When our kids were young, they went through several growth spurts. Their physical growth happened naturally, but most growth requires intentionality.
In their early developmental years, they had both Patti and I, their grandparents, and their schoolteachers setting the course of their advancement. Sound familiar?
- What about our adult years?
- Who sets the course of your advancement now?
- It’s up to each of us individually, isn’t it?
One of the true perils of leading church ministry is being so invested in the growth of others that your personal growth goes unattended.
How do you ensure that the busyness of your life and ministry doesn’t take over and inadvertently prevent your intentional pursuit of personal growth?
The principle of putting your oxygen mask on first during an in-flight emergency is critical, but also counterintuitive. You want to take care of your loved one first, but if you don’t take care of you, you can’t help anyone else.
When you consider your continued growth, were are you headed?
How do you know if you get there?
Any growth-oriented content you consume is helpful, but if you have a specific direction, if you have a sense of where you want to go, then selecting content and coaches to support progress in that direction allows your growth to become exponential.
4 Aspirational Pathways to Help You Keep Growing
1. Think bigger.
The pressures and challenges of daily life often create lids to our thinking. The energy expended to solve problems leaves little margin for imagining something larger and better that status quo. How can you break out of that trap?
First, understand that the people around you and especially those closest to you set the bar for how big you think, so make wise choices about your inner circle.
Who is in your inner circle? How do they shape your thinking? Do they leave you dreaming or drained?
After you work through the question of who you closely associate with, are you visiting organizations larger than yours and learning from them?
It is a good idea to see and experience organizations and their various environments, especially churches larger than yours. Size alone doesn’t mean those organizations are better, but it does mean they have traveled further in their leadership journey and have practiced bigger thinking.
Every time I step into an environment larger than where I lead, I see what is possible and it immediately causes me to think bigger.
How you think determines how you live. In fact, you naturally move in the direction of your most dominant thoughts.
Do your best to think biblically, values-based, hope-filled, other-oriented, and set your sites on a purpose bigger than you.
Where are you thinking too small?
Take time to be quiet, think, pray, and write your thoughts for clarity.
2. Stretch further.
When margin is low and pressure is high it’s easier to pull back rather than stretch your leadership. It’s tempting to hold steady when we should risk. We never grow during the status quo, it’s only in the stretch.
- If you believe God is with you, and you fervently pray, what keeps you from stretching toward larger leadership?
- What is holding you back?
- What do you need to let go of to take hold of the new?
We are all tempted to live and lead inside the framework we know rather than to venture beyond what we know. That’s where we are comfortable and feel more in control, but growth is experienced outside our comfort zone.
Experiment, take a risk, try something new. If you’re not ready to “bet the farm” that’s OK, but try something. Maybe a new experience with your family, an innovative idea at work, or a stretch goal for you personally.
If you only pick the fruit you can reach from standing on the ground, you will miss some of the best fruit. You may need a ladder so you can reach it. What ladder do you need? Get it.
3. Connect deeper.
God designed the body of Christ to be in authentic relationship. This means being consistently connected to people who know and love the real you as you pursue Jesus together. This is especially important for leaders.
There is something powerful about deep human connection. When the truth of our lives is fully known, we open the door to healthy freedom.
In contrast, self-protection, image management, and controlling behavior lead to an unhealthy lack of intimacy and we can lose self-awareness because we have no human benchmarks.
Where does a deeper connection start?
It begins with honest conversation in a group of like-minded peers and or friends. Don’t make it complicated. You can gather, for example, 3-5 trusted people and meet regularly. It’s not a counseling group, but you do offer and receive wise counsel. It’s a small group committed to friendship, biblical truth, honest conversation, and growth. (And having fun.) This is not meant to be drudgery, done right, it is truly life-giving.
Who in your life knows everything about you?
4. Follow closer.
“Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.” Matthew 26:57-58
That verse, “Peter followed him at a distance . . . “ has always haunted me.
Jesus, where might I be doing the same thing?
As a Christian leader, to follow Jesus closer is less of an aspiration and more of an essential, but it’s an essential we can aspire to. It’s an invitation that we are wise to say yes to.
Whether you have been walking with Jesus for a relatively short time or you’ve been a follower for decades, we all have room to grow closer.
Following Jesus is core to our lives. We know the “basics” including things such as worship, prayer, serving, and obedience. However, it is not about works, it’s the gift of a relationship to be savored and enjoyed.
It is this continually growing relationship that allows soul-level change and transformation to take place, which helps take your leadership to another level.
Following Jesus more closely is the pathway that allows all areas of our growth to make progress, especially as a leader.
Following Jesus is the path to awakening spiritual authority through servanthood. Serving others engages the power of the Holy Spirit in our life and leadership. While Jesus does expect us to do our part, this also allows Him to do what only He can do.
In what one way, over the next 3 months, might you grow closer to Jesus?
This article originally appeared on DanReiland.com and is reposted here by permission.