Day 15: Leadership Lessons: Morality

Day 14: Go Where The Favor Is

Day 18: Ask For What You Want

Day 19: Mentorship Matters

Day 16: Leadership Lessons: Attention To Details

Day 20: People Are Always Watching

"Darlene Hope

is skilled at handling considerable humor!"

-New York Times

Day 12: Pity Parties and Blame Games

Day 17: Leadership Lessons: Kindness and Generosity

"Darlene Hope

is Sly, Wise & Funny!"


Day 11: Rising Above The Chatter

Day 13: A Harvest Exists!

(Ruth 1:19)

Ruth and Naomi are on their way now! Hope has filled their hearts and they have finally made it back to Naomi's home country. Can you imagine how excited and happy they must have been after all of their pain and heartache, the long journey home, and then to arrive and see so much blessing around them? I can imagine they were both so overjoyed! Cue the haters!! No sooner had Naomi and Ruth arrived that they attract the attention of the whole city. And interestingly, they don't seize upon Ruth who most likely dressed and looked differently, but they go directly for the jugular: Naomi. "Is this Naomi", they exclaim! And I love how the writer includes this question because you can almost hear the tone in which it was asked. Snarky, sarcastic, hater-ade drinking folks oooh oooh oooh! We have all met these types, right? And they come for Naomi the moment she sets foot back in town.

We've talked about the challenges that come when you make the decision to strive for your God-given destiny, but let's talk now about your past and how that's going to play into how people watch your journey. We've prayed together and placed our pasts into the hands of our Heavenly Father, but people are a matter altogether separate. You will still have to deal with the people who have seen you at your worst. People rarely forgive and never forget. And you bet they will have opinions about your new life. Pray for wisdom. Every day. Don't be proud, and don't forget who brought you this far. Your Heavenly Father can and will advise you how to handle the naysayers. In my case, God rarely has me verbally address liars, thieves, and people seeking to devour my character. He is my defense, and in our relationship He takes great pride in handling that kind of stuff. I have learned to sit back and let Him handle it. And He always does!

An interesting thing happened to me in 2013 in regard to this subject. God chose to reveal His favor to me. I'd been working diligently to make a great impression on my new job. The pressure to perform at my best every moment was high. But one night, I failed miserably. The very snarky wife of one of our Managing Partners and I had a slight disagreement. In the great scheme of things, this tiff would not even matter, but because I was working under a microscope and my every move was being scrutinized, it mattered a lot. In the moment, I legitimately fell apart. I panicked and couldn't think or respond as smoothly as I normally would. As I grew more flustered, this Partner's wife soared into a fiery rage. And boy did she let me have it verbally! I thought, 'this is it, I'll get fired now', and the next day I came in ready to get the ax. But a funny thing happened. This woman had not only gone to her high powered husband and complained, she'd also gone to a number of other high ranking personnel to pursue getting me fired. But instead, it backfired! That next day I hadn't heard from any of my superiors about the incident. Then late that night I saw the head of my department walking toward my desk. I almost passed out from terror. Imagine the most fearsome, unamused woman you've ever seen. She was literally made of steel and the tears of fearful employees like me! As she arrived at my desk, I couldn't believe what came out of her mouth. She profusely apologized to me! Her voice lowered, she leaned in and whispered how sorry she was that this Partner's wife had berated me so. She advised me that her husband had been so mortified at her entitled behavior that he scolded her about screaming rudely at anyone in his workplace. He refused to even consider her empty complaint. He and all of my bosses were agreed that they felt I deserved an apology. And that, friends, is how God works!

You don't need to answer those who wish to relive every mistake that you've made, or bring up every moment of your past. Allow God to be your defense, and He will be. Your past is now under God's protection. If He has forgiven you, then you are completely forgiven. You can stand in that forgiveness with freedom and confidence!

Lets pray again, to seal what we've learned:

Heavenly Father, we come to You with thankfulness and gladness! Thank you so much for every blessing that You've given to us, and for Your love and goodness. Most of all, Lord, we thank you for hearing our cry for help and forgiving us for our past mistakes. You are an amazing and incredible God. There is nothing we can do to deserve Your love, grace, or forgiveness. You give it freely because You are good. You are the definition of love. Help us now to stand confidently in Your forgiveness. Give us the faith to know that everything You have done for us is complete, and that we don't have to worry. Help us to know exactly what to do when the accusers come. Give us clear direction on what to say and how to respond. And if we are to hold our peace, let us know that as well. If we are to face this challenge, give us a greater measure of Your peace while we endure. We love you, Lord. Thank you for loving us first! Amen.


