Tag Archive for: reflection

How are you doing this week?  I genuinely want to know. I care about you and your ministry. To say the least, you have been through a lot over the past eighteen months. I don’t need to rehash all the events, but I do want to commend you on your leadership and to take an inventory of how you are doing. 

Becoming Who God Created You to Be

Over the years I have had some good district superintendents. Those who I considered the best were the superintendents who came alongside me and assisted me in becoming the leader God created me to be. 

So, I’m wondering how I best serve you as your district superintendent.  Some of you know that I ask a lot of questions. Most of my questions are either out of curiosity or for clarity. I can honestly say that with each question, I am seeking ways to assist you in becoming the best leader you can be.   

Reflecting on Ministry

With that in mind, I am curious about how you are doing in this season of your ministry. You have just lived through a time like no other time in history. There have been concerns over what is coming next, grief over what once was, and anxiety about what to do now. You have learned new ways of doing some things and better ways to do others.

So, I have some questions, mostly out of curiosity, to help take an honest look at what you have accomplished so you might step into your next season of ministry with courage and effectiveness. 

Let’s consider the impact you have had on the people entrusted to your care.  Whether family, friends, neighbors, church members, or colleagues, let’s look at how you have made a difference in their lives. 

1. Reflect upon some things you have accomplished over the past eighteen months. 

Be honest and generous with yourself. What challenges did you have to overcome? What did you learn that can be useful now or be used in the future?    

It is okay to feel good about it. Be kind to yourself and take notice of some of the small things you have accomplished. 

Did you learn to cook something you haven’t cooked before, start a new exercise routine, or pick up a new hobby? Maybe it was keeping your children fed and clothed as you navigated the chaos of becoming an at-home teacher. Or, may it was when you set boundaries, either with work or in your personal life, you accomplished something significant.   

Get one or two of those accomplishments in mind. 

Now breathe deeply and whisper this prayer, “O God, thank you for giving me the strength and courage to endure through difficult and uncertain times. Amen.” 

2. Reflect upon times you shared or experienced love over the past eighteen months. 

When were you vulnerable and empathetic? 

Where did you take people seriously when you felt it was difficult to do? 

When did you listen to and make a place for people with whom you disagreed? 

Whether it was with family, friends, church members, or strangers, where did you provide a caring and safe place for people to become who God had created them to be? 

 Get one or two of those people or moments in your mind. Now breathe deeply and whisper this prayer, 

“O God, thank you for loving people through me, and thank you for loving me through those same people. Amen”  

3. Reflect upon times when you experienced joy. 

What made you stop to remember God’s goodness and to give God thanks? 

What was taking place when you realized your interaction with people was a response of gratitude for God’s grace? 

When did you feel at one with God and the people around you?  

Think about a time when you laughed so hard you cried, a time you were amazed by God’s presence, and/or a moment you keep close. Get one or two of those people or moments in your mind.  

Now breathe deeply and whisper this prayer,

“O God, thank you for the deep joy you have planted in my heart. Help me be so joyful that the people around me experience your joy in and through me. Amen.”  

4. Reflect upon the moments you gave someone the benefit of your doubt. 

How did you show God’s love and kindness to people whether they deserved it or not? When did you say to yourself, “I know he is doing the best he can?” Or “How can I help her take the next step?”  

Get one or two of those people or moments in your mind. Now breathe deeply and whisper this prayer, 

“O God, thank you for caring for people in and through me. Help me to be open to receive your kindness and goodness through them.  Amen.” 

5. Reflect upon the situations where you experienced courage. 

What risks did you take? When did you have to be vulnerable? What empowered you to make decisions and lead through difficult situations? Who were the people that came alongside you to encourage you?  

Get one or two of those people or moments in your mind. Now breathe deeply and whisper this prayer, 

“O God, thank you for giving me the strengths and skills to lead with courage. By your grace, give me the courage to assist others to live and lead courageously. Amen.”  

You’re Doing Great!

As a leader, you have accomplished more than you have given yourself credit for accomplishing. You have been gifted to lead at this time in history. People are looking to you to be the leader they can trust, a leader of compassion, a leader who is stable, and a leader who offers genuine hope. 

At the moment, we are in the middle of a mess. But because you have taken the time to reflect upon what God has done in and through you, you are more able to step up and out to lead with courage and grace. You have been created and gifted to lead at this time in history. So, how are you doing? 

Your Next Step

This week, call, text, email a trusted friend or colleague, and tell them something you have accomplished over the past eighteen months. Give them the opportunity to celebrate with you. At your best, you cannot be who God created you to be alone.  Remember, it is okay to feel good, so celebrate.

If you don’t have someone with whom you feel comfortable sharing, then call, text, or email me.  It would be my pleasure to celebrate your accomplishments. 

I am grateful for you and your leadership. You have accomplished much. Now is the time to stop and catch your breath before stepping back into the mess.  

Just remember, who you are is how you lead. Stay focused upon the God who has gifted you. Continue to be who God has created you to be. You have already made a significant difference. Just imagine what God will do in and through your leadership today and tomorrow. 

