Did you hear the story of the little boy who fell out of bed? When his mother asked him what happened, he answered, “I don’t know. I guess I stayed too close to where I got in.”
It is easy to do the same with our faith. It is tempting to stay close to where we got in and never move.
Growth is important to every Christian. When a Christian stops growing, help is needed. If you are the same Christian you were a few months ago, be careful. You might need a checkup. Not on your body but on your heart. You don’t need a physical checkup, you need a spiritual checkup.
Growth is especially important in becoming a courageous leader.
Becoming a Courageous Leader – Grow
A few weeks ago, Sara Thomas introduced us to a weekly checkup called TGIF: Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, and Faith. She wrote, “…if all leadership begins with self-leadership, there are things that need to improve.” She continued, “I know the impact reflection has on transformation. If you want growth, stop and reflect.”
She proposed taking time each week to reflect upon four TGIF questions to assist in growing in faith and in developing as courageous leaders:
- What am I TRUSTING?
- For whom or what am I GRATEFUL?
- What is INSPIRING me?
- How am I practicing FAITH?
Today, I want to share my experience with this spiritual habit. It has become a weekly checkup for me.
What am I trusting?
I am trusting the habit of prayer. I have been reflecting upon Paul’s words to the Roman Christians, “Be happy in your hope, stand your ground when you’re in trouble, and devote yourselves to prayer” (Romans 12:12 CEB). I have learned that the only way I can deepen my prayer life is to pray. In fact, I am trusting a shift in my habit. It is a shift from having a prayer life to living a life of prayer.
I have also learned that courageous leaders have a habit of prayer. So, let me offer you some encouragement. If you want to deepen your prayer life, then pray. Trust your relationship with God and pray. Don’t attend a prayer lecture, engage in prayer discussions, or read “how-to” pray books. Each activity is important, but the best way to establish a habit of prayer is to pray.
For whom or what am I grateful?
This week, I am grateful for trusted friends. I am grateful for those so close they not only love me just the way I am, but they give of themselves so I can become who God created me to be. I am grateful for the embodiment of unconditional and unselfish love. I am grateful for the habit of meeting with or connecting with those who can speak truth with such love that I want to be more like Jesus.
It has been my experience that courageous leaders are surrounded with trusted friends who love so deeply they can speak the truth that brings transformation. As leaders, we have the opportunity to model such love. I have learned that without those trusted friends, it is easy to compete with one another, insist on our own way, and quarrel with one another. Courageous leaders, surrounded in love, step into the world to live and lead in such a way that we model the love of Jesus.
What is inspiring me?
This week, the habit of worship is inspiring me. Consider the words from the letter to the Hebrews, “Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other especially as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25 CEB). Because I worship in different churches, with different Christians, at different times, I have learned to celebrate God’s love in every act of worship.
Through my experience of worship, I have learned that courageous leaders are inspired in and through a habit of worship. So often, as leaders, you and I need support and encouragement. We need to be with people who celebrate God’s love in Jesus and who share God’s love as natural as breathing. We need the fellowship of like-hearted people, focused upon Jesus, leading the mission of reaching out and receiving people in God’s love, introducing people to God’s love, practicing God’s love, and engaging the community in God’s love.
How am I practicing faith? I am practicing faith by fixing my eyes on Jesus. My Lenten journey has me engaged in reflecting and sharing the grace I have experienced in and through Jesus and my friends.
This week I have reflected upon Jesus looking at the broken and distorted parts of my life. Instead of judging and condemning me, Jesus knelt in front of me and, from the basin of grace, he scooped a palm full of mercy and washed away my sin. This week I have reflected upon how he has taken up residence in my life and has given me the opportunity to offer the grace I have received. Because he has a forgiving heart, I have a forgiving heart. Because he has forgiven me, I can forgive others.
John, in his Gospel, writes, “If I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash each other’s feet. I did this as an example so that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:14-15).
As courageous leaders, you and I must look beyond the literal reading of that scripture and allow ourselves to be washed by God’s love. Courageous leadership is rooted in the message of God’s mercy. Jesus offers unconditional love so we can offer unconditional love. God’s grace precedes our mistakes, so our grace precedes the mistakes of others. Those of us in the circle of Christ have no doubt of his love. We now have the responsibility of enlarging the circle to include others who should have no doubt of our love.
If you and I are going to be who God created us to be, we need to keep growing in our faith. So, how are you growing in faith? What are you trusting? For whom or what are you grateful? What is inspiring you? How are you practicing faith?
Courageous leaders don’t make the mistake of the little boy. They have habits that help them grow beyond where they started, engage in God’s love, and grow to become who God created them to be. So, let it be!