Archive for the ‘Shepherding’ Category

I was totally engaged, making furious notes. All in! Ready and willing to contribute, and then it happened.

Everything changed.

I was totally let down and disappointed by this rebellious act of insubordination and willful disobedience. No matter how hard I pushed and pressed, it refused to give what it no longer had. My favorite pen was out of ink.fullsizeoutput_c51

The moment, of course, was quite ironic. I was sitting around the table with other servant leadership practitioners this morning, and we were discussing how to maintain servant leadership during stressful situations. In particular, we were exploring the role of being rested (i.e. having a full charge, managing your reserves) so that we don’t run on empty.

That’s exactly where my (former) favorite pen was at… staling on empty.

So that’s when my pen schooled me.

  • Regain perspective. It took some time for me to recognize that my frustration level was getting high. But, once I recognized it, it became easier to adapt towards the right perspective.
  • Return to the high ground. As I was glaring at my pen, one of the servant leadership masters made the comment “always operate form the high ground.” So I stopped torturing my pen with my fiery gaze and returned to listening for additional wisdom.
  • Exchange places. I started thinking that, at times, I too am just like this pen. Out of “ink” – out of energy, passion, and compassion. I was reminded today that when I no longer have the energy to stand, I need to continue on my knees.
  • Ask for a refill. Many people are willing and ready to refill my empty tank. I also receive strength from God who is always ready to help. I am reminded of “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” (attributed to Jesus as recorded in The Gospel of St. John chapter 15 verse 5)
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  • Simple but not easy
  • Persistence and assistance
  • Practice the fundamentals

I attended my first WI Servant Leader City Tour event on April 25th at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) in downtown Milwaukee, and I was equally impressed with the facility, the presenters, and the participants.

MSOE graciously hosted the event and provided for all necessary comforts including a centrally located room, lunch, and free parking in their visitor lot. I was equally impressed with the students I happen to meet in the hallway. Most of them greeted me cheerfully and made me feel very welcome (one even opening the door for me with a generous smile).

The event started with a 30-minute interactive, story-filled, engaging presentation about the “Nuts & Bolts” of Servant Leadership. This energizing time was followed by three guest community speakers who shared their Servant Leader journey. It was great to hear about their real-life leadership adventures and experience their work-in-progress approach to self-awareness.

The roundtable discussion that followed unearthed three big take aways:

  • Self-awareness is simple but not easy. It’s not unreasonable to think that most leaders understand the value of self-awareness and they can articulate the steps necessary to mature in this area. However, self-awareness is a difficult journey to undertake, one that demands an uncomfortable transparency into the real self.
  • Self-awareness takes persistence and assistance. No one becomes self-aware overnight. Yes, there are growth spurt moments, but generally speaking, it requires practice over time. One also needs a coach (assistance) to help point out some of the blind spots.
  • Self-awareness thrives on practicing the fundamentals. One of people who sat at our table operates at a high level of expertise in his field; however, this person takes a fundamental training course each year as a means to remain grounded. This concept resonates with me deeply. When I played viola professionally in a Music at Popa Rususymphony orchestra, my teacher (read coach) had me practice scales like any entry level musician. Self-awareness fundamentals are no different. Practice humility, transparency, compassion, forgiveness, listening, and patience (not an exhaustive list); and when your self-awareness “sounds a little off”, stop, regroup, and try it again. Yup… practice.

loveJust like military leaders in combat, spiritual leaders must know and accept their mission. This is difficult because we tend to focus on “secondary missions,” which are usually more tangible. Secondary missions are important things like running a business, serving in church, loving your family, or leading a small group. The danger is that secondary missions can become idolatry when not kept in proper relationship to the primary mission: loving God and loving our neighbor. When the mission is properly understood, spiritual leaders give themselves to God in all things – the business, the church, the family, the small group, or any other noble endeavor.

[Reflect on how Joanna, the wife of Chuza, may have understood the mission. What secondary missions could she have had?]

With SwordReflection #3: Spiritual leaders will face opposition.

Scripture tells us that we are at war against “powers and principalities.” So, not only do we constantly face spiritual situations but we are operating in a spiritual war zone. Moses, Elijah, and King David recognized spiritual reality and exercised leadership in their context. Their leadership was intentional, spectacular, and visible. But they are not the only spiritual leaders in the Scripture. Joanna (the wife of Chuza), Joseph of Aremathea, and the Good Samaritan maneuvered well their physical/spiritual context and exercised spiritual leadership in practical ways.

Reflection #2: Every situation has a spiritual reality.

 

As Christians, we understand there is a spiritual realm that surrounds us just like the physical environment we observe with our senses. Spiritual moments go beyond the “God moments” that we encounter while reading the Bible, praying, engaging in spiritual conversations, or attending a small group. Spiritual moments happen in business meetings and breakfast meetings, working in the yard, at the movies, family gatherings, while shopping or reading, on the shop floor, hospital, school, or heath club, during vacations, job interviews, or ball games.

[Challenge: As we acknowledge the spiritual reality, we have to be careful and avoid extremes. If we overemphasize the spiritual reality, it can lead to spiritual illusions; if we ignore the spiritual reality, it can lead to spiritual apathy.]