A common challenge for the Ministry Leaders and Business Executives I coach is how they can learn from their daily encounters and experiences. The art of reflection is often neglected in the push to add another meeting or another appointment to the day.
Yet I am often reminded of the words of my mentor Dr. Bobbie Clinton, “The number one reason leaders fail to finish well is they plateau.” They stop growing.
Here is a simple way to stay in a learning mode which will allow you to make better decisions and relate to the challenges and relationships in your life with wisdom and discernment. You must create the space by hitting the pause button and reflecting on a short period of time. Once a week will not work. Too much is forgotten and goes stale before you can gain from it. Instead install a “startup” and “shut down” rhythm to your day. Here is a suggested pattern I use. It has been refined over the years as I borrow ideas from other leaders.
A PRACTICAL TOOL TO HELP REFINE, STRETCH, and CORRECT YOUR PERSPECTIVE:
The shutdown ritual should be they last commitment in your work day. Set the appointment with yourself in a quiet area. The same technique is very helpful as a recovery and buffer pause to capture key learnings after a messy challenging encounter.
SHUT DOWN APPOINTMENT WITH YOURSELF:
(10 to 30 minutes) at the end of each work day or right after a strategic meeting.
Use a consistent tool to capture your thoughts as you examine your day. Consistent capture tools may be 3×5 cards, a written journal or private document online.
QUESTIONS TO ASSIST YOU IN REFLECTION:
What did I see today about individuals with whom I had interaction?
What did I see today about our culture? (NOTE PLUSES AND MINUSES)
What di I see about myself today?
What do I offer up in thanks to God?
What do I lay before God in confident faith he will provide the way forward?
How do we want people work together differently?
Based on what happened today what 3 things do I need to do tomorrow and what do I change in my daily plan for tomorrow to create space for these actions?
PART OF THE SHUT DOWN RITUAL IS TO RETURN THE GIFT OF THE DAY BACK TO THE ONE WHO GAVE IT TO YOU.
LAST ACTION BEFORE YOU LEAVE YOUR WORK DAY…
HANDS — PALMS DOWN ON DESK.
THANK GOD FOR LETTING YOU STEWARD THE DAY.
TRUST HIM FOR GRACE AND STRENGTH TO BRING FRUIT AND GROWTH FROM TODAY’S WORK FOR HIS GLORY. GIVE THE DAY BACK TO HIM.
Once you have the shutdown routine in your rhythm add a “start up” routine
When you first wake up in the morning turn on to your back and look up. Raise both arms with hands palm up to God.
A sample prayer could be: “Father thank you for the rest during the night and now you are offering me a new day to manage. Today is a (work day, play day, rest day, family day, etc., define the major purpose for this day). You have gifted me with this day. Help me to be a good steward and invest it for eternal reward.”
Caution yourself to not pollute the day. If it is a work day don’t lose focus and waste time tracking your teams online. If it is a rest day do not pollute it with work. You get the idea.
Now begin a “perspective” and “getting current” mini-retreat
Read David Allen’s GTD – Getting Things Done book for an excellent overview of a weekly check in. To his words I would add these ideas. In a period of a storm of major changes you need this mini-retreat once a week. Let me suggest you set aside 1/2 of a day to fast, pray, rest, and look back over the recent days by reviewing your daily shut down notes and review your commitments to see if you have not drifted off course.
If you are not in a storm of change you may be able to do the mini-retreat every 4 to 6 weeks.
The most important person you lead is yourself . Poor decisions are made in a reactive rather than reflective mode. It requires discipline to engage in a time of pausing and reflecting which creates space for your thinking and feeling to get to an inner quiet and hear from God. Those who seek him and his wisdom do grow and develop confidence and contentment in their leadership.
Here is a letter I sent to a close friend after our discussion during a break time at a conference.
Thanks so much for listening to me share about our new assignment we have received from the Father. (I had shared how Pandora and I are called to plant a network of “micro-churches” starting in Market Common at Myrtle Beach. “Micro-churches” are churches of 12-20 people meeting in home, businesses and public places. They gather periodically into one gathering for praise and celebration. See a two page summary on the strategy by CLICKING HERE.)
As always your strength as a networker shone through and you began to look up some good contacts to share with me on your phone who you know would be keen on working and sharing with us.
I appreciated you also sharing how God was leading you to be part of leading a large church. I celebrate with you in God’s assignment! It is such a great gift of God’s grace and mercy to let us play a role in the great work he is doing.
Then you went on to describe being in a gathering of church leaders and how the missional community/house church guys were beating up on the large church leader in the room. You mentioned how they used the “rabbit” and “elephant” illustration found in the missional community literature as a stick to beat up on the large church leader. My heart joins you in grieving this needless fighting.
When will ministry leaders wake up and see that God’s Spirit is creative and loves to use many different ways to reach and make disciples of those far from God. He uses large churches, micro-churches, churches led by men and churches led by women, churches with loud music and churches with very quiet music, churches that use one language and churches with many languages. God loves those who remember the history of the church and those running into the future and building bridges for where they see the culture going.
Jeff, I believe those who engage in defending their format of practicing church are often feeling defensive and threatened deep inside. They lack a certainty they are simply servants carrying out the next assignment the Father has given them. They tear down or devalue the works of others in order to gain an assurance they are okay.
I want to cry out, “Look around — go visit the church in Egypt, Iran or China. Visit the urban poor and the affluent new neighborhood. Go to the islands and then go walk a mountain trail to an isolated village. Visit a refugee camp where new people are arriving daily and families living there are living out a cultural family pattern of a new child every year.” In this kind of world we should celebrate that God can organize disciples of Jesus to work like salt and light in any setting.
