Many of us in ministry feel like there is an unrealized call on our lives. I know, at least for me, I have certain things God has put in my heart to do and to be. Most of them have to do with my local context and some have a larger scope. What I have noticed is that there are some poor theology, laziness, and fear of failure that justifies why I am stagnate in my professional development and not living into the larger dream God has put in my life. Instead of just understanding why we are stagnate in living more fully into our calling, we must be proactive and put some effort and energy into our pursuit.
I recently read Seth Godin's new book Poke the Box, which has inspired me to come up with a list of some things I can do to get off the couch and start moving forward, living into the youth worker that, I believe, God has called me to be. Maybe these will be helpful for you too.
Get off the couch: This is pretty straightforward. Sitting around dreaming and thinking and planning is only worth something if you at some point get off the couch and put that plan into motion. Everyone has an idea, everyone has a plan. But it is rare for someone to actually do something with it.
Make a schedule to start: Want to do something that is horrifying? Pretend you are a lawyer and every 6 or 10 minutes jot down in a notebook what you have done. It is scary and sad to realize how much time gets waisted looking at Facebook, updating twitter, getting coffee, going to the bathroom. If this idea is going to come to fruition, then you must actually come up with a plan. Make a schedule of your time and follow it, or all you will have to show for yourself is a cool profile picture.
Don't just start new things, finish them: We love starting new projects. Whatever that project is, during the honeymoon, while we are inspired, while it is exciting and while it brings us life, we are all bout it. Starting projects, series, books, school, writing, any of it, all is great at first. But unless you finish, it is meaningless. The completing of projects is the key to turing your idea into actually something of value. To pull this off, it usually means dividing up a large project into smaller projects. This gives the thrill of starting, with the sense of accomplishment by completing it, and building towards your final goal.
Become project based: Developing an efficient system or model becomes death. Once a system gets in place your only task is to find people to fit in the structure and manage. In Godin's book he calls that the factory model. Ford did this and did this well. But companies like Apple didn't just find a way to make a great computer, they had great projects. And when those projects were done, the closed up shop and started on the next one. This allows you to be dynamic and flexible. This model also allows you to work much more effectively because you are working toward a stated goal that can be completed, evaluated and celebrated.
Take a risk: Godin says that if there is no chance of failing, then it isn't a risk. This isn't a license for stupidity, but a gut check on what we are willing to try. If we have bigger dreams and ideas then being middle management in a bureaucracy, then at some point we are going to have to try something new, take a risk, put yourself out there, and potentially get shot down. But it is only when we take risks will we be able to live into the dreams that God has placed in our hearts.
Get outside feedback: Most people have spent their entire lives getting softball feedback. Our mom's have told us forever how smart and handsome we are and the rest of the world hasn't had the guts to shatter our fragile ego, so they follow suit with nice generic affirmations. You see this tragedy over and over again on American Idol. It wasn't until Simon lays down the law and gave real and honest feedback did those singers have any sort of chance to either develop as an artist or close up shop on that dream. We all need Simon's in our lives, people who will give us honest feedback.
Protecting yourself from criticism is the worst thing you can do. Invite criticism and critique from everyone around you, from your boss, your staff, your volunteers, your students, parents, everyone! If you are worried about their feedback, then you have some motivation to pull it together. Plus many eyes will help you see things you would never see on your own.
Take responsibility for your future: The bottom line is that you have been given a vision by God. Do you get that? The creator of the universe has made you for a specific purpose with a calling that is unique to the history, gifts, and passions that are only yours for a context that is just as unique. What a crime to miss out on that because of our laziness or fear. Let us say no to passivity. We can not wait to get picked, to be discovered. If we are going to be the person that God has called us to be and to do the things that he has called us to do, the we MUST get off the couch and put our ideas into action.
No more blogs for you today. Get after it!