Currently, our world is facing two pandemics. The first is a health pandemic. COVID-19 is sweeping across countries and leaving a tragic trail of sickness and fatalities. Even for those who don’t know anyone who has caught the virus, this pandemic is greatly impacting their lives. This virus has changed everything about our day-to-day as we all do our part to stop the spread of the virus. These drastic, but necessary, measures are helping slow the health pandemic, but unfortunately are also causing a second one.
The COVID-19 outbreak is not just impacting people’s physical health, but their emotional health also. It not only causes fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, but it can trigger anxiety, fear, helplessness, and deep sadness. Where many are directly impacted by the health pandemic, everyone is impacted by this emotional pandemic.
The constant communication about COVID-19’s impact on the news and our social media is causing anxiety and fear. Social distancing and shelter-at-home laws are causing loneliness. And the indefinite timestamp on this new normal is leaving many feeling overwhelmed and depressed. From parents who are balancing working from home and homeschooling their kids to employees who have been let go, everyone is feeling this emotional pressure.
Unlike the virus, the existence of emotions isn’t bad. The problem is not that we have moments of anxiety and fear. The problem is when we don’t respond well and the emotions become uncomfortable. It’s when we no longer are in control of our emotions, but they are in control of us.
Much like the virus has the potential to overwhelm our hospital’s capacity if we don’t take steps to flatten the curve, our emotions can overwhelm us if we don’t flatten the emotional curve caused by irrational beliefs. Taking a similar approach to the health pandemic, we must take proactive healthy steps and we must catch the problem early.
No matter what life stage or context I am in…ambition is there. Whether I am playing a sport, working a side-hustle, or leading a church…ambition is there. Whether I sit in my room alone with my thoughts or I am brainstorming in a conference room with others…ambition is there. Whether I am spending a Saturday with my family at home or sitting in an office on Monday-Friday…ambition is there.
Dave Harvey describes ambition as chasing glory (Rescuing Ambition, 20). We all, to some extent, are chasing glory. This is because God has designed us this way and he commends the pursuit of glory (Romans 2:6-8). The question is whose glory are you chasing?
This question has rattled me as a young pastor because despite what may have an outward appearance of working for God’s glory, there are many days my motivation is more focused on making my name great. On my good days, I truly am striving to do great things for God, but on my bad days, I am doing great things for me under the name of God.
Early in ministry, I thought that I had an ambition problem and that I needed to suffocate this inner-drive. But over the last decade, I have come to realize that God loves my ambition…he hates my arrogance. My ambition is a gift from Him. The problem is that I have corrupted this gift by chasing my own glory, not His.
When this light bulb went off, my perspective and prayers changed. God doesn’t want to remove my ambition but redeem it. I don’t need to deny it but direct it.
Over the last decade, directing my ambition towards God and not myself has been an ongoing battle that I have to regularly ask for God’s forgiveness and help. Nearly every day, I ask myself one of the following three questions to assess if my ambition is selfish or Godly.
If you have been in a D-Group before, you know how impactful H.E.A.R. Journal discussion can be. It’s powerful to hear everyone share what God showed them through His Word and see them respond to those insights with steps of obedience. As 3-5 people share their H.E.A.R. Journals each week, the different passages and perspectives highlight the many beautiful facets of God’s Word. When the H.E.A.R. method works, it often creates the most meaningful moments in our D-Group.
But, let’s be honest, we have all been there. You go to share H.E.A.R. Journals and discussion falls flat. One person didn’t do a H.E.A.R. Journal; another person goes off on some rabbit trail about his boss. The third member shares some incredibly detailed breakdown of why the dimensions of the tabernacle are so important and the last guy gives a cop-out application response like, “I just need to trust Jesus.”
Your conversation finishes and there were no sparks, no “AHA” moments, no confession and repentance, and no real steps of obedience. The H.E.A.R. Journal discussion comes and goes and you as the leader are left wondering where the issue is: with the process, with the people, or with you?
Take comfort in that everyone has had the experience above. Here is a simple framework that will help you facilitate better H.E.A.R. Journal discussion.
Your friend has made some decisions that is putting a strain on your friendship. Your spouse continually cuts you down in public and you can feel the bitterness growing. Your child is continuing to act out and you want to get to the heart of the issue. A co-worker or employee is not carrying his weight and you need to have a hard conversation. Whether with a friend, a spouse, a child, or a co-worker, conflict is inevitable.
