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.
The 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:
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?
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!