Growing up, my boys had many talents that were evident. Building furniture wasn’t one of them, but they have both surprised me by cultivating this talent in their adult lives. They have learned these skills independently and so far both have built beautiful tables for their dining rooms. Just so you can see how impressive these tables are:
People have offered them lots of money to make tables for them. So far they seem content and quite busy in keeping projects going for their own households. They have made coffee tables, end tables, benches and lots more. I’m so proud of them.
Building tables is what’s happening now. Not just furniture, but proverbial tables.
There is so much to be said these days about “having a seat at the table.” Recently I saw a meme where someone sadly shared that she didn’t have a seat at the table and another woman said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair!” Everyone seems to like this meme but honestly, I hate it! Who wants to bring their own chair (and an uncomfortable one at that!) and squeeze it in where you aren’t even wanted?
Particularly as women and people of color, (I’m not a POC, but I am an ally) we have been so hungry for a seat at the table for so long that we will even grasp for little crumbs falling from the table rather than dining off of the trays everyone else at the table eats from. And then, some who pick up these morsels will publicly say how “grateful they are” for “all they get to do.” Which is nothing in comparison to those with the real seats! (Sigh.)
Then others at the table say, “We have one new person at the table who doesn’t look like us! Halleluiah! What progress we have made!”
One of the most frustrating things is dealing with pseudo-progress and all the hoopla about it. Hoopla about pseudo-progress really does hinder things because it makes people mistakenly think we are already moving forward, thereby delaying us from actually doing that, because we just keep things as they are. (I’m going to stop sighing or I might hyperventilate. LOL) But seriously, regarding representation of women, the new rule of thumb for organizations is that you have not reached diversity until you are at 30%. (Look up the 30 Percent Club, The 30 Percent Coalition, The 30 x 30 Initiative, etc. You will find a treasure trove of data.) So the point is, if you are not at 30% (at least!) as an organization, stop celebrating anything about diversity and get back to work on it.
I longed for a seat at the table for so long myself. And then I just got sick of waiting and decided, like my boys, to build a table.
You are never going to see me lugging around a folding chair or eating crumbs from the floor. But you will see me building a table, and inviting other people to it. Intentionally making space for people is one of the most important things we can do as leaders.
I believe entrepreneurship is the wave of the future. I know most would say it’s the wave now. And I agree. It’s huge. But I see a wave coming that is a hundred times greater than what we have now.
There are a few reasons I believe this is the case. Today I’m going to mention just THREE, but they are a BIG three among many.
First, people want to live authentically.
For many, they can’t be who they genuinely are at the table they currently sit at, or the table they long to be invited to. They would have to trade who they really are to get a seat there. They would have to downplay things that are important to them. Heck, they wouldn’t even be able to share how they really feel about current events without getting the boot or at least a good talking to about what is acceptable to share at the table, or even what is acceptable to believe! And people are sick and tired of that. We have come to a point, I believe, where people see how fruitless and even ungodly that sacrifice is. People need to have the freedom to be who God made them to be. It is exhausting to be one person at the office and one person at home.
I personally know a young lady who would have had to forfeit working at the ministry where she served if she danced at her own wedding! So, she waited to resign until the week before the wedding and then went on to the next chapter of her life and a new ministry where she didn’t have to become someone or something she was not in order to fulfill her calling.
Second, people want freedom.
We live in the age of working from home. People today value freedom over almost anything.
It is a proven fact that the number of people primarily working from home tripled between 2019 and 2021. People are tired of missing out on the important things in life like being at events in their children’s lives. This is not only the case in the secular world but in the church or the ministry. Many individuals are simply not willing to make this trade-off, and fortunately, the solutions to this problem are no longer as limited. These days you don’t have to quit working altogether to put your family first, or to prioritize your spiritual, physical or emotional health.
The world has shifted. Research shows remote work is here to stay. Workplaces that have not made the shift in some regard (at least to a hybrid) are living an antiquated reality. A friend of mine and her husband own a mid-size company with absolutely no employees working from home, partly by necessity. Most of the jobs for their company are ones that have to be done in-house because although they have research, development, and marketing teams they mostly do manufacturing. She told me that when they interview for new hires, and they inform candidates that there are no work-from-home jobs at their company, many of the candidates respond, “I would need at least 15K more a year, to agree to work on-site rather than home.” So, they have increased their salaries by 15K as far as what they expect to spend on new hires. The new trend is that while bosses can demand employees work on-site, it will cost them more.