There are lost people who the Spirit will convict and draw as they sit among thousands. There will be lost people who will need a friend who comes and eats in their home, respectfully absorbs their life story, and helps them connect God’s good news to the bad news going on in their life.
Comparing, competing or tearing down the work of another of Christ’s servants is not new. See Paul’s attacks described in 2 Corinthians and Philippians to remember there is nothing new in Satan’s deceptive strategy of turning the church to devour one another.
Instead of using our energy and creativity to attack how someone else is doing church let us spend time in giving thanks for them and interceding for their fruitfulness.
Let us practice Roman 14 and 15.
“Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. . . . Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.”
I look forward to taking a walk on the beach together and praying for one another!
A fellow servant, Roy
In fact, the spiritual journey can be understood as the movement from seeing God nowhere, or seeing God only where we expect to see him, to seeing God everywhere, especially where we least expect him.
Discernment is an ever-increasing capacity to “see” or discern the works of God in the midst of the human situation so that we can align ourselves with whatever it is that God is doing.
I do not believe God hides his will and we must discover it. God is working all the time around us and we must be looking to see it.
WHAT HELPS YOU SEE GOD’S HAND?
In January 2017 we settled on the name “Market Common Community Church” for the new work we trust God to do here. In March we found out that we cannot use the trademarked name in our church name. SO — would you take time to read the message below and pray and send me any ideas for a name by May 31? Thanks
Aristides was a Greek philosopher who died around 134 AD. The Roman Emperor, Hadrian, asked Aristides to study the Christians and report on whether they were a threat to the Empire. Read these selections from his research below.
“But the Christians… show kindness to those near them; and whenever they are judges, they judge uprightly…
They do good to their enemies…
If one of them have bondsmen and bonds women or children, through love towards them they persuade them to become Christians, and when they have done so, they call them brethren without distinction. They do not worship strange gods, and they go their way in all modesty and cheerfulness.
Falsehood is not found among them; and they love one another….And he, who has, gives to him who has not, without boasting. And when they see a stranger, they take him into their own homes and rejoice over him as a very brother…
And if they hear that one of their number is imprisoned or afflicted on account of the name of their Messiah, all of them anxiously minister to his necessity…
And if there is any among them that is poor and needy, and they have no spare food, they fast two or three days in order to supply to the needy their lack of food…
Such, O King… is their manner of life… And verily, this is a new people, and there is something divine in the midst of them.”
This describes the kind of church I long to be a part of. As we ask God to establish a church based in the Market Common District of Myrtle Beach, SC this is what I am asking God to raise up.
We found out that we cannot use the name “Market Common” in the name of the church. So help me out. Send me ideas for what you would name a church we are seeking to start? Send your submissions by May 31 to firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks
Aristides, “The Apology of Aristides the Philosopher,” in the The Ante-Nicene Fathers, first series, original supplement to the American edition, vol. 10, ed. Allan Menzies (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965)., 276-78.
This post is in honor of my friend of 39 years who recently had his prayer answered and made it to his home in heaven. I miss him deeply.
It was 1980. I was working two doors down from President McQuilkin directing Financial Aid and helping to begin what would become the Development Department. I was also a part time seminary student. So at the busiest season of the terms I would go home for dinner and then return for an evening of study and catching up on files and work in the office.
It was close to midnight and I was working away on financial aid files and listening to the newest music by Bob Dylan. Slow Train Coming (1979) and Saved (1980) were strong gospel albums that had Dylan booed off the stage at some of his concerts. I loved them!
( I still listen to them weekly as I exercise)
What I did not know at the time was that Robertson had come by the office also. Years later he told me that as he started down the dark hall and heard Dylan booming in the building he was all prepared to speak a word of correction to the custodial help. Instead it was one of his new hires; a young man he was sure loved Jesus. But how could he be listening to that rock and roll racket?
When I saw him stick his head in the doorway I immediately turned the volume down and explained that Bob Dylan was giving a clear testimony in his music. I asked him if he would like to borrow the albums and check it out. He said he would. So the next day I loaned them to him.
About a week later he returned the albums and I will never forget his words. “Well, you can’t read those lyrics and not believe Bob knows the Gospel thoroughly. It is just a shame that when God saved him he didn’t heal his voice.” And then he gave me his classic grin.
Robertson modeled for me a man willing to suspend a judgmental spirit and listen and learn even when what he encountered what was not part of his preferences or culture.
Lord, Help me to do the same.
What are your thoughts?
Do you have a humorous memory with Robertson? Comment below!
Robertson used to joke with me about my passionate interest in leadership. We talked for hours about many leadership subjects. Here is one jewel!
EFFECTIVE LEADERS SEEK SOLUTIONS AND NOT VICTORIES.
Robertson told stories to illustrate his axiom from his days of being president of CIU. Let me paraphrase what he shared. “I wanted the faculty and staff to be engaged and asking good hard questions. I wanted them to research what our position should be on various issues and I designed meetings and created task forces to open doors for their participation.
But there is a downside to all of this investment…. people can develop strong opinions and be passionate about winning for their side of an issue. As president, I saw my role to help us get to a sound solution not get into winning my own victories.”
So — in your marriage, with family and friends and coworkers — what is your goal VICTORIES or SOLUTIONS?
The center of God’s will is often a place of holding 2 truths in tension.
Examples: God is sovereign AND we are accountable for our personal choices. We are call to love with grace AND truth.
The Bible moves us to leading by managing a tension instead of solving a problem.
Examples: Technology is not the tool of the anti-Christ OR the solution to every problem. It is possible to hold a high view of marriage and yet offer a compassionate response to those who have seen marriage die and end in divorce. There will always be cultural and generational differences on the best ways to worship, especially with music and the performing arts.
adapted from LIFE GIVING LEADERSHIP, 2016. (Purchase Here)