(Ruth 1:20-21)

What happens when we don't rest in the knowledge that our past and present journey is covered with God's love? Naomi shows us exactly what happens. Her accusers come, bringing with them the reminders of her past and asking about her present state. And instead of opening a door for more blessings to flow, she slips right into a pity party. Now, I don't want it to seem as if I'm coming down too hard on Naomi. She has been through a more daunting challenge than many of us will ever face. Our problems most likely pale in comparison to this kind of family tragedy. And yet I am all too guilty of blaming God for my issues, or throwing a big 'ole pity party. If I told you how many pints of ice cream or tubs of guacamole with chips I've eaten while sulking in my problems and trying to hide from the world, you'd be shocked. Yes, I went there! If we're going to be honest....let's get really honest! I am the queen of throwing pity parties! So I do not judge Naomi for asking questions, worrying, or feeling badly. But we must understand that taking this route leads us nowhere.

You'll notice here that as Naomi wallows in her pity party, the facts start to get muddled. That's a prime example of how self pity effects our hearts and minds. The more you languish in it, the more it begins to cloud your thoughts and emotions. It's a slippery slope and a downward spiral. You get consumed, and soon all you can perceive is that everything is working against you. You begin to ignore the wonderful, positive things that are working in your favor. Naomi says, "I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty." That's not true. It's her emotionally-charged, self-clouded opinion of what happened. Naomi forgets that her entire country was in famine. Everyone was suffering. Her family was not alone or unique in their trouble. They departed in an effort to escape a negative situation that was effecting everyone. But Naomi cannot see that while her vision is clouded with self-pity. And soon her self-pity progresses into blaming God. And when we rage against God, it is as futile as a toddler fighting against their parent. It gets us nowhere. We exhaust ourselves with emotionalism, and God calmly waits until we are ready to come back to Him in humility. Because just like a father, He holds the answer to our needs.

When you are encountered with doubt, there is only one thing that can change your frame of mind and change your circumstances. Get alone with God. Get into His presence. That is where all of your answers are. That is where your peace is. Believe me, I have tried it all. I have scheduled advice sessions with my friends, spa days, even late night calls with my mother. As wonderful and valuable as those things are, I will lay in bed at night and my heart will still cry out. The only thing that settles my heart is seeking out the answers with the One who holds them all. God created you. He numbered every pore on your skin and every hair on your head. He knows every challenge of your life before it ever happens. Why would you seek out answers in friends, distractions, or at the bottom of a glass of wine? Because God knows us better than we know ourselves, He knows how to comfort us better than we can even verbalize or request. And here, I feel prompted to tell someone out there that although God always hears your request for answers, He doesn't always give them to you immediately when you ask. He knows when we are capable and mature enough to understand and learn from those answers, so for our own good He sometimes holds the explanations in his bosom until we have the capacity to receive it. Whomever I am speaking to right now, understand that God still hears you and loves you even though He is not giving you the blunt explanation you are asking for right now. Be patient. He will give you the answer in due time. Trust Him. And in the meantime, He will give you peace in the midst of the storm. That's why you must come to Him.

There are many different ways you can come to God. My relationship with Him is very open and free-form. There's nothing religious or formal about my connection to Him, its very personal. I have invited Him to inhabit my home. I sing to Him. I realized a long time ago that a relationship with God is like a relationship with a tangible person in that when He tugs at my heart, all I need to do is answer. I make time for Him in my day. And just like if He were my husband or friend, when He calls my name I stop what I'm doing and give Him my attention. That's how it works. It's not weird or complicated or rigid. It's treating Him with the love and attention that you want in return. That's love. It's putting Him first. Let's pray:

Heavenly Father, Lord of all, Owner of every opportunity and answer. We come to You now with humble hearts. We have been through so many challenges, and we've made so many mistakes. We need You. We need Your presence. We need Your love, and Your touch. Come to us right now. Make Yourself real to us right here where we are. We want to know You. We want to spend time with You, and give You the opportunity to speak to our hearts. There is nothing that we can do in our own strength to reach our greatest potential. Guide us please. We put You first. We choose to follow Your lead from this day forward. Help us to recognize Your voice, so that when You call us we can answer.

Now for the next few minutes, talk to God. He's your friend. He loves you more than you'll ever be able to comprehend. Tell Him your worries and your struggles. Confide in Him. He's waiting on you. Don't hurt Him by ignoring Him. Give Him some of your time right now. He's the only one in the world who will be there no matter where you are to listen and hold you when you are hurt and frustrated. It's this relationship that is the gold mine. If your connection with God is strong, everything else will fall into place.

(Ruth 1:22)

A harvest exists for you. And this is the time that you will begin to enter into it. You must believe that.