Third, people want to sit at the table before it’s almost time to die.
Boomers are holding on to many of the seats at the table. And by the time someone else has an opportunity to get a seat, they’ll be a lot closer to the end of their career/ministry and maybe even their life. This is a PROVEN FACT. Did you know that this is the first time ever in history that five generations are in the workforce at once? It is not your imagination that people are holding onto seats far beyond the season in life when they used to, even in the ministry. This is resulting in an entire generation (Generation X) missing the opportunities the former generation had, to be promoted in the traditional sense that one is promoted. Promotions, in many cases, are going straight from Boomers to Millennials. Misinformed people will tell you, “This is nothing new! It’s always been this way.” Not true. Again, look at the data. Boomers are holding on to the baton for dear life. In fact, in some cases, that baton will have to be taken out of their casket to pass to the next person.
(And this is a big but…I love big buts and I cannot lie!)
You don’t have to be skipped.
Nope, nope, nope, YOU DO NOT.
You also do not have to bring a folding chair.
And you do not have to eat crumbs.
Nope, I’m not suggesting a coup. At all.
It’s called entrepreneurship.
Start something brand new.
Build your own table.
Some might say, “No, Deanna, it’s called patiently waiting on God.”
I’m not saying you shouldn’t wait patiently on God. But some of you are waiting patiently on God for something that may not take place. Honestly…sometimes other people listen to God and sometimes they don’t. (And yes, I know that applies to all of us.)
Others would say, “Promotion comes not from the east or west or the south…but from the Lord.” (Psalm 75:6-7)
True. and what if God has been waiting to promote you in a different way than you thought?
What if you are stuck in a cultural mindset (the one you were raised in) rather than a God-mindset?
Do you know how many executive pastors I know who were offered a position by a lead pastor, and told…”Serve for a few years under me, learn from me, be loyal and faithful to me, and in “x” number of years, I’m turning the church over to you…” And five years, ten years, or more go by and the pastor has absolutely no intentions of stepping down. He led the staff member on, and used them, never really intending to pass the baton, at least not in a timely fashion. Meanwhile, that exec pastor serves his or her heart out (let’s be real, 99% of the time, it’s a man) and he waits……for nothing. I know literally hundreds of people personally this has happened to.
What if he was never even meant to wait there?
For some people this works out, but for many more…it doesn’t.
There are those of you who are waiting to have a chance to do what might not even be your calling but what you mistakenly thought it was because it was all you knew. It was what you were conditioned to believe was the thing to do. Because it was what your foremothers and forefathers did…it was the example they set before you. Maybe you even boasted that you were a third generation this or a fourth generation that. But we are not living in your grandparent’s day or your momma’s or daddy’s day. We are living in the here and now it it looks nothing like what they lived through.
If this post is making you feel even a teeny tiny bit uncomfortable, or curious about the possibilities, open your heart to pray about laying down your folding chair, and your aspiration for a seat at someone else’s table, and pray about building a brand new table.
Some of you have been angry about all of the above and you may have even spoken of flipping tables. What if God wanted you to walk past those tables you’re fantasizing about flipping, in order to build new ones?
Here’s the question:
How can you reach your full potential using the unique giftings God has given you to help others, without going through the traditional pipeline to do it?
There’s a way!
I’m telling you, there IS a way!
It probably won’t look anything like what you’ve seen before. But when you pray about it and you suddenly discover the way that doesn’t involve a folding chair or eating crumbs, get to work on the table!
Are you going to do it perfectly the first time? Of course not. Who of us does anything perfect the first time? My boys are already talking about how they would do their tables differently the next time and one of them is talking about all the things he will do to upgrade the table he just made.
But the thing is, YOU CAN DO THIS.
WE CAN DO THIS.
One more thing — make no mistake that this is not about bitterness or sour grapes. It’s about prayerfully discerning what is not for you, and confidently moving toward what is. It involves peacefully walking away from a land of drought and walking into a land flowing with opportunity.
I’ll be around, if you wanna talk shop . You’ll see me hauling my proverbial lumber, hammer and nails. If you need an encourager as you build, I’m your girl. We’re in this together, friend. I’m cheering for you as you build your table and once you’ve built it, I’ll gladly tell everyone, “My friend has built the most amazing table…have you seen it yet?”