Kathi and Michele continue their conversation about business and ministry and what to do when you feel stuck. If you’ve ever found yourself disconnecting from or discouraged in your business or ministry, then this is the episode for you. Learn to push through and find the joy in your ministry and business once again.

In today’s episode, you will know:

  • What things you can do to spark joy again
  • What are the benefits of conferences and masterminds
  • One easy win you can do right now to get out of your slump
  • Why you should invest in yourself with a business coach or other specialist
  • Do your homework – get inspired
  • Whether or not you should let go of something and launch something new or stay the course

Michele and Kathi love their pups! Check out those adorable lovies down below!

Ask yourself this question – the answers will help more than you know. Download and print this printable for your reference.



Kathi with Moose, and Michelle’s dogs, Nika (deceased) and Vesper.

Books mentioned in this episode: 

Profit First  

Atomic Habits

Before We Were Yours 

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Join us for next week’s episode. You won’t want to miss it!

Transcript of this Episode

Read along with the podcast!


Communicator Academy Podcast # 160


When Your Ministry Isn’t Growing: Part Two


<<intro music>>


Kathi – Well, hey friends! Welcome to Communicator Academy, where our heart is to equip and encourage men and women to be the communicators that God has created them to be. Today, I am here with my very practical friend, Michele Cushatt. Hey, Michele.


Michele – Actually, you’re more practical than I am.


Kathi – You think so?


Michele – You are so good at the practical. You really are.


Kathi – Well, I don’t know. Your life is all practical in many ways. You are just getting from morning to night with these three kids.


Michele – By the way, side note. With that introduction, the whole ‘Welcome to Communicator Academy’ introduction. We talk about equipping men and women to become the communicators God has created them to be, but you and I are both working today with our puppy dogs next to us, and I feel like we’re excluding them. So, maybe we need to equip and encourage men, women, and puppies.


Kathi – And puppies! I don’t think we’ve talked about this. You and I did a retreat, Sharing Your Hard Story at The Red House and so we had six writers there who all took turns sharing their hard story. Let’s just be clear: Jake the puggle does not have much use in life except to make me happy.


Michele – And to fragrant the air.


Kathi – Yes. He always wants you to know where he is. I tell people, “The more you pet him, the more comfortable he is, and that may not be of an advantage to you.


Michele – Everything loosens.


Kathi – That’s right. He relaxes.  At The Red House, when somebody is sharing their hard story, he goes over to them and he knows when somebody is in distress. He will often go and sidle up to them. Make sure they know that he is available for petting. So, he is a good communicator.


Michele – That’s true. So, we need to change the introduction to “Welcome to Communicator Academy, where our heart is to equip and encourage men, women, and puppies to be the communicators and comforters God created them to be.”


Kathi – I think, on our show notes, we need to put a picture of each of our puppies.


Michele – I think we do, too. And we need to say that, “Joining us today is Kathi Lipp, Michele Cushatt, Jake the Puggle, and Vesper the Wonder Dog.


Kathi – So, I think we need a picture of Vesper, but we also need a picture of Nika who was your constant companion for most of these Communicator Academy podcasts.


Michele – I have a picture of her right above my computer. Is that too much? She’s here with me right now.


Kathi – Of course you do. I don’t show anybody pictures of my children, but I show pictures of my dog all the time.


Michele – Okay, we need to get to our episode, but I have to say, my daughter turned thirteen today.


Kathi – Happy birthday! Which we’re not allowed to say, right?


Michele – We’re not allowed to say. She informed me this morning that I am not allowed to post any pictures, or comments, or announcements about her on my social media. At all. ‘Cause she’s not comfortable with that.


Kathi – So, we’ll just talk about her on the podcast.


Michele – I should give everybody her email address, her GPS coordinates, all of it, just to make her really uncomfortable. So, I’m not allowed to do anything, so, we’re going to do the podcast.


Kathi – But you can show pictures of Vesper, the puppy.


Michele – I told her, “I don’t want to hear from you, that you see a billion pictures of the doggy, I don’t want to hear you say that I love the doggie more than you, because that is your own fault, little girl.”


Kathi – It may be true. It’s your own fault.


Michele – It’s your own fault. It’s true. Anyway, alright, welcome to our puppy and people podcast.


