop boundaries to manage family and work life. She talked so fondly of her relationships with her husband and girls.  It’s obvious she has worked hard to find a way to live her dreams in all of these roles.
  • Has learned to not define herself by her accomplishments.

At the end of our conversation I asked Nancy what she would say to challenge me in my role as a woman in church leadership.  Here are the three things that she shared:

  1. Be intentional about creating the culture for other women leaders in your church.  Help chart the path for other women in leadership.
  2. Be willing to speak up.  Develop confidence in your gifts and operate in them.
  3. Have someone outside of the church where you serve in whom you can confide.

My 90 minute conversation with Nancy has done more to encourage me and mentor me than many of the books and conferences that I’ve consumed.  It was a treasure to be able to learn from her and be inspired.

[By the way, my friend Jan recently wrote a review of Nancy’s new book “Gifted to Lead“.  Be sure to check that out too!]

So, if you had 90 minutes to sit with someone you admire, who would it be?

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  • Crystal Renaud August 20, 2008  

    how did you score that appointment and WHY didn’t you invite me!!?? lol.

  • crosspointfitness August 20, 2008  

    Jenni, at first all kinds of godly and FAMOUS women came to mind: Beth Moore, Kay Arthur, Priscilla Shirer, etc., but then the Lord reminded me of the AMAZING women friends that do all that you listed for me and man, do I pray I am at least touching on a few of the things for them.
    Oh, and you need to know, you are my bloggin hero! (you and OCD-sister) 🙂

  • Eve Annunziato August 20, 2008  

    Thanks for sharing this invaluable information. I’m so thrilled for you and happy that you had this great experience and befriended Nancy. What an inspiration she has been for me and so many others.

    I appreciate your passion, Jenni, to equip and create a positive culture for other women leaders!

  • mandythompson August 20, 2008  

    i’d take 90 minutes with Beth Moore any day….

    i’m so glad to hear you had someone pour into you so you can pour out to us. thank you!

  • Cindy Beall August 20, 2008  

    I’m with Mandy…Beth Moore.

    Hey, maybe Mandy and I can visit with her together!!!!!!!

  • Jenni Catron August 20, 2008  

    @Crystal – Another great mentor and friend set this up for me… I’m hugely indebted to him. Next time you’ll be with me!

    @crosspointfitness & @eve – love you girls! You both inspire me daily.

    @mandy & @Cindy – if we all storm Beth’s door together, should couldn’t deny us right?

  • Andy Depuy August 20, 2008  

    I don’t if you believe this or not but i have a list
    Pete Wilson and others at Cross Point I was really impress in how everyone treats visitors at Cross Point. don’t be surprized if you see me there this Sunday.

  • Dad August 20, 2008  

    I had the great privilege to sit down that same night with the one I admire the most, Jenni Catron. Not just because you are my daughter, which is enough reason but because I have such a great admiration for all you have accomplished in your life and the focus to the future. I can’t help but think you still underestimate your position. You still have great things to accomplish and I know you will. Keep moving forward and be confident without being arrogant. Your best is yet to come, what ever that might be. Trust in God to guide you.

    Love Dad

  • Christina Schmidt August 20, 2008  

    I admire everyday people, yeah, there are the famous people, but I really believe everyone has at least one aspect about them that is admirable, you just have to give them a chance to impress you, and with me, I’m pretty easy to please, I admire anyone from single moms (I don’t think I could be strong enough) to people that just go out of their way to do something for someone else that makes a difference, without anything in return. I’ve seen you in passing, but from your blog and comments, you seem like an amazing woman, and worth meeting. I’m in agreement with Deb, though, when she says your posts are too deep for her 😉

  • janowen August 20, 2008  

    hmmmm…….I am not sure. I’d like to spend 90 minutes with Deborah, Judge and Prophet of Israel….. 🙂 I guess I will have to wait for heaven for that.

    Some I would be interested in are Nancy Beach, Ruth Barton, Darlene Zshech……..

  • tam August 21, 2008  

    um. dad? i am weeping.

    and jenni, i am being very, very serious here. not trying to be cheesy, i promise..but i would absolutely want to sit with you! period. i want to pick your brain…and i will some day…so get ready. sorry.

  • Jenni Catron August 21, 2008  

    Just in case you all weren’t sure… yes, I am a daddy’s girl! Love you too, dad!

    @Christina – we need to officially meet. Will you be at Cross Point this Sunday?

    @Tam – girl, we are going to need a lot more than 90 minutes! The feeling is mutually… I can’t wait to meet face to face.

  • Christina Schmidt August 21, 2008  

    Yes, I will be, @ the 9am

  • Michelle Wegner August 21, 2008  

    Your dad sounds like my Dad! What a great guy.

  • amabry August 22, 2008  

    Wow. What a great opportuity. Love Nancy Beach. Girl, you have always impressed me with your focus and intentionality toward growth. you continue to blow my mind. I’d love to grab coffee soon and reconnect girl.

    As for me and :90 minutes with someone . . . hmmmm. That’s a good one. Too many to think of but I’ll go with Beth Moore, too.

  • beth August 22, 2008  

    Hmmm…great post for me, since I am currently in the middle of ‘Gifted To Lead’. Read for 90 minutes yesterday while getting a spa pedicure, which was a very cool paradox…women in leadership…getting toes beautified…

    Anyway, thanks for this insight.

    And based on the comments, I’m thinking the person I’d like to sit down with might be Jenni’s dad….

  • michelle2005 August 25, 2008  

    If I had the opportunity to spend 90 minutes with someone it would be the dean of the Bible college I went to. She took me under her wing and mentored me. Eventually, I began to teach there until the Lord directed otherwise (I ended up spending many years outside the USA as a Humanitarian Aid Relief Coordinator and Educator for First Responders).

    My former dean/mentor passed away while I was in Darfur (Sudan). I also fully recognize had she not “poured” into me the way she did…I would never have been able to accomplish all that had taken place. There are no words I know to express my gratitude for the Lord blessing me with this Godly woman. Long before “Pay It Forward” was popular…she was living “pay it forward”.

    In His Hand,


  • Andy Borgmann August 28, 2008  

    I have had the privilege as well to have lunch with Nancy on two separate occasions…she is an amazing woman and a phenomenal role-model.

    Brennan Manning was the best though. Been with him on two separate occasions as well, once for an entire week. The words he said, and some of the advice, I will never forget in my life.

    As far as someone new – I would have to go with Chuck Klosterman. Not a ministry person, but fascinating writer.

  • Louise October 2, 2008  

    Susanna Wesley