The struggles that you've gone through are not coincidental or by chance. The reason you were permitted to pass through them (and pass through them you did) was because there were strategic lessons that you needed to learn that will comfort and support you in this new harvest. This is what is meant in Psalm 23 when it says, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." A shepherd's rod and staff are not items you would immediately associate with comfort, but with asserting authority and guidance. It is the lessons of your darkest hour that provide the authority and guidance you will need for your harvest.

A harvest exists. And this is the time that you will begin to enter into it. You must believe that.

It was in those dark times that your faith was tested and built up. In those times God revealed His nature to you. You had to fully trust Him. And now you can say with confidence that He is faithful, He is good, He is loving, He protects, He gives. You've matured. You've grown. You've graduated to your next level. So now that this work is complete, what will you do with the bounty of knowledge that you have gained? It is like a gift that you've been entrusted with. Who will you give it to? It has not been given to you so that you can keep it for yourself. It has been given so that your transformation can be a public declaration of God's glory and magnificence. Your life is the evidence of His glory in the earth. Will you have the faith the step out and open your mouth and allow Him to fill it with the words you must speak? You're stronger now. Will you have the faith to show forth that strength?

A harvest exists. And this is the time that you will begin to enter into it. You must believe that.

In the days to come you will see the harvest laid before you. But seeing it and entering in and accepting it into your life, are two different things. In order to enter into it, you must launch out in faith and speak. You must test your strength and mettle. That is when you will notice that things that were once hard for you are now surprisingly easy. That is when you will truly notice what you have gained in the fire. You are purer. Stronger. More resilient. Able to be used. Naomi and Ruth did not exit Moab intending to enter Israel at the specific moment of harvest. They heard the word of God, and when they heard it, they simply stepped out in faith. When they arrived at their destination they saw that it was the beginning of the harvest season. It was God's plan that they arrive at the beginning of harvest, not theirs. Why? Because His will is that you have the opportunity to take full advantage of the harvest. It is an opportunity arranged by God Himself. He wants to make sure that you experience it all, the very fullness of His blessings. Also, this marks a new beginning for Naomi and Ruth. This is their reset button. And this moment is yours as well. God has just hit the reset button for you. After all the pain, the agony, the tears, and sleepless nights. You have passed through the famine. It is over. God says that it is OVER! And now you are starting completely fresh at the beginning of a harvest designed just so that you can blossom into the person you were destined to be! Rejoice! A harvest exists. And this is the exact time destined from before the foundation of the world for you to enter into it. Believe and recieve it. Step into it now by faith.

(Ruth 2:1-3)

If Naomi and Ruth arriving at the beginning of harvest season was a sign from God, then Ruth's request of Naomi was her step of faith. She requests to go glean in the fields, but not just any field. She requests to glean where she can find grace. And by grace, we are talking about FAVOR! There are two halves to this decision that I want to talk with you about today. The first half of this decision is that she wants to go where the favor is, and the second half is that she wants to go where the favor is accessible specifically to her.

Friends, as you work toward your pinnacle, you will undoubtedly come across the statistics about how many companies close before truly getting started, and how many ventures end in failure. At the very least, this information is intimidating. For me these statistics make me feel more like I'm drowning in fear. My mind is incredibly active and imaginative, as it should be for my acting and writing career. But its hard to shut my imaginative mind off when I seize on something negative. Before long, I'm paralized with overwhelming fear. If you find yourself feeling this way as you stand at the base of your mountain looking at how much work it will take to reach the pinnacle, it's important to do as Ruth does in this moment when she also could have been seized with fear. Imagine her mountain for just a moment. She'd just come to a new home, new country, complete with new customs. She'd been thrust onto the bottom rung of poverty, relegated to beg for what little provision she was about to recieve. Can you imagine knowing that the first impression you'll have on the people that you plan to live the rest of your life with will be one of begging? Especially knowing that you were once wealthy and well-taken care of? That is the identical & very painful truth for many entrepreneurs today. Here you are, talented, smart, accomplished, but you've launched out in faith into this new venture and the first thing you've got to do is circle around to all of your former colleagues and beg for seed money. That pinnacle will never seem as high and as far away as it may seem in this very moment.