Kathi – You know what? Today is a great day, because last week we talked about when your business or ministry isn’t growing, and how to get your heart right.  You know, sometimes we want to get our heart right. That’s very important. The next thing is, we have to take action. So, we’re going to talk today, Michele is going to lead us through, how do you take practical action when things aren’t growing? Can I just tell you, it’s so easy to do all the things when everything is growing, and everything’s happy? I know people look at our ministries and say, “Well, it’s easy for you. It’s always gone well for you.”


Michele – If you only knew.


Kathi – We can say, irrefutably, that we’ve both quit several times.


Michele – Several times. I try to tell people this regularly, I’ve been writing since 2006, I think, so thirteen years now. Yes, I have a third book coming out. I’m very thankful, and I don’t take it for granted. But let me tell you, there were about seven or eight years, on my tax return, where I filed a loss for my business. I wasn’t making a dime. I was losing money left and right.  I didn’t start, actually, making somewhat of a living, until just the last few years. So, I just say, not to evoke sympathy, but to let you all know, it is a struggle. It’s an ongoing struggle. Last year I made less than I did the year before. It’s just part of the ebb and flow, but there are some practical things we can do to push our business and ministry forward, when we’re going through a particularly difficult season.


Kathi – So, let’s talk about this first one, which I love. Go to a Conference or Event.


Michele – Give an example of a conference or event that you’ve gone to during a sluggish season and what did it do for you?


Kathi – Well, this is when you and I first met. You and I were both at, and they don’t do it anymore, She Speaks Intensive.


Michele – She Speaks Intensive, the Proverbs 31 speaking event.


Kathi – Yes! So, you were teaching alongside Renee Swope and I went as an attendee. Also, Crystal Paine went as an attendee and we all happened to be in the same group. We got into trouble because we kept sneaking off to meet, the four of us. Crystal, I met with her over coffee and she re-invigorated me. She was exactly what I needed. Then, the four of us, kind of grew out of that as a little group. It helped me so much. I just felt like I was in a slump. I didn’t know what I was doing. It was before I doubled down on Clutter Free Academy. I was just kind of lost in the wilderness. Cheri Gregory was there, too, but she was doing a different track than I was, so I got to meet new people. I got to hang out a little bit with different authors and speakers. It was just what I needed, in the moment, to really carry me forward.  How about you?


Michele – Yeah, definitely. There, for a while, it seemed like I was going to so many conferences, I stopped going for a short time, just because I was “conferenced out”.


Kathi – You can get that way, and you can avoid a lot of work by going to a lot of conferences.


Michele – That’s true. I know a lot of people that never write a book by going to writers’ conferences. Over the last year, I’ve intentionally put a few more event conferences into my schedule. One was The Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I went last year, 2018, and it will happen again in 2020. Boy, it was good to go and just sit. Not to be a presenter. Not to speak. Not to be in charge. Just to go and sit and take notes. Then, another one I went to was The Cue Conference has local events. Have you ever heard of Cue Conference?


Kathi – I haven’t. What is that?


Michele – The Lyons, Gabe and Rebekah Lyons played that. They have an even once a year in Nashville, but they also have local conferences where they do streaming a couple times a year. I went to a local event and just sat and listened to people speak on current hot topics, current conversations around faith and culture and that was another way to re-invigorated me, and get me connected with my community and some of the topics people are talking about.


Kathi – Well, I’ll just pass on my tip to you, because sadly, I’m booked for an event during the Faith and Festival. I know, I’m so brokenhearted. I had, on my calendar, about a month ago, “Get your Airbnb” for the Festival of Faith and Writing, so I pass that on to you.


Michele – Thank you for bequeathing that to me.


Kathi – You and all my favorite people go in together on an Airbnb. I won’t be bitter at all.


Michele – We’ll send you pictures.


Kathi – Yeah, that’ll be awesome.  Number Two: Create a Mastermind. That’s what we did. You and I are part of a Mastermind right now. Masterminds have taken a different turn, haven’t they?


Michele – Yeah, there are a lot of flavors and varieties. Actually, I have people call me and want to pick my brain on Masterminds all the time. Basically a Mastermind is a group of people coming together, in a collaborative environment, there’s not one person that’s teaching everybody else, it’s really a group collaboration, for the point of brainstorming, growing, sharpening their business, their leadership, and hopefully taking that home and expanding their work-life, professional-life, growing in that way.


