By Shannon Reese
Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established. (Proverbs 16:3)
It was August of 1991.
I was almost eighteen years old. My mom was about to turn forty. To celebrate these significant milestones, we decided to run a marathon together. Crazy right?
Our race of choice: The Avenue of the Giants marathon; a 26.2 mile, out-and-back course through the redwood forest.
We registered for the event and started training. We knew that in the absence of a plan, we’d likely give up before ever making it to the starting line. So, we set smaller goals as stepping stones to achieve our ultimate goal: crossing the finish line together.
It may surprise you to know that making a plan to develop as a marathon runner is similar to making a plan to develop as a leader.
A goal is conceived. Smaller goals are set. Resources are acquired. Obstacles are overcome. And others are invited to be part of the process.
As a leader, what plans are you making to grow and develop in this next season?
Every year, individuals on our church staff, including me, prayerfully complete a progress assessment. It’s a tool we use to self-identify aspects of our character and competency that are in need of focused development. Tools like this are priceless, especially for leaders.
This year, with the Holy Spirit’s help, I realized a few areas that need my attention:
- I want to sabbath well and regularly meditate on God’s Word.
- I want to grow in my compassion and grace toward others.
- I want to grow in my creativity, delegate more, and better equip others.
- I want to lean into hard conversations and learn to manage conflict between team members.
- I want to improve my teaching by creating more time to study and investing more in my closing/next steps.
Rereading this list, I recognize that my personal growth in each of these areas directly influences the people I lead. Maybe even more than me, they are the ones who will reap the benefits of my development.
So, where do I begin?
For each focused area that needs attention/development, I create a plan by answering the following questions:
- What is a measurable goal I can set that will help me develop/grow in this area?
- What next steps can I take to begin moving toward growth?
- What resources are available to help me grow in this area (books, podcasts, people, disciplines)?
- How long will I give focused attention to this goal?
- When I am halfway to my goal what will it look like?
- What obstacles could get in the way of accomplishing this goal? How could I overcome these obstacles?
- Who can help me achieve these goals? How can they help?
How does this look in my daily life?
I might share with a friend or mentor that I have made a plan this month to meditate regularly on God’s Word.
I’ll share a smaller goal I’ve made like “scheduling” my meditation minutes into my daily calendar. I might share a resource I’m using like the Abide Bible meditation app that encourages five minutes of quiet focus on Scripture.
I’ll share some of the obstacles that could get in my way like forgetting to meditate each day. We might talk through this sort of obstacle and what I can do to overcome it (like setting an alarm on my phone to mediate daily).
Then I ask her to follow up, ask me how I’m doing, and keep me accountable to meditating on Scripture regularly.
What about you? What’s your plan to grow?
Consider these questions:
- What motivates you to pursue personal growth and development?
- What areas of your life need focused attention/growth?
- Who can provide encouragement and accountability in this next season as you pursue personal development?