But here is what Ruth did. She didn't set her sights on just laying out her plans and hopes to every Tom, Dick and Harry available. She was determined to go where she would find FAVOR. There's that word again! "FAVOR". I love it! What is it? Favor is the divine, undeserved benevolence of God. Yes, in this moment you need to set your sights to pursue the favor of God! And Ruth realized that is a different goal than just spreading the word about her need and asking for help. Friend, take a moment to think right now about the people and places where you KNOW that God's favor lives. The most prosperous field. The most fertile territory. The people and places that lie within God's favor will most likely be different than simply the wealthiest and most powerful people and places. That is to be expected. Everyone did not come into their prosperity by positive means, and you don't need to muddy up your destiny with sinister people and purposes. Seek out people who are shining with the light of having reached their God-destined pinnacle. Why? Because people who have made it out of their own poverty or limitations and risen to their pinnacle will understand where you are coming from and what you are trying to do. They will respect the leap of faith you're making. That doesn't mean that you will win their financial support, and it doesn't mean that people with little resources cannot help you. But you will surely be more likely to find kindred spirits when you seek out the favor of God rather than just funding and networking. Seeking God's favor will lead you to strategic and profetic encouragement. You also need to keep your mind on the big picture, and that is why Ruth went to a prosperous environment when she could have gone anywhere. She never wanted to get bogged down in the minutia, but wanted to keep her heart set on the high peak she was ascending to. She wanted to keep her end goal in front of her!

The second part of this decision had to do with her assessment of her own talents and environment. Ruth decided to go where she specifically would find grace. Now, this next point is important, so listen up. Everyone isn't in your corner. Everyone doesn't like you, and everyone doesn't want you to succeed. You don't need to allow this thinking to overtake your mind, but you do need to acknowledge that it is true. Ruth was not heading to one of the fields owned by those naysayers from Chapter 1:19. She wasn't going to expose her need to people who she knew didn't have her best interest at heart. Yes, they might have helped her, but they most likely would have used that kindness against her at a later date. And I'm going to use this moment to warn you about those who you may request support from at this level of your climb. Beware of people who want to leech onto you just because they want to piggy back on what they see is a great venture, or moreover, the greatness within you. Also beware of people who will require an unreasonable level of loyalty in exchange for their support. When God gives anything to us, it requires nothing in return. God's gifts, talents, love...even His Son Jesus...all came as free gifts to us. He commands us to give to others in the same way, freely. Why would He want you beholden to an individual who demands you bow down to them just because they had the good sense to support a smart and fertile venture? Oh sure, you can give loyalty as a joyful response from your sincere heart, but it shouldn't be shackled around your neck as an expectation. That makes you a slave to a person, and not a servant to God and His will for your life.

Prayerfully surround yourself with people who, because of God's blessing and favor, are where you aspire to be. Why? They will know what it is like to have unrealistic expectations built into offers of support, and they will not burden you with the same. They understand that is not God's will for your future. Ruth goes where she will be among kindred spirits, and sure enough she finds herself among loving, godly people who recognize her worth and treat her in the benevolent, uncompromising way she treats Naomi.

(Ruth 2:4)

Although Boaz is mentioned in Chapter 2:1 there's a reason why I wanted to wait to begin discussing him until now. It is not until verse 4 that we have our first glimpse of him through his own words. Prior to this, we only hear about his wealth. And I think that people focus way too much on Boaz's money. It just goes to show that even in Biblical study, we have to be careful about how our minds interpret things. That being said, I've waited to cover Boaz because we hear his words for the first time here, and it is in the context of his business and the type of leader he is. Everything people need to know about you they will be able to see by the way you conduct your daily affairs and lead others. This will apply more now that you are striving to stand at your pinnacle. You are a leader. I believe that is why you were drawn to this website and this journey. You are seeking to reach the best within yourself. So for the next 3 days let's talk about what it is going to take to be a great leader. We'll learn from Boaz himself, a man who exemplified strength, authority, wit, humility, patience, and who was an impeccable businessman.

What's the first thing we ever hear from the mouth of Boaz? "The Lord be with you." A personal blessing, from him to his workers. How about them apples! If we are to develop into the great leaders that we are designed to be, the best leaders possible, the first thing that we need to learn is that we can't check our morality at the door when we lead. This applies even in the secular world. What is morality? It is simply virtuous conduct and character. Don't get caught up in the religious sense of the term morality here. Allow yourself to think of this concept more broadly. Many times people do derive their morality from their religious beliefs. But morality is not purely religious belief. Morality can be derived from many sources. My point is, no matter where you derive your good character and virtue...bring that with you when you step into your leadership role.

