A new year, just like a new day, brings us the opportunity to reflect. Reflect on where we’ve been, where we’re going, things learned, and things we long to learn. So it is in that spirit of reflection that I’ve sought to write some of my top lesson from 2016. The list is by no means exhaustive, but each was important.
- Know Your Why. Countless times this year I asked myself why I was doing what I was doing. I paused intentionally to think through the impact of decisions. I asked the Holy Spirit to show me my motives for “yes” or “no” decisions. And honestly, this last year I said “no” to a lot of things. No to a cluttered soul; no to a cluttered house; no to a schedule the did not afford me the time with the most important people in my life; no to striving. I said “yes” to those things that God clearly laid on my heart. Know your why.
- Don’t apologize for who God made you to be. For my women friends, I can’t stress this point enough. God made you; the Holy Spirit entrusted you with gifts so that you might be ministers of reconciliation. As Christians, we are ambassadors of Christ. Steward well that which has been entrusted to you. Let Christ shine through you.
2 Corinthians 5:20 (NASB95) Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
- Serve others well and be intentional about it. Get to know the people whom you lead. Get to know their strengths, their weakness (you’ve got bucket loads of them too!), the way they process information, their stressors, and create ample opportunities for them to bring glory to God by using their gifts. Invest in and appreciate (in a language they understand) those with whom you co-labour. And be authentic, courageously vulnerable, and lead from a place of dependence on Christ and others.
- Embrace mistakes and let them move you forward. In my earlier years, I let failures and mistakes shipwreck and paralyze me (confessions of a high achiever), now I let them shape me. Learn to ask for help; you are a limited resource. Always be humble and teachable.
- Learn to communicate well in person and don’t avoid conflict. Email, text or FB messaging is never, ever the way to deal with hard conversations. As a leader, develop your communication skills. Learn how to have conversations in a way that won’t leave you feeling horrible for the way you handled things. There is nothing that cannot be discussed if it is approached in an appropriate way. As a leader, it is your responsibility to develop yourself in this area. Learn to communicate well!
- Be prepared. I’m still fleshing this lesson out, so you’ll likely be reading (or hearing, depending on how we usually connect) about this topic this year. But here are a few lessons I’ve been learning: be prepared for the meeting, especially if you are the leader; study your Bible so that you are prepared to give an answer; be a praying leader, it prepares you; prepare yourself by leading yourself well.
There it is, some of my top lessons from 2016. Feel free to share some of yours.
Lord, be with us this day,
Within us to purify us;
Above us to draw us up;
Beneath us to sustain us;
Before us to lead us;
Behind us to restrain us;
Around us to protect us.