3 8-oz pkgs cream cheese - room temperature
1-1/3 cups sugar
3 Tbs cornstarch
1 Tbs vanilla
2/3 cup heavy cream
Red Velvet Cake
2 Tbs butter - softened
2 Tbs shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1 oz red food coloring (a small bottle)
1 cup + 2 Tbs flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Cream Cheese Icing
8 oz pkg cream cheese - softened
3-1/2 to 4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
Spray two 9” round cake pans generously with PAM. Trace bottoms of pans onto parchment paper, cut out, and place in bottom of pans. Set aside.
For the cheesecake: Cream together cream cheese, sugar, and cornstarch with mixer. Add eggs and vanilla - beating until smooth. Add cream & beat in just until combined - don’t overmix. Pour into one of prepared pans. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour and 15 minutes - watching closely near end of baking time. Cool at room temperature, then place in refrigerator for about 2 hours. Run knife around outer edge, tapping pan to remove cheesecake onto the palm of your hand. Set in refrigerator until cold.
For the cake: Cream butter, shortening, and sugar. Add egg, then mix in cocoa and food coloring. Scrape bowl with a COLORED spatula (as you can see, I used RED so it wouldn’t stain) Add flour and salt, then buttermilk - beating well. Sprinkle baking soda over batter, then pour vinegar and vanilla over the top. You’ll see it foam slightly. Fold into batter until well mixed. Pour batter into the other prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes, or until it tests done. Cool, then remove cake from pan. Using large serrated knife, cut this layer in half when cold.
For the frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter together until fluffy. Add sugar and salt, then cream & vanilla. Continue to beat until smooth and it forms peaks. Set aside.
To assemble cake:
Leadership Is Lonely series: Click | View Series
Leadership is lonely. Anyone who disagrees is likely not a leader.
By definition, a leader is out ahead of his or her team, seeing, experiencing, and learning things before everyone else. On one hand, this causes great excitement and enthusiasm because the opportunity to learn and pioneer is incredibly invigorating. On the other hand, however, the distance between a leader and his or her team is incredibly lonely, even to the point of becoming debilitating.
The more successful a leader becomes, the more extreme the joys and sorrows of leadership become. In extreme cases, the results are akin to being bipolar, with intense mood swings when stress and pressure turn the cracks in our character into fault lines.
For those who are leaders, the question is, what should we do when we find ourselves out ahead of our team? Recently, God has convicted me of sin in my own life and leadership. Specifically, he has graciously revealed to me ways in which I have patterns of sinful response to the feeling of loneliness that accompanies leadership. I am sharing this in hopes of helping other leaders and the people they lead.
For leaders and those who love them and can help them see their own sin, especially their spouse, the following self-assessment statements may prove helpful in diagnosing sinful responses to the loneliness of leadership:
Does this sound familiar? Many leaders, in an effort to appear more spiritual than they are, think these things in their mind and feel them in their heart even if they don’t say them with their mouth. Is there hope? Yes, and we’ll explore that in the next blog post.
What should leaders do when they find themselves out ahead of their team, in over their head, and lonely, tired, frustrated, and bewildered?
I am coming out of a season covered by this exact cloud and, as a result of time in Scripture, prayer, and coaching from an older Christian business leader whom God has used on more than one occasion to speak wisdom into my life, I am finding the following steps to be invaluable to lonely leaders.
There will never be a time when there is not distance between you and those you lead. We find that many of God’s leaders, including Jesus himself, spent much time in lonely places and living lonely lives. Even leaders surrounded by crowds need to accept that leadership is lonely because those crowds usually include fans and foes but few friends. Because leaders build community, oftentimes they find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to having true peers and true community.
Rather than being frustrated because no one understands you, knows your needs, looks out for you, or helps you, use your energy to write down exactly what you need. You are truly the only person who really knows what you need. Personally, I carry a Moleskine with me at all times and make note of things I need in order to be healthier and more productive. This can include anything from a good place to Sabbath, a decent vacation, and the right technology, to staff help, exercise, dietary changes, and so on. Too often leaders do not practice sufficient times of silence and solitude when such times can be invaluable to working on their life rather than staying at the office and continue working in it until they become angry, unhealthy, depressed, and burned out.
Most leaders are doers and pushers. This means our first instinct when an opportunity or an obstacle arises is to do more and push our team to do more. Instead, the first thing we should do is pray. The past few days I have decided to write down the list of things I need to do, people I need to meet with, and situations I need to involve myself in. Rather than picking up the phone, sending an email, or taking action, I have decided to wait twenty-four hours on any non-emergency issue and sincerely and specifically pray for God to go before me to move other people to meet the need or for God to take care of it himself. I have been able to check more than half of the items off my to do list by doing nothing but praying, as God has faithfully revealed himself to care more about my ministry than I do.
Don’t default to other-centered contempt and assume everyone else is stupid, lazy, unspiritual, unloving, selfish, and incompetent (though admittedly some may be). Don’t default to self-centered contempt and assume that you have failed as a leader because you are lonely and wallow in the bottomless pit of introspection and self-condemnation. Instead, prayerfully and patiently wait for your team to catch up. Give them time to see what you see, feel what you feel, and know what you know.
Don’t verbally process your feelings out loud with your team, lash out in anger, or cry out in despair. Instead, use your times of silence and solitude to jot down your thoughts and needs as an act of journaling to God, get your heart lined up with God in prayer, and then lovingly pastor your team by teaching them to see what you see, feel what you feel, and know what you know so that together you can do what you need to do by being who you need to be.
Sometimes, when the previous five steps have been followed, there simply needs to be a sanctified shove to get people focused on their task and faithful to it.
I can assure you from much personal experience that doing this process in reverse does not work in any way or for anyone.