I know it is tempting to pull back. You'll hear every excuse from your colleagues. You'll hear people say things like, "You can't be too nice to your workers or they won't respect you". Nothing could be farther from the truth! That is an example of poor leadership skills passed down from other poor leaders. Lead with your heart. Your co-workers and the people who surround you need you to be invested in their well-being. I have had the privilege of learning many things about leadership from the greatest and most powerful leaders of our time. Sadly, many of those lessons actually revolve around how NOT to lead, and how NOT to treat the people who operate within my care. I now understand exactly who I am not going to be while reaching my pinnacle. And I know some of you can understand what I mean by that. For those who need a little illustration, here's an example. I once had a co-worker who was commuting back and forth from another state to New York for work each week. Can you imagine how exhausting that was week after week for him? And when a huge blizzard hit his hometown, my heart broke for this fellow and his family because I knew they were suffering through a very tough time. A week after the storm, all of New York City was back to its normal activity but this man's hometown was still crippled with record snowfall. He was noticeably the only absent employee that week. When I asked our boss if he'd heard anything from him and if he was ok, our boss' reply was that it "wasn't his problem". Can you believe that? And we wonder why employees have heart attacks and panic attacks at work. We wonder why employees lose all hope and resort to violence in their offices. And of course I know that mental illness and gun control can be big factors in these incidents, but for me the more prevalent issue is that we have sadly embraced a culture where it is frowned upon to care about each other. What would have happened to us if God had never bothered to care?

When you lead with morality, compassion and heart, it opens up new levels of cooperation, teamwork, and joy in others. The world longs for great leaders who understand that people are precious. We are not numbers, we are not capital, we are not expendable. We are God's irreplaceable, undefinable, wondrous children. And when you care about God's children, you show the world that you care about who he created you to be as well. Look now at the immediate response that Boaz's employee has when he greets him with a kind blessing. The worker responds, "The Lord bless thee". So if you want someone to bless you, guess what you need to do first? Start blessing the people around you! Speak into them what God sees in them. Care about them in the way that God cares about them. Love them. And that love will come pouring back into your life in ways innumerable! That is true leadership. It is taking the initiative to change the moral atmosphere wherever you are.

(Ruth 2:5)

One of my favorite Oprah Winfrey quotes is, "Love is in the details"! It's so true, isn't it? You can tell what a person loves by what they attend the details to.

The first thing Boaz notices when he comes to his field is that someone new is gleaning behind the reapers. Here is the owner of the field, employer to the reapers, President and CEO of this business, and he notices immediately that something different is happening to the portion of the grain that is typically discarded and left for the poor and destitute. He could easily have first asked for a report on how the crops are fairing, how much grain was being harvested, or something that we might consider more worthy of his attention. But friends, great leaders pay attention to details.

Don't allow details to slip through your fingers and go unnoticed. That tiny detail that may seem unnoticeable to you could mean the world to someone else. And it is not enough to delegate the details to someone else, thinking that you are above them. You must remain connected and sensitive to the needs of the people around you, just as God is sensitive to your needs. Think about it. God cares so much about the details of your life that He even sends cool breezes to kiss your cheeks every now and then to show you that He loves you! If God cares that much about the smallest details, why shouldn't we?

One Christmas I was working in a small office with just a few employees. Our work force was hunble and middle-class, while our employer was from a well-to-do, affluent family. It was well known that he didn't care to interact with the employees. This particular Christmas, we'd planned a fun employee pot luck and each employee was asked to bring in one of their favorite dishes. Everyone brought in a dish! It wasn't much, but it was terribly exciting for our small, quirky staff. Even the men who hated cooking ordered extra pizzas to be delivered so as not to be left out of the comradery. On the day of our party, guess who didn't come to work? Now, I believe in forgiveness and understanding, but that small detail (though not very significant in the great scheme of things) made a deep difference in the hearts of my co-workers that day. It is not only your actions that speak loudly, but also your inactions.

Where is your focus? Are you focused on the same things that God is? Ask Him to help you focus on the things that He is focused on, and see what a huge difference it makes! He will train your eyes to notice the details. All of a sudden you will remember to say hello to the people who serve you. Serving others is a humble way to make a living. Acknowledging them and showing them that you notice the work they are doing to make your life easier is a small act that has a huge impact. Someone you pass today may have just lost their mother, or perhaps their child is fighting cancer. Someone around you is longing to be seen. Someone around you feels invisible. One word from you could change their life. Can we really afford to look through people and ignore them? Can we afford to lose lives and allow them to slip through our fingers. Let's pray:

Lord, we come to You now with humble hearts, asking Your forgiveness. We have lost touch with so many people around us who need love, acceptance and hope. Remove the blinders from our eyes, oh Lord. Let us see people the way that You see them. Help us to pay close, careful attention to details. We long to be like You. We long to see beyond our own cares and concerns. We long to make a real difference in the lives of the people we see each day. Help us, dear Lord. Be our guide. Be our teacher. Don't let one person in need pass our way without our noticing and offering them the love we so freely receive from you. Thank you Lord for being our helper in this. Amen.

