Begin with the End in Mind
Someone has said, “If you don’t know where you are going, then any road will get you there.” Have you thought about the final seasons of your life when hopefully you will have developed your strengths to the point where you are serving and blessing others in and through them? If that is the ‘end,’ then what road should you be on now that will lead you to that destination?
By way of personal illustration, what I am currently doing is sharing my life messages in the form of coaching leaders individually, teaching others from these life lessons, and helping to lead a leader development process for our US Navigator work. But all of this flows from a decision to focus on my life passion of leadership and developing leaders about 20 years ago.
When home on assignment from Indonesia for six months in 1991, I took some extended time to reflect upon where I sensed the blessing of God on my life and ministry and where I was truly motivated and excited about the topic. This led me to begin to focus on the areas of leadership and developing emerging leaders. After leaving the Collegiate Director role in 2003 I again took some extended time to reflect upon my passions and life messages that I felt a sense of stewardship for before the Lord. This led to a laser focus on three areas: leader development, emerging leaders, and the nations (missions).
In thinking about this path of development over two decades plus now it is clear that the “end” has become more and more focused. The general direction for multiplying my life through spiritual generations of laborers now has resulted in a personal mission statement as follows: I am out to change the world one leader at a time by helping them live and lead like Jesus.
In sharing this I am not suggesting that you imitate my personal journey. I only point this out as an illustration to consider for your own development. Operating and leading from strengths will not just happen with the passing of time. You will have to choose to focus, to say ‘yes’ to some things and ‘no’ to others in order to maximize your strengths. It will be a process, a longer process that you think, to get to a destination of serving others from your passions and strengths.
So, here are some general thoughts for you regarding contributing in your strengths:
1. Develop yourself for contribution, not a role or title or spot on an organizational chart. The latter is thinking too small and limiting what God could desire to do with and through you. Develop your life messages and then let God surprise you as to how He will let you make that contribution. The two roles that I have now in leader development did not exist 10 years ago. Both were created for me as I developed my strength in the message of leadership and developing leaders.
2. Work on your personal mission statement to clarify your contribution. Take some time to stop and think about the end of your journey now, not later. What would you desire? What would ‘turn your crank?’ This could be a great sabbatical exercise. It will clarify what you are aiming for in the future. Why has God made you? For what purpose? What are the life messages He has given you to steward for which you will be held accountable?
3. Determine your primary audience for your contribution. Who is the audience that the Lord seems to connect you with? What age group? Do you have cross-cultural ability or experience? Again to illustrate from my life, I determined that my primary focus was to be emerging leaders under the age of 40. I wanted to help shape them before they made too many choices that led to bad consequences in their leadership careers. This aligned with my life experience as well as my strategic desire to help others before they made major mistakes, rather than afterwards.
4. Finally, you will want to determine your primary delivery platform. What format do you just love to engage others in? Is it one-on-one, small group, or large group? Do you like informal, semi-formal, for formal environments for influencing others? Written or verbal? Is it more “come along and watch me” or “sit down and let’s dialog on this”? Regardless of the delivery platform, there needs to be intentionality for the greatest impact in the lives of others.
Now, it’s time to get out the map and determine your destination. Remember, if you don’t know what you’re aiming for, you’ll hit it every time!