Author Archives: Debbie Wallace-Padgett

Debbie Wallace-Padgett ~ A Season of Yeasting

I have a delicious no-fail sourdough bread recipe!  It involves a three-step process spread over one and a half days.  The key to the recipe is to give the bread dough time to “yeast” –  Sue Monk Kidd’s word for allowing bread to rise.

Kidd tells of making the bread with the assistance of her five year old daughter, Ann.  When they got to the part of adding yeast and covering the dough with a dishcloth so that it would rise, little Ann wrinkled her brow and asked, “Aren’t you going to finish?”  “We have to wait for the dough to rise,” explained her mother. “Well, how long do we have to wait?” responded Ann.  “An hour,” answered her mother.  “A WHOLE hour?” the little girl grimaced and plopped in her chair to wait it out, occasionally lifting the cloth to peek at the dough. “It’s not doing anything,” she announced. Her Mom replied, “You can’t see it, but the yeast is working. I promise.” Unconvinced, Ann wandered off to play.  Toward the end of the hour she returned to peer into the bowl. Her face lit up. “Look, Mama, it’s yeasting!” she proclaimed. (When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd, pp42-43)

Yeasting is a beautiful concept, not only in breadmaking, but also in our spiritual lives.  In fact, Advent could be called a season of yeasting. It is a time when we wait for God’s word and work in our lives. Though much is happening while we yeast, we must wait patiently for the yeasting process to be completed.

What do we do while we yeast?   The father-to-be Zechariah prays. (Luke 1:5-25)   He and his wife, Elizabeth, have waited so long for a child that he has lost hope of their prayers ever being answered. He receives the surprise of a lifetime when the angel says, “Your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son.” The yeasting process is completed and Zechariah’s hope becomes reality.

Advent praying is essential for our Advent yeasting, too. Through the mystery of prayer, we talk to God about our concerns and joys.  As we pray we hear from God, receiving direction, encouragement, and strength.  Most of us do not have the privilege of an angel coming and spelling God’s plan out for us. But God still speaks to us through a variety of means.  As we wait – as we yeast like Zechariah – we do well to pray.

We pray for forgiveness, changed hearts, and transformed lives. We ask for strength for the day, courage in the face of injustice, and generosity in our relationships with others. We lift up our loved ones, the sick, the hungry, those who do not yet know Christ, those who are persecuted for their faith. We pray for ourselves, each other, our church and our world.

But prayer is so much more than making requests of God. It involves waiting to hear God speak. It requires listening for God’s response to requests.  It means a willingness to hear God answer our heart’s desires with a yes, a no, or with a wait and yeast.

During this Advent season, like Zechariah, we wait.  We wait for God’s comfort, direction, peace, and justice in the world.  We wait while the yeasting process works in our lives, churches, and communities.  The time will come when God calls us to act.  In fact, if ever a response to God and others is demanded, it is at Christmas- which is only a few days away.  But in the meantime, I find myself waiting, yeasting so to speak.  And while I wait, my prayer life is full of talking and listening to God.   For now, that seems like enough.  After all – it is Advent – the season of yeasting.

Featured image by Nadya Spetnitskaya on Unsplash.

Debbie Wallace-Padgett ~ How We Lead

Lead Like Butler:  Six Principles for Values-Based Leaders is a good read in
which authors Kent Millard and Judith Cebula define six dimensions of what Butler University athletes call “The Butler Way.” Being a former basketball player and serious sports fan, the nomenclature “The Butler Way” has caught my imagination.

Indeed this concept has inspired the North Alabama Conference Leadership Team to include in our Conference’s Ministry Action Plan a value we call “The North Alabama Way.”  This value consists of the following six basic principles that guide how we do ministry in North Alabama.51nksrefrql-_sx332_bo1204203200_

Team matters.

Here in North Alabama, “team matters” is more than a catchy phrase.  It is a way of functioning based on our understanding that: 1) God is our ultimate team leader, 2) we are stronger together than as individuals, and 3) teams are typically more generative than solo leaders.

Respond rather than react.

This is easier said than done, especially in the current cultural and church context!  We are committed, though, to anticipating and responding to situations instead of reacting to them.  This includes pushing the pause button when emotions are driving conversations; turning off the computer and iPhone instead of shooting off reactive emails, posts and tweets; and prayerfully considering the ideas of those who disagree with us.

What we do is of critical importance. How we do it is of equal importance.

Content, programs and doctrine are only part of the equation.  How we deliver our message, live our lives, and handle situations can strengthen or diminish our actions and our witness for Christ.

The higher the expectations, the greater the outcome.

We have high expectations here in North Alabama.  We expect our growing churches to continue growing and our declining churches to turn around.  We envision spiritual leaders empowering life-giving congregations to transform the world.  We anticipate that we will discover, develop and deploy more and more spiritual leaders to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  We look forward to God continuing to work through the North Alabama Conference to reach increasing numbers of people for Christ.

Move as quickly as we can and as slowly as we need to, for as long as it takes.

This “pacing” principle requires three qualities: a sense of urgency, the discipline to slow down when necessary, and the patience to keep on keeping on. Such pacing is an art that allows us to move forward together.

Follow the process and honor integrity at all levels of the system.

We acknowledge that we do not always get this principle right.  However, when we realize that we have jumped steps or levels in our own processes and system, we are committed to self-correcting.

I have a deep appreciation for “The Butler Way.”  I am even more enthralled with “The North Alabama Way” – the six principles that guide how we do ministry in the North Alabama Conference.