(Ruth 2:4-6)

I had an incredibly unique experience today that I'd like to share with you. I hope you don't mind if I segway from my experiences in 2013 to talk briefly with you about what happened today! As an actress, I often take meetings with other industry people, and I honestly think the meeting I had today was not an accident considering that I'm sitting here now writing these words to you. I met with a woman positioned to assist me with moving to the next level in my creative endeavors. To be honest, I went into the meeting looking for acceptance, a grave mistake I only saw after the fact. What a misplaced desire! At a critical point in the conversation, this woman began to hammer me in the most negative way. She began criticizing my credentials, my work, my body and appearance, even my personal life. I was so shocked that I was literally speechless. (And you can imagine how difficult it is to do that!) I left the meeting feeling as if I wanted to burst into tears and scream at the same time. I was broken. I thought to myself, "Why are people using their power and their words to destroy others?"

I have learned time and again that great leaders understand that their words and actions have power. They lead with kind spirits and generous hearts. They lead by serving and building up others rather than tearing vulnerable people down. This woman was the opposite type of leader that Boaz is shown to be in Ruth 2:4-6. There is so much that I learn from the simple exchanges between Boaz and his workers. It is clear that he appreciates them, and vice versa. It is clear they trust each other and have a positive relationship. The flow of information is free and honest. Also, the leader of the reapers does not stop to explain who Naomi is, because it is clear that Boaz already knows. This is a tight knit community. And from Naomi's entrance into the city we already know that all of the relationships are not positive, but Boaz has chosen to create an environment around himself that is kind and generous. So much so that when he ventures to provide for Ruth and instructs his reapers to protect and help her (which we'll discuss in the days to come) no one bats an eye, and they follow his lead without argument or question. Do you know what that says to me? Boaz is in the habit of being kind and generous, and the people around him are like-minded and comfortable with the way in which he expresses his leadership. Oh how I wish the woman I met with today had learned from Boaz's example!

Now let's get personal and ask ourselves some hard questions. What do people think about your leadership? What are they learning about your character from the example you set for them? What messages are they passing along to others about doing business with you? It is true that you cannot control what everyone thinks of you, but you probably have an idea of the general perception that others have of you. Do people think you're stingy? Do you indulge your own selfish impulses or desires and then get angry or frustrated when your co-workers ask for extra perks as well? What about the tone of your office. Do people trust you? Do they confide their honest thoughts and opinions to you or do they police every word because you cannot be trusted. Is there positive comradery and joy amongst your colleagues. Are they excited to work with you each day? I can't tell you how important it is to be honest about the atmosphere you've created around yourself. That atmosphere doesn't just effect others, it effects you too. If you create an environment that is oppressive and cold, you also will become depressed, rigid, and vindictive. And that kind of negativity will ripple throughout every relationship you have.

It is never too late to start creating a generous and encouraging environment around you. Start by not allowing anyone to leave your presence torn down or dejected. If you break them, fix them. If need be, go back to them and make it right. Your words have power. Leadership is a privilege. The power that comes with leadership has both possible consequences and benefits for you. Boaz's kind and generous leadership style literally magnified the impact of his reach, and it lead to his marriage, his family, his legacy, and his name being recorded for all time. We are still talking about Boaz today because of the way he chose to lead!

(Ruth 2:7)

It's time that we stop waiting for someone to tap us on the shoulder and lift us up out of obscurity. If you think about it, it's a prideful and selfish idea to begin with, isn't it? Yes, God guides and provides for us, but He also commands us to ASK and we shall receive, KNOCK and it shall be opened, SEEK and we shall find. Imagine this: You've invited a friend over for dinner at 7pm one evening. You've cooked a fabulous meal, set a beautiful table, turned on your guest's favorite music, and lit a cozy fire. You're all set to entertain, but 7pm comes and goes without a word from the guest. You check your phone several times and no calls or messages have been missed. 8pm comes and goes. 9pm comes and goes. 10pm comes and goes. Angry and frustrated you turn off the music, douse the fire, and toss the cold, stale meal that you'd prepared into the trash. Just as you open the door to take the trash out to the curb, you see your friend sitting on the doorstep. They're also frustrated and angry. "What are you doing here so late", you exclaim. "I've been waiting out here the whole evening", they reply. "Why didn't you open the door at the appointed time?" You see the sadness in their eyes and feel genuinely sorry for the mix up. "I'm so sorry", you say, "But WHY didn't you KNOCK?"