A Prayer for You

O God, thank you for my friends and colleagues. Thank you for the ways you have enriched my life in and through them.  By your grace, embrace them through me so we can be the leaders you need us to be at this time in history. I offer them to you in the name of Jesus. Amen 

Final Reminder

This week, check out LeaderCast. Sara Thomas and I are discussing what to do when you are living in times of uncertainty. Sometimes uncertainty looks like doubt. At other times, it looks like the need to learn a new skill. And still, at other times, it is wrapped up in decision fatigue or endless options that overwhelm you. Tune in and listen to Episode 190: What to Do When You Don’t Know What To Do. To become a regular LeaderCast listener, subscribe and receive a new episode each week as well as catch up on past Episodes. LeaderCast is one resource you will want to have as you navigate the leadership challenges of 2021. 

There is a one in seven chance that you’re reading this on Friday. Why then, am I writing about TGIF? If you think it’s about Friday being a “day off” or the importance of Sabbath, no, that’s not it. It’s not about the TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s Friday!) most of us know.

It’s about asking different questions. This is about being intentional with living and leading. And, it’s about what a weekly ritual is teaching me.

Life moves at a crazy, quick pace. As a result, I found myself, at times, going through the motions and not always being intentional, grateful, or consistent in reflecting on my life, leadership, and ministry.

TGIF is more than thank goodness it's friday. It's a weekly practice of reflecting on where God is moving in the midst of trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith. Read the questions at the link above. #church #faith #jesus #tgif #transformingmission Transforming MissionThe Ongoing Work of Transformation

Colleagues and friends would ask me questions, on occasion, that moved me to a new place. But, if all leadership begins with self-leadership, there were things that needed to improve. In short, I was seeking the ongoing work of transformation. I also know all too well the impact reflection has on transformation. If you want growth, stop and reflect.

Somewhere in 2018, I read about a TGIF practice. I wish I could put my fingers on where it came from. All I remembered is it didn’t actually stand for Thank Goodness It’s Friday. TGIF stood for four different words. Here’s how I’ve chosen to represent TGIF: trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith.

Then, I put those four words into four questions I’m answering every Friday (or Saturday, Sunday, or Monday…more on that in a minute). Here are the four questions:

Four Questions

❶ What am I TRUSTING?
❷ For whom or what am I GRATEFUL?
❸ What is INSPIRING me?
❹ How am I practicing FAITH?

I’m only five weeks into fifty-two weeks of TGIF. Here are the lessons I am learning.

Five Lessons I’m Learning from TGIF

Lesson 1: Practice Doesn’t Necessitate Perfection

I’ve completed TGIF five times and only two actually happened on a Friday. There are times I can beat myself up for missing a routine, ritual, or daily practice. This time, I’m trying to remind myself practice doesn’t need to be perfect. Sometimes late is better than never. This isn’t a tax deadline, after all. It doesn’t matter when I do it. I can’t fail at a ritual I created and started on my own!

Your turn: What expectations do you place on yourself? Are the expectations realistic?

Lesson 2: Be Surprised By the Past

Sometimes reflection takes you back 20 years. During the first week of TGIF, I learned of the death of one of my grad school professors. While it was almost 20 years since we were last in the same room together, his death reminded me of what he taught me about trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith. He was larger than life and wise beyond comprehension. I’m not sure I would have paused to give God thanks for Peter’s life and legacy if I hadn’t adopted this practice.

Your turn: Who is influencing your life, ministry, and/or leadership?

Lesson 3: Random Weeks v. Theme Weeks

There are weeks in our lives that are filled with a theme. Other weeks are filled with a million random things. Trying to make sense of what I am trusting, grateful for, inspired by, and how I am practicing faith during the “million little things” weeks seem like a leap of faith. Both are ok. Just be aware of what is happening.

Your turn: Are you having a theme week or a random week? Which would you prefer?

Lesson 4: Reflection Multiplies Learning

Over the first five weeks of the new year, I continue to learn more about myself as a leader, a person, a friend, etc. For years, I have a daily practice of reflecting on where God is moving. But, stopping to ask a question of trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith is making me dig a little deeper, reflect a little more, and pay attention to the moments I’m not trusting, feeling grateful, inspired, or faithful. No, I don’t beat myself up, I simply pause and notice that it’s happening. Usually, it points to something else stirring in my soul.

Your turn: When will you pause and reflect on the four questions above?

Lesson 5: Social Media is weird.

You weren’t expecting that one, were you? Me either. I’ve accidentally posted portions of my reflections on Facebook from Instagram two times. (oops!) Each time, I’ve been surprised that people have been curious, commented on needing to pause to reflect, and wanting to embrace this practice. And now you know why I’m posting this here. Sometimes accidents bring lessons that we need to share with others. Social media may be weird, but it can also be helpful if we use it appropriately.

Your turn: What mistakes have you made on social media that surprised you with goodness?

Keep Growing

The greatest gift of the first five weeks of 2019? Pausing to see a thread through my life that calls me and others to deeper self-awareness so I can continue to grow. After all, if I’m going to be who God created me to be, I’m going to need to keep growing.

Wondering what this looks like in practice? You can find last week’s reflection here SaraThomas.net  Here’s last week’s reflection. Or follow me @sara.b.thomas on Instagram for a brief reflection each Friday (or Saturday.)

Perhaps you’ll adopt or adapt this practice to make it your own. Or maybe you have your own self-reflection. Let us know below in the comments!