Kathi – I love it. So, the Mastermind you and I are on right now, with a bunch of other speakers and writers, I think there are six of us altogether. I think most of our stuff is just done by Voxer.


Michele – Yeah, we do a lot over Voxer. We only get together four times a year over video.


Kathi – Right, but you know, when we have a problem or a struggle, or somebody has an event planner who is being extra, we can just get on there and talk it all through. It’s been interesting to see how different our ministries are, but I’m learning from everybody in there. Here’s what I’m learning, Michele, that I think is so interesting, there’s one person in there that I consider one of the most successful people in that group. She asks more questions than anybody else, and I love it.


Michele – Yep. She’s always learning, always hungry, always wanting to ask questions and learn more. That, in and of itself, teaches me and stretches me. I think, just surrounding yourself with other people who have some similarities, but a lot of differences from you, actually infuses your business with new ideas. Fresh ideas, new prospectives that can help get you out of a slump.


Kathi – It is so true. Okay, so we have: Go to Conferences, Create a Mastermind, and I would just say, Create a Mastermind with people who are at your level. Don’t try to be like, “I’m going to write my first book. I’m going to see if Jen Hatmaker wants to be in my Mastermind.” Don’t do that. Find people who are at your level. What you want are people who are looking to be ministers, who are looking for new ways to do ministry, and do that. Okay, Number Three: Brainstorm with a Friend or Colleague.


Michele – So, this is just simple. I wanted to throw something on this list that was a very easy win; something everybody could do. So, you might not be in a position to create or join a Mastermind, but certainly you have a friend that you can sit down over lunch or desserts or whatever, and just brainstorm for an hour. Just sit and have a conversation and brainstorm. Sometimes simply having a conversation with somebody and brainstorming loosens things up and help you get going.


Kathi – Yes, often times, people want to sit down with me to brainstorm their first book, and I’m like, “I am the first place you should start with. You need to find somebody who is closer to you, who knows your story.” Do that with them, and that will reveal great stuff. It’s great if it’s another writer, but sometimes it doesn’t have to be. I could just be somebody who is your advocate, on your same side.  Just say, “Hey! Can we just brainstorm together?” I think that’s an amazing thing to do.


Michele – Totally, and that moves us right on into Number Four, which is: Hire a Consultant or a Coach. I know some of you will be resistant to that, because it will cost money, but there is great value in hiring a personal coach, and executive coach, a consultant, a book coach, a speaking coach, whoever it might be. Somebody. Invest some money into that, so they can come in and help you with your business, or a certain skill, and help you take it to the next level.


Kathi – You know, we’ve got a bunch of people on both of our teams who are specialists. It’s great to connect with you, because you and I both have to be generalists in what we do, in some things. You are a specialist when it comes to business coaching and things like that, and there are some things that I definitely things that I specialize in, but I want to go to a specialist when I’m having an issue and I need to break free, or I need to have a new vision for a certain part of my ministry. So, I might go to Tonya Kubo if I’m trying to do something with social media, to grow that. Or if it’s branding, I’m going to go to Angela Bouma. So, who do we need to see? Finding your specialist, figuring out who they are, when it comes to strategy and strategic-planning, it’s Tiffany Baker or Shantell Brightman. Who do you need to break through? You don’t want somebody who’s just going to say, “Oh, you’re doing a good job. Don’t worry about it.” No, you want somebody who’s going to challenge you and ask you the hard questions.


Michele – Yeah. Absolutely. Without a doubt. For those who hire me as a consultant or a coach, the transformation I have seen in the people that I talk with is significant, which is why I do it. What happens is, when they financially invest in a consultant or coach, they actually listen, pay attention, and put it into practice. That’s really a big part of the secret of it, right? When you are invested, you have skin in the game. It motivates you to do something and to push forward. Without fail, I’ve seen people move forward by leaps and bounds, with even just a couple coaching calls.


Kathi – It’s so true. Number Five!