God has prepared an incredible feast for you. You have heard the invitation directly from His heart to yours, and that is why you are reading the Pinnacle Project, poised for your next level. But you must ask specifically for what you want. You must project out to the world the exact destination that you purpose to arrive at. It won't float down from heaven on its own without your active participation. Have you stopped to talk to God specifically about what it is you want to achieve? Have you told Him the exact type of business you want to have and how many people you'd like to help? Have you talked to Him about the husband you want to have, what you want your relationship to be like, and what you want to accomplish at his side? These are the prayers that God wants to hear! He wants you to pour your heart out to Him. He wants to be your best friend and business partner. If you can express to Him your desires, then you can express it to investors, donors, shareholders, and customers! Before you meet with anyone, meet with God and share your ideas and dreams with Him. Tell Him exactly what you want. If you can do that, then fear and intimidation will leave you, and you'll be able to ask even the most influential person to help you achieve your goals.

Ruth was not shy about asking specifically for what she wanted. She said it out loud. And she was rewarded with much, much more. She asked, and then somewhere along the way it became noted how hard she was working to achieve her goal. She stood out because she asked, and then followed the request up with diligent, focused work. Now imagine yourself in that same situation. Say out loud what you want...right now! Go ahead. Be bold. Who cares if someone else is watching you right now. Have the faith to ask for exactly what you want and what you deserve as a child of God! There have been times when I was afraid to say what I truly wanted because it seemed so impractical and so far fetched from where I was. But that fear was based in my not knowing or believing in who God was and who He created me to be. God is NOT limited to our means. He is only limited by our faith. God is King of all, the Opener of any door, the Creator of all opportunities, and the Ruler of all wealth and provision. You are His child. You are royalty! Speak your greatest dreams in faith now, knowing that there is no request too big for God to grant. And from now on, never be afraid to ask for all that you desire. God gave you a voice. Use it!

(Ruth 2:8-9)

It does. Mentorship absolutely matters. This is a subject very dear to my heart because I have had many wonderful mentors in my life and career, and I have also actively mentored young artists and actors. Very few things bring me greater joy than mentorship!

So here is Ruth. In a new land, surrounded by new possibilities, and she has requested help. That's how mentorship begins, friends. With vulnerability and truth. It begins with finding a safe place to speak about the challenges that you're currently facing. I remember sitting with a mentor and confessing something to her that felt so incredibly risky to me. It almost felt as if I was undressing. I told her that I needed her help to become a better, more confident and refined woman. I was born into a family with very little means, but was now being placed into circumstances that required me to be more polished and refined. I didn't have the tools to be the woman I knew I needed to be in those situations. My mentor had grown up in a life that was privileged and cultured. I watched her move daily throughout male-dominated business relationships with such class and refinement. I marveled at how easily this lady-like behavior flowed from her. I was tired of feeling out of place and ashamed, so when this wonderful relationship began to unfold between us, I took a chance and expressed my need to her. As Boaz hears Ruth's circumstances, his natural inclination is to provide her with detailed guidance and protection. And that is the truth of what a mentor does. Mentorship is not someone just filling your head with their opinions. A mentor provides guidance and protection. They are paying close attention to how you develop and they care about making sure your journey is a safe and prosperous one. In my own life, I make certain that I individually tailor the relationships that I have with my mentees. Some need spiritual guidance and a prayer partner, others need to literally be invited into situations they could not have access to on their own.

Reaching your pinnacle will not happen by chance. By now you know this. You've started on your journey, and just like Ruth you've come face to face with the truth of what you have going for you and what you are lacking. You have set your sights on fertile territory to begin work, and now is the time that God will lead you into strategic relationships where mentors can emerge. But here's the thing, none of this would have mattered if Ruth hadn't followed Boaz's advice. She could have walked away from his offer of mentorship. And let's be clear, Boaz was not offering her a handout. He offered to take responsibility for her. He offered to oversee her efforts to get back on her feet and onto the path of the new life she'd chosen. Yes, she would benefit by now having access to provision, but she also would have to follow the parameters set up by Boaz and his workers. So Ruth had a clear opportunity to reject this mentorship relationship. She could have politely declined and replied that she and Naomi had made the long journey together and that they would just need the extra help until they figured out a way to get their own fields and property back up and running. She could have gone right into her "independent woman" speech and informed Boaz that she was perfectly capable of figuring out which fields she wanted to glean from. But Ruth was smart enough to recognize the value in a mentor relationship.

