There are a few things that I love to read about. Leadership development, student culture and ministry, and I really enjoy processing my own personal development. I rarely make time for this during the week because my attention is directed in other places. Plus, if all you are doing throughout the week is personal development, it becomes difficult to doing anything about that development. However, I am graciously granted a day off out of my work schedule at the church that I work and have periodically used this day to invest in these activities.
Unfortunately, I have been through a string of “days off” that have been been consumed by other things. As I sit and write this, I can’t remember the last Monday that I have sat down and read something, processed something, and reflected on where I am at in my life, ministry and relationships. And if today has revealed anything to me, it is that I need this kind of development, more regularly.
I’m currently reading through Self-Aware Leader by Terry Linhart that is scheduled to release on March 14th. If you or a young leader you know is looking for a solid read to develop their skills, I can’t recommend this book enough. Terry has had a huge influence in my life and this book is such a needed read for leaders with specific value for young leaders. I have loved reading through this book because so much of the book is addressing current realities in my own leadership and life. Until today, I had failed to open my copy for nearly a month.
Today, at the books recommendation, I took a personality test. The test didn’t reveal anything expressly new, but it did remind me of things that I can be very oblivious to when I am not consistently reminded of some gaps that exist in my personality and leadership. It’s tests and books like these that allow me to see my blindspots; those things in my life that are present and hard to see from the drivers’ seat of my own brain and my view of my life.
These two specific things got me thinking about student pastors and young leaders. People who, like me, that can get so caught up in trying to make something that we forget to be somebody. It is difficult to see blindspots in your life if you never actually take the time to look for them. You can’t see the blindspots of your leadership if you never slow the bus down enough to look in the mirror and get honest about what you see.
One thing that I have become keenly aware of in my recent days is the motivation I have to do things of significance. My friend and mentor Derry Prenkert says, “Who cares if I’m significant. I just want to be a part of something significant.” I have always thought that was a nice, pithy phrase that would probably be something nice to say so people don’t think you’re arrogant, cocky and ambitious (three words that should never describe someone in ministry). Now, to be clear: Derry actually embraces this phrase and doesn’t just say it to be cordial. I have seen him embody this phrase in a ton of different ways in his life. But, recently, I have had dreams and aspirations, ideals and ideas, dreams and visions that are pretty significant in size and scope and if I’m honest, I haven’t had the time to check their source.
When the root of our desires are in the soil of selfishness, significance is rarely the fruit. When the great things that we dream and envision are secure in the soil of surrender, significant things happen and who gets to become significant becomes much less important. I want that to be true of my life and everything that I do in the time that I am granted. But if you’re running so fast that you never take time to evaluate that soil, you’ll start trying to be a branch without being connected to the Vine.
I want to offer five things that I am sure I have learned from others and try to regularly employ that have helped me slow down enough to spot and evaluate my blindspots.
The only reason that I haven’t stopped and focused in on my own journey the last few weeks is because I didn’t protect my schedule and purposely pause my life. In my rhythm, if I don’t put it on my calendar, I will rarely get it done. I can get obsessive about my schedule sometimes, but generally if it isn’t on my schedule, I will forget or I won’t prioritize it. If a purposeful pause is a priority, protecting it will become much easier.
One thing that I have learned in my life is that there are people in my life that have forgotten more than I know. As a matter of fact, there are a vast majority of people in the world that would fit into the category that I just outlined. I guess I just figure that there are people in my circles that have varying knowledge, experience or history that I can benefit from whether they are older than me or just in a different phase or season of life. I should be clear: I don’t just try and meet with people with better resumes than me or who have written stuff or who are “popular.” When I say meet with impressive people, I simply believe that there are people in my circle that I want to learn from, people that I want to talk with and glean from their experience.
I am not the biggest reader in the world. But what I do read, I look for the things that are going to sharpen and refine my thinking. Even when I read Scripture, I find myself seeking to understand what it is that the Scriptures are teaching me about God and the things that He wants me to work on to be more like Christ in my life. When I read what others have written, I’m seeking to implement something new or different in my life. I know a few things with certainty and one that is iron clad: There is much that I do not know or understand. There are two reasons I read books: 1. Because someone has recommended the book to me after reading it, or 2. because I have come into some sort of contact with the author and want to learn something from their experience. If you want to learn from leaders you can’t meet with, read their stuff and learn from their stories.
Believe it or not, I’m not the biggest writer. I’m pretty good at talking, and being an extrovert, I find myself talking more than reading or writing. But something that has been extremely therapeutic is the times that I will sit down and simply flood out my thoughts on a certain experience I have had. I have found that I struggle to sort out my thoughts when they are all jumbled together in my head. This works for some people and it works differently for different people. But personal processing is often so good for me and my experience. Sometimes, journaling allows me to literally see my blindspots on paper. When you journal your journey, you can see a bigger picture and filter out the things that you did not see.
As much as my allergies hate it, I love being outside. Put me on a deck on a spring day, reading a book or writing a post like this and I recharge much faster than if I am cooped up inside. Playing golf, driving with all the windows down, enjoying some live music on a patio somewhere, or sitting near a lake; I just love being outside. But those aren’t the only things that I find to be fun. Talking about ministry, leadership, organizations, watching sports, or playing cards. I mean the list goes on. When I am not regularly engaging in the fun that recharges my life, I lose track of the days and not because of the fun that I’m having. When you find your fun, you are reminded that your life is more than your job, the next project, or being significant. When you find your fun, you are reminded that you are human, and that’s ok.
So what about you? Are the dreams that you have rooted in a soil of self or surrender? Have you even taken the time it takes to see where those dreams are rooted?