Michele – Number Five. So, I added this one just a moment ago. Infuse Yourself with Fresh Material. Sometimes we’re in slump, or we’re stuck, because we’ve been doing the same thing. There’s some monotony going on. So, to Infuse Yourself with Fresh Material means: Pick up some books on the topic that you want to grow in. Listen to some new podcasts that talk about your particular brand of ministry or business. Listen to YouTube, radio, get online, on Facebook, look at different websites. Basically, add some fresh content. Mix things up. Learn from somebody new. Not all of that has to be a consultant or a coach. It can simply be a new book, or new podcast, or a new program that you’re listening to.


Kathi – My leadership team and I are doing a book study – I mentioned this book before. It’s called Profit First – and so, we’re doing this altogether, we’re doing it on Voxer, and to try to get lean and mean in what we’re doing, and not spend money on things that we don’t need to be spending money on. Funneling the money correctly. Then, I’m listening to a book right now called Atomic Habits that I’m just loving.


Michele – I’ve heard of that one. It’s on my list.


Kathi – It’s so good. You know, it’s so great being an author right now. I buy the audiobook and then, I need the actual book, too. So, they’re selling me the same book over and over and over again.


Michele – I just did that yesterday. I bought the Kindle book of a hard copy I had, because I needed to read in the dark, while my husband sleeps. I’m like, “They just got me!” I just spend thirty bucks on the same book twice.


Kathi – You know, one of my favorite fiction books, Lisa Wingate’s Before We Were Yours. I was listening to it in my car, then, same thing, I wanted to read it at night, so I bought it for Kindle, but I already had hard copy. She just announced yesterday, it’s coming out in paperback. I’m like, “Of course!”  I mean, I might as well be all in and get the Chinese translation, too.


Michele – Totally. And the point is, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been working on a book, or something in my office, and I’m stuck and I’m staring at the same page for hours. I’ll get up and go for a walk, and put in my Audible and listen to a book, and in forty-five minutes of listening to fresh content, it invigorates me. I can come back and get something done. It really does make a difference. If you are in a rut, or struggling, just trying infusing yourself in fresh material.


Kathi – Okay, Number Six!


Michele – Number Six. This one, I want you to speak to, ’cause this is really your specialty. Evaluate Everything You are Currently Doing. So, if you are in a slump, evaluate everything. Put it all down and decide what you need to launch, what you need to let go, and what you should leverage.


Kathi – It’s so interesting. I just had somebody come to me with a business idea that both Roger and I and my two main team members are super-excited about. So, if we’re going to launch this, what are we going to let go? So, we’re in the midst of figuring that out. It has to be a big upside for us to let go of something, but we can’t keep launching. One of the things that we launched a few years ago, and now we’re into the leveraging part, is actually Leverage. We launched it as a speaker conference, but now, we’re trying to figure out “How do we leverage this to make it even more effective?” So, this year, instead of just talking about how to give a great speech on stage, we’re going to be talking about Audio, (podcasts, audiobooks, all that) Visual, (YouTube, Facebook Live, eCourses) and then, Stage. Audio, visual and stage, because we have to adapt to how people are consuming their information these days. I’m so animate about this, my watch just said, “Good job for getting up and moving!” I haven’t moved, I’m just very animated about this.  You have to figure out, and we do this every September, as we’re looking at the next year, what are we going to launch? What new things are we going to do? What are we going to leverage? What are we going to amplify that we’ve already done? What are we going to let go? Many projects are just for a season, and that’s okay.


Michele – There’s nothing wrong with that. Absolutely. Sometimes we get stuck because we’re trying to do all the things and add all the things. So, nothing is really getting our best attention. It’s not going to be successful if we’re scattering too much of ourselves, too many places. So, simply evaluating is such a key part of creating a business that’s lean and mean, not just financially, but even time-wise, energy-wise.


Kathi – Our four resources: Space, time, energy, and money. We have to manage all of those. It’s not just the money. It’s “What do I have space for?”, “What do I have time for?”, “What do I have energy for?”, and “What do I have the money for?”  To balance those resources, and be wise with them, is 100% the game.


Michele – That’s so good. Space, time, energy, and money.


Kathi – I think about it like this: I love Gerber Daisies, which are those crazy looking flowers that are bright colors, but in order to have such an amazing flower, you have to have a strong stem. Space, time, energy, and money. When that is strong…


Michele – Oh, that’s good!


