Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Growing in Self Leadership (a devotional)

This devotional comes from Ken Cochrum, the leader of CCC's Global Campus Team. I'm certain that you remember his excellent talk on Launching Movements at STINT briefing. Since the time I first met Ken I've respected his character and his deep walk with the Lord. Ken also writes a great leadership blog, and he's sent some thoughts along for all you stinters:

A few months have passed now since we were together at the STINT briefing. That’s probably been enough time to bump head-on into the culture, your team, your leaders, and maybe even your self.

One of the greatest - and most rewarding - challenges of any servant of Jesus is to grow in conquering the towering mountain of Self. Contemporary culture and media thrive on selling Self-interest, Self-promotion, Self-preservation, and Self-indulgence. But those who lead well have mastered the art of putting others' interests first.

I am now three weeks into my 90-day experiment in overcoming physical and leadership plateaus. I've been examining my ways and listening to the echoes of "self" in what I say and do. My mirror has been a page from a letter written by one of the greatest and most selfless spiritual leaders of all time - the apostle Peter. Here's a guy who hung around with the savior of the universe for 3 years and could easily have claimed titles, pulled rank, or dropped names. But after 30+ years of serving others, he called himself a slave of Jesus Christ.

Here's what grabbed me:
"[Jesus'] divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life
and godliness.... so that through [his great promises] you may
become partakers of the divine nature
, having escaped from the
corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this
very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith
and virtue with knowledge,
and knowledge with self-control,
and self-control with steadfastness,
and steadfastness with godliness,
and godliness with brotherly affection,
and brotherly affection with love.

For if these qualities are yours and increasing, they keep you from being
ineffective or unfruitful.... if you practice these qualities you will never
fail. (2 Peter chapter 1, ESV)

As I have been meditating on this cascading list of character qualities, many observations surface. Two worthy of note are:

1. The value of growing in more knowledge (books, seminars, sermons, professional development stuff) is limited if it does not lead to greater self-control. This is a call to greater self-leadership. It echoes Jesus' words, "If you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."

2. The ultimate goal of all growth and development is brotherly affection and love. Maybe the litmus test of "Am I growing?" is really "Am I loving others more?" This should start showing up in my life.

What about results? A new physical regimen should result in some noticeable changes in body shape and overall well-being. Check. Spiritual growth should also result in some noticeable fruit in how others experience me. Yesterday someone thanked me for exhibiting a specific quality I had been trusting God to grow in from the list above. I'll take that as progress.

How are you growing in self-leadership? Check out this practical article by Bill Hybels on The Art of Self-Leadership.

Friday, October 17, 2008

When the dinger goes off...

This has nothing to do with the title, I just got this picture in a batch of animals dressed up for Halloween and it cracked me up.

My wife Kim and I have a saying for when we feel like we are done with something -"the dinger went off". Its that emotional reaction way down inside that tells me I want to bail out and do something else, that I've hit the wall, that I need a break.

Well, many of you have been gone for 2 months now. From my experience, this is about when a stinter's dinger goes off. For some of you, it's already happened. (The earliest I ever heard was a woman in her first week on location, because she had just got the worst haircut of her life the day before she left the country.)

But Now is a normal time to wake up and wonder "where am I, what have I done?" The adrenalin is gone. Newness has worn off. You've learned stuff about your roommate that scare you. You long for your favorite...food, chair, TV program, ice cream, football games, coffee shop, whatever. You're tired of a hearing/speaking a new language. And for the 90% of you that have been on a summer project of some sort before, this is about the time when you get ready and go back home.

Except you're not going home, and the favorite ____ is not there. Weloome to the stress cycle. Welcome to home sick.

How do you move through this time? here's a few suggestions...(oh, and check your stint playbook..)

As a team, talk about where each one of you are with this. Give it a rating, a number, a letter grade. Call it an animal. Doesn't really matter. Just get it out there objectively.

Remember, this is normal. You are not going crazy. You are not WRONG, BAD, or unfit for STINT.

Don't check out and spend all your time watching all your videos or being on facebook all the time. That can become medication to keep you from really dealing with what you are feeling and opening up your heart to the Lord and others near you...not to mention understanding yourself better.

Take time to pour your heart out to God and your friends. Write the honest thoughts of how you're doing in your journal. Tell your team. Lean on each other. And go somewhere and laugh about all of this together Its okay. So you hate the fact that you haven't had consistent hot running water and you fantasize about hot showers that last 30 minutes and blast all your skin off. That's actually pretty funny stuff.

Some of you may really be spiraling down and feel like you're drowning. Tell the Lord exactly how you feel. And tell your team leader. They want to help you. Team leaders, tell your team about your self. They want to help you too. (And let your coaches in country and in the US know too. We all want to help, but can't if we don't know.)

I can often feel like the dinger is going off, even while in the US. To paraphrase the disciples in the boat with Jesus - "Jesus, uhm, we're about to die here; could you wake up and help us out a bit? Do you not notice or care what is happening?" I find his response kind but firm. "Why so timid, you men of little faith." I'm learning Jesus is teaching me about His constant involvement and protection in my life. And that He is wanting my faith to grow. (Mark 4:36-41)

Oh if your dinger has not gone off, do 2 things. Listen to those in need, and get ready. Your turn will be coming.