Sheryl Brady leads a mega church in Dallas and has a large international ministry, but never imagined herself as a leader. Sheryl talks about her unlikely rise into leadership in her early thirties and the struggles it caused her as a mom.

She also talks about struggling with her own faith and having to lead in the midst of a personal crisis, and how to discern what opportunities you should take and which ones you should say no to.

Welcome to Episode 330 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

Plus, in this episode’s What I’m Thinking About Segment, Carey gives his latest thoughts on the COVID-19 crisis and how to respond as leaders.

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Pro Media Fire

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We’ve got a crisis going on in our own lives and in our own culture, but it also happens elsewhere in the world, where even response to a global pandemic, access to healthcare is not nearly as real as it is for most of us. So during the moments of crisis here, we have the benefits of leadership and ministry resources. We can jump on the internet. We have resources that others don’t have. So imagine navigating this in India or Lebanon or South Sudan. Not only would you not have access to the resources in your language, you might not even have a bible that you could use regularly.

We’ve partnered with a ministry called International Cooperating Ministries. They’re a leader in global church development at work, and while we have crises of our own, since 1986, they have been equipping and helping indigenous church leaders around the world. They’re in 100 different countries. They are EFCA accredited, have four stars on Charity Navigator, and for $35 a month, you can equip pastors in a developing nation to respond to crisis and minister effectively. Sometimes one of the best things you can do as a leader is say, “You know what? I’m going to help someone else.”

To help, check them out at


ChurchPulse Weekly – Crisis Toolkit for Churches and Podcast

CNLP 252: Kevin Queen on Winning Over Trust as a New Leader, Successful Succession and the Heart of Revival

The Potter’s House of North Dallas


1. Don’t sacrifice family for the sake of ministry

So many leaders do it. We see time spent serving others as time spent serving God, so we sacrifice the time we spend with our families. If we’re not careful, we can build our careers, our churches, our ministries, our businesses, and not even intentionally, we end up neglecting the ones closest to us. Sheryl knows firsthand the impact of putting ministry over family.

So she started viewing her family as her team. Any decision she made she knew would impact the whole. She says, “To me, there’s something about family. God wanted a family. That’s why the body of Christ exists. And I found out that ultimately, the strength of my ministry has come out of the strength of my family.”

2. Leading when you feel hopeless

In October 2017, Sheryl lost her sister to a long battle with cancer. Seven months later, she lost her mom. She said those losses challenged the core of everything she believed. It was around this time that Sheryl was asked to speak about hope during a worship service at her church. She was afraid of feeling like a phony.

So, how do you offer hope in moments of hopelessness? Sheryl says to be honest. She says, “If you don’t own where you are, you can’t fix where you are.” Being transparent allows us to connect with people right where they are. As leaders, it bridges the gap between us and the people we lead. It allows people to feel comfortable being open and trust to be built.

3. Every open door isn’t necessarily one you should walk through

We’ve all been there—we are looking for opportunities, trying to make sense of situations, and praying God will open the door. But, do you have to walk through every open door? And, how do you know when it’s an open door, or it’s a door you’re trying to pry open?

Sometimes, walking through too many open doors can lead to burn out, at least, that’s what happened with Sheryl. She shares, “And so one door led to another door, to another door, and the next thing I knew, I was saying yes to a whole lot of doors because when you haven’t necessarily had an open door and God gives you one, you just think they’re all God. And you don’t slow down and you don’t discern the doors.”

Sheryl asks God these questions as filters when considering open doors:

  • Do I have anything that’s going to help where I’m going?
  • Is there anything you’ve given me to say?
  • Do I fit this group?
  • Is it going to be a blessing to them and to me?

Quotes from Episode 330

I found out that ultimately, the strength of my ministry has come out of the strength of my family. @sherylbrady Click To Tweet

If we're not careful, we can build our careers, our churches, our ministries, our businesses, we can be so busy pouring into them that, and not even intentionally, we can neglect our home base. @sherylbrady Click To Tweet

I was so busy looking at what I lost that I didn't realize what I had been left with. @sherylbrady Click To Tweet

The absence of my faith in that moment did not equate to the absence of God. @sherylbrady Click To Tweet

I feel like sometimes we can get so consumed with what's next, that we miss what is. @sherylbrady Click To Tweet

Sometimes we need to slow down and realize that home needs you too. @sherylbrady Click To Tweet

The key to scale is quality, team-based decision-making. @lesmckeown Click To Tweet

No matter how much I doubted and no matter how hurt I was and no matter the loss, I knew I loved God and I knew that He was everything to me. @sherylbrady Click To Tweet

I think if you don't own where you are, you can't fix where you are. @sherylbrady Click To Tweet

Pain is not prejudice. @sherylbrady Click To Tweet

When you haven't necessarily had an open door and God gives you one, you just think they're all God. And you don't slow down and you don't discern the doors. @sherylbrady Click To Tweet

Pray a door open, don't pry a door open. @kevinqueen Click To Tweet

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 330

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Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode here.

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The world is experiencing a series of unprecedented challenges, and you’re leading in the midst of it all.

I’ve got a brand new online, on-demand course, called How To Lead Through Crisisthat can help you lead your team, your church and yourself through the massive disruption.

The course is the gift from me and my team to you and leaders everywhere. In light of everything that’s going on, we decided to make it available 100% free.

Inside How To Lead Through Crisis, you’ll learn how to:

  • Cultivate a non-anxious presence that inspires confidence and trust.
  • Care for yourself so the crisis doesn’t break you.
  • Master the art of fast-paced, clear decision making.
  • Gather and interpret the most reliable data that will advance your mission
  • Advance digitally to scale past physical barriers and grow your outreach.
  • Lead your team and congregation remotely

While no one has all the answers in a crisis this big, in the course, I share the mindsets, habits, tools and strategies that I believe will help you lead through crisis to get you and the people you lead to a new (and better) future.

You can enroll and get instant access for you and your team here.

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Next Episode: Gary Thomas

Best-selling author, Gary Thomas, says it took him years to figure out that some people are just plain toxic. They don’t respond to love, to correction or to direction. Gary shares how to walk away from toxic people at work, in your family and in life, and why the traditional Christian response of “just love them more” isn’t really that Christian.

Subscribe for free now so you won’t miss Episode 331.

CNLP 330: Sheryl Brady on How to Lead When You Don’t Have All the Answers, When Your Faith is in Crisis, and How to Decide What Doors to Walk Through and When to Say No

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