Friends, I have seen people miss opportunities for great blessings and insight by not being willing to accept and submit to a great mentorship relationship. Perhaps even you have missed out on an opportunity to learn from a great leader, and now hindsight is 20/20. But it is not too late! God is about to bring new mentors into your life - people with focused minds and of strong character who can help you reach this new pinnacle you've set out to achieve! And right here I feel compelled to talk a little about how to recognize a great let's discuss that a bit. First, recognize that mentors are sent to your life from God. Sometimes its hard to even understand fully how you became connected to someone who you might not typically have such personal access to. I have never advertised that I am a mentor, but without question new mentees come into my life as God wills. For example, I have a friend whom I cherish very much whose daughter is deeply fascinated by the arts. My friend has often brought her daughter to spend time and speak with me. A few days ago she asked me to mentor her daughter more, one on one. I take this invitation as a great privilege and am happy to accept this responsibility. This is a small example of how mentor relationships come about. Your first clue that God has brought this person into your life is that you will not have to orchestrate the relationship. You won't need to beg or plead for days and weeks for a meeting, or have to chase the person down by email. It will be an open door that you can simply walk through! Secondly, you must realize that mentors are not casual friends. They will not be drinking buddies or fishing buddies. They do not coddle you and hold you up when you make a wrong step. A mentor will speak truth to you. That truth will of course be in love, but more important than your emotions, their minds are focused on where they sense you need to go and they are looking out for your best interest. That truth is the most valuable part of the relationship. It is access to wisdom that you did not have to obtain on your own. Of course, you may at some time develop a friendship with them, but always remember that this mentor is deserving of your respect. Lastly, a mentor is standing in the place you aspire to go. Mentors are not random powerful or influential people. Whether spiritual, emotional, career-related or otherwise, a mentor will have successfully achieved the level where you want to go. They live on that level. It is the world that they now own and operate within. That is how they can help you get there. A person cannot lead someone to a place they have never been before. And I dare to even say that they cannot easily lead to a place they've only been once or twice. So please hear me clearly when I say that someone who is an equal to you is not a mentor. Yes, you can still develop relationships with colleagues and friends, and even positive influences. But be careful how much of your personal vulnerabilities you expose to them. Only a mentor can provide you the real truth about how to get from point a to point z.

In the book of Ruth, we see how these three points apply perfectly to Boaz as well. He is exactly where Ruth desires to be, blessed, fulfilled, happy, and prosperous. His introduction to Ruth is orchestrated directly from God via the foreman of Boaz's field. Even still we never get to read exactly the moment when Ruth is introduced to him. It just happens. The relationship begins. And that is how God works! Lastly, Boaz never attempts to adjoin himself as a friend or equal to Ruth. He begins right away in establishing the provisionary relationship, guiding and protecting her toward her goal. If God has placed a mentor in your life, do not reject the relationship. Yes, it comes with responsibility, but it also reaps much benefit. You will be stronger, more supported, more knowledgeable, and you'll find yourself on a faster track to your goals!

(Ruth 2:10-11)

We've talked about how negative repercussions can emerge from the attention of those around you, but let's talk now about the positive. You have set your sights on a pretty ambitious goal. You have decided that the status quo is not good enough for you. You are now actively pursuing your God-given destiny. That is going to attract some notice for sure. If you haven't felt the eyes of the people around you resting on you as of yet, get ready. They will watch every move that you make to see how you react to difficulties, handle changes, and carry the banner of your next level. And to be sure that is exactly what needs to happen. Ruth has this perfect moment of humility with Boaz where she falls to her knees at the offer of his generosity and asks why on earth he is going out of his way to be so kind to her. And his response is equally as humble. He tells her it is because he has heard about every step she's taken that has brought her to the place where she is standing. The way he says this carries with it the weight of his deep appreciation. And though we don't know much at this point about Boaz's personal relationships or family life, something in Ruth's story and journey has resonated within him very deeply.

This is the reason why you must persist in your journey toward your pinnacle. It's been 20 days. We are half way through this journey together! You began because you were tired of how your life was unfolding, and weary of not living up to your full potential. It was a deeply personal decision. But you must continue on because there are other people who need you to succeed. Someone needs to see you live fully and with purpose. Someone needs your example.You will find that the purpose for reaching your pinnacle will transition from personal to public.

We never know who Boaz has talked to prior to this conversation. But we can gather from this exchange that lots of people know Ruth's story now in this small community. She is famous and she has only just arrived. I think that's perfect. You may never know who has watched your evolution and taken nourishment from it. Many times the people you touch won't be able to express to you how your example changed their lives, but you must keep going. As a young woman nearing my final year in college, there was a professor who said to me that he could see me at an ivy league graduate program. It blew my mind. No one had ever said anything like that to me before. It wasn't something I'd ever thought about. His words made me dream for myself. It opened up a world of possibility to me that I hadn't known was within my grasp. I remember that day as if it was yesterday because it shifted my perspective in a dynamic way. And that professor may never know how his words changed my life. That is what your life is going to accomplish for someone else. As you ascend, you may face obstacles and disapointments. Every single one of those obstacles is an opportunity for a testimony. You will literally change lives. Perhaps like Ruth you will meet or hear of someone who has been uplifted by the example that you are setting. Regardless of that, rest assured that your rise is being recorded in heaven and here on earth!