Posts

Last week, I received a call from my doctor’s office.  The voice on the line said, “Mr. Bias, it is time to schedule your next checkup.  May we schedule your appointment today?”  I wanted to say, “No,” but I knew that my regular checkup helped to keep me physically healthy.

Over the years, I have learned the same is true about effective leadership.  I have not always called them checkups, but I have regularly stopped to evaluate or to take an account of my life and actions.  For me, regular checkups are necessary for effective leadership.

At the beginning of the year, 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:

  1. What am I TRUSTING?
  2. For whom or what am I GRATEFUL?
  3. Who or What is INSPIRING me?
  4. How am I practicing FAITH?

So today, I am sharing with you my most recent checkup in regard to becoming a more compassionate leader.

Leadership Checkup Transforming Mission

Trust

What am I Trusting?

I am trusting my listening skills.  Over the past several weeks, I have listened closely to the needs, aspirations, and mission of our local churches.  At the same time, I have listened closely to the strengths, skills, and needs of our clergy.

I am trusting what is emerging.  In the midst of listening, what emerges is not exactly what I have in mind.  I am trusting the new things God is doing.

I am also trusting the shift in my prayer habits.  I continue to make the shift from having a prayer life to living a life of prayer.

Gratitude

For whom or what am I grateful?

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 in their lives. I am grateful that the love I experience in and through them encourages me to be more like Jesus.

Because I am surrounded by friends who embody such love, I am becoming a more compassionate leader.

Inspiration

 

What is inspiring me?

Most recently, the Galatians: Following Jesus Every Day reading plan. It is this habit of reading, reflecting, and responding that helps keep me focused and growing.

This past week, to hear the names of the persons participating in the study lifted in prayer was an awe-inspiring experience.

Faith

How am I practicing faith?

By God’s grace, I am working on being clear about what I think and how I act. I know that might sound strange, but I am trusting that God wants me to live in the real world.  There are times that I find it easy to “interact” with God in seclusion, where I can escape from responsibility.  I find it more difficult to follow God into the office, the community, or into relationships I cannot control.

I am practicing faith by stepping away from a fear of failure.  It is my fear of failure that keeps me from taking risks and keeps me in my comfort zone. I am also practicing my faith by not talking about success, but by stepping into the arena to participate in the possibility of success.

It’s time for A Check-up

It is nothing spectacular. But being a healthy leader allows me the opportunity to see the people around me as God sees them, to understand more who I am becoming in God’s work, and to catch a glimpse of God in and through trust and obedience.

So, how are doing with Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, and Faith?

Church leader, it is time for your next checkup.  Are you willing to participate in it today?

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.

Courageous, faithful leaders are growing leaders. Courageous leaders know when change is needed. Here's a four step check-in process for staying in touch with your growth & development. #tgif #grow #courage #faith #christian #transformingmission Transforming Mission

 

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:

  1. What am I TRUSTING?
  2. For whom or what am I GRATEFUL?
  3. What is INSPIRING me?
  4. How am I practicing FAITH?

T.G.I.F.

Today, I want to share my experience with this spiritual habit.  It has become a weekly checkup for me.

Trusting

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.

Grateful

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.

Inspiration

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.

Faith

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.

Are you growing in your faith? Courageous leaders know when change is needed. Here's a four step check-in process for staying in touch with your growth & development. #tgif #grow #courage #faith #christian #transformingmission Transforming Mission

Courageous Leadership

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!

 

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!