When dealing with conflict, our approach embodies one of two people: the Truth Teller or the Peacemaker. Often an individual has a tendency towards one of these two, but depending on the day, the person, or the situation, he may change his approach. When healthy, both of these individuals are driven by Godly motivation, but when unhealthy, both of these individuals are driven out of a selfish motivation. One of the most important things we can do as we enter conflict is to inspect our hearts and assure that our motivation is in the right place. Here are two questions that will help.
When I was nine years old, I attended a summer camp called King’ Camp, where I rode horses for the first time. At the end of the week, our counselors took us on a trail ride around the property. After a week of practicing, I rode the trail with as much confidence as Will Smith in his box office hit (or miss), Wild Wild West. This nine-year old’s swagger came to an abrupt halt as I rounded the last corner and the horse saw the barn. Much like a runner who sees the finish line, the horse went into a dead sprint. I immediately went from casually and confidently holding on with one hand to having a death grip on the reins. No matter how loud I yelled “Woah” and pulled back, the horse was full-steam ahead. I had lost control. The joy ride was over and now I was just holding on for dear life.
Our workweek can fill a lot like this. At one point we were in control of our schedule, our to-do list got done, and we had some breathing room, but at some point along the way we lost control of our workweek and it gained control of us. Much like the Somalian pirate in Captain Phillips, our schedule looks at us and says, “I am the captain now.”
As I felt myself losing control of my workweek, I took five simple steps to regain control. These aren’t silver bullets nor are they a magic potion that gives you more hours for your workweek, but they do help you maximize your time. Most of these principles can be applied regardless if you have full control of your schedule or not. If you don’t think you can make the change due to a boss, have a meeting with him/her and ask if you can start doing one of these practices.
If a genie gave you the ability to work 20% faster, could you finally get your business to the next level? If those difficult tasks you had could be resolved with the click of one Staples EASY button, could you finally get your inbox to zero or your to-do list complete? If you could execute tasks quicker and more efficiently could you make the big moves that you have been dreaming about?
The myth about productivity is that if we had more time or if we could work quicker, we could accomplish everything we need to. But what if efficiency is not the most important factor for our productivity?
Consider if I went to go see the Celtics-Lakers game in Boston. It doesn’t matter how fast I drive or how quickly I got to Boston Garden, if the game was actually played in Los Angeles. A quick pace is only as helpful as a clear direction. In our work week, we have to know what our goals are and what responsibilities will contribute the most to accomplishing those goals. This is why productivity is about priority, not pace.
In previous posts, I wrote about what empowerment is and why it is so important in leadership. Even with this clarity, there are barriers that prevent our conviction from being implemented in our ministry/organization. Below are seven barriers that prevent leaders from empowering others to help with projects, programs, processes, and people. Over my decade of ministry, I have allowed each one of these barriers to prevent me from empowering others, thus robbing them of the opportunity to use their gifts and leaving me exhausted.
Empowerment is currently a buzz-word in many church circles. Church leaders know that it’s important, but they don’t know what it is and how to do it. Nonetheless, often the church leader enthusiastically grabs his or her emerging leader and begins to delegate things away and calls it empowerment. The problem is that delegation and empowerment are different and when we don’t understand what empowerment is, we will never hit it. Instead we will mistakingly embrace one of its three imposters which leave church members confused and church leaders disappointed.
WHAT IS EMPOWERMENT?
Think back to the last time you saw a student driver car on the road. If you are like me, you did whatever you could to avoid the fifteen year old that was potentially behind the wheel for the first time. Despite the fear it places in nearby cars, what is happening between the student and the instructor is a great example of empowerment.
Think back on some of the key foundational things you learned in high school. Can you still do long division? Can you remember all the colors in Spanish? Can you recall the scientific method? If you are like me, you went 0 for 3 on that test. This is why the final learning practice, creating a “File It and Find It” system, is so important.
Our mind has a “use it or lose it” quality to it. If we are not regularly acting on what we learn, then it quickly vanishes. This is frustrating because what we can apply can’t keep pace with what we learn. When we read a book with ten great leadership principles, realistically we only are able to apply two or three and forget the other seven. When we read a book that applies more to our future job than our present, we forget the principle before we need it. Unfortunately, many of the leadership principles we need today, we forgot yesterday.
As we look at another learning practice of great leaders, you can see the full list in my overview post as well as links to each practice. Today’s post builds upon the previous practices as it explains the secret to moving from passive to active learning. Passive learning requires minimum interaction like listening, reading, and certain types of writing. Active learning begins when an individual engages with the content and makes it their own. This small shift has huge benefits.