Kathi – Isn’t that good? You get to do all the good crazy, amazing stuff, as long as you’re stem is strong.


Michele – You know, whenever I have Gerber Daisies, I always have one or two out of the bunch that poop over.


Kathi – Right? ‘Cause their stem isn’t strong!


Michele – It doesn’t matter how pretty you are, if you fall over. It doesn’t work!


Kathi – It doesn’t work!


Michele – I’m like, “I want my money back! That’s not worth it!” The same is true for us, too. I love that. We should create, and I shouldn’t say this on the podcast, because we might have to do it, we should create a print-out that has that image, where they can think through, “Space, time, energy, money.”


Kathi – Oh, we have people who will be happy to do that for us. I’ll make sure that Tiffany, super-producer…


Michele – I’d have it in a download where they can do an evaluation of Space, Time, Energy, Money. That daisy, with that whole stem-thing, I think that’s such a great idea.


Kathi – I use that all the time in Clutter Free, because, you’re not just balancing what things cost, but do you have the space? People hold on to things because they want to save money later on. “What if I need this someday?” But you have to balance your space, your time, your energy, and your money.


Michele – What if my stem is bending because I have too many children. What do I do?


Kathi – I can’t help you with that.


Michele – Okay, I’m just kidding. I love all my children.


Kathi – I know you do.


Michele – Even the thirteen year old that said I’m not allowed to talk about her birthday in any public way.


Kathi – Happy birthday to… Sorry. We won’t get in trouble.


Michele – Alright, friend. It’s so much fun hanging out with you. We love talking about the good, and the bad, and the difficult of your ministry and business. I just want to tell you, before we get off here today, we believe in you.  Kathi and I don’t do this just because we enjoy seeing each other’s mugs on the screen as we record. Although, we do a little bit.


Kathi – I was going to say, “We do!”


Michele – We do a little bit. But the truth is that we do it for you. We so believe in you, and so, if you are in a season where you’re struggling right now. Don’t give up.


Kathi – Don’t. Somebody needs to hear that message. I know it. It may not be right now, but somebody needs to hear that message of hope.


Michele – So, just know that we are so in your corner. We believe in you and we are so thankful that you took the time to spend with us today. You’ve been listening to Communicator Academy. I’m Michele Cushatt.


Kathi – And I’m Kathi Lipp.


Michele – You’ve been given the best message in the world. Now, go live it.




*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned items




Meet Your Hosts

Kathi Lipp

Kathi Lipp

Author, Speaker, Communicator Academy Creator and CEO

Communicator Academy founder, Leverage: The Speaker Conference creator and master instructor Kathi Lipp, is a national speaker and author of 17 books including “Clutter Free,” “Overwhelmed,” and “The Husband Project.”

She is a frequent guest on radio and TV, and has been named Focus on the Family radio’s “Best of Broadcast.”

She is the host of the popular podcast “Clutter Free Academy with Kathi Lipp.”

Over the past 10 years, Kathi has helped hundreds of people increase their platform through teaching and coaching. She is a frequent teacher at writer’ s conferences and has helped countless authors and speakers find their audiences.

Kathi’s desire to help fellow speakers and authors avoid the mistakes she made, increase their confidence and be the person God made them to be, inspired her creation of Communicator Academy. Her newest adventure, is The Red House where she offers writer’s retreats and Writers in Residence events. Learn more about the Red House at https:writingattheredhouse.com

Michele Cushatt

Michele Cushatt

Author, Speaker, Mastermind Coach

As an experiened keynote speaker and emcee, Michele Cushatt’s speaking experience includes Women of Faith, Compassion International, and various retreats, conferences and events held across the country. She has also led radio, video and audio recording projects.

She co-hosted with Michael Hyatt on the popular This Is Your Life podcast. In addition, Michele serves as part of the Dynamic Communicators International leadership team, led by best-selling author and sought-after speaker Ken Davis.

Michele coaches multiple large-platform speakers in how to craft and deliver powerful presentations.
Michele authored Undone: A Story of Making Peace with an Unexpected Life with Zondervan Publishers and I Am: A 60-Day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is. Her third book will be launched in Fall of 2019. She launched her first Mastermind group in January 2017 and is currently taking applications for her 2020 Mastermind.

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