For the last 15 years I’ve been working on living out my life purpose statement of “Growing myself and others in Faith, Character and Leadership.” This has been the driving force for me getting into full time ministry and the reason I get up every morning. I’ve studied, written about and spoken about those three topics a lot over those 15 years. Today I want to share why this is so important to me.
I grew up in a religious, conservative community. We went to church, prayed and talked about the Bible. I got a good dose of that as I grew up and it influenced me greatly. I remember praying together as a family, kneeling at our couch praying for people in our extended family. I remember coming home from High School or seeing my girlfriend and kneeling by my bed and praying before I went to bed.
I remember making a personal commitment to Christ with a friend at his church and then going through a discipleship class with my pastor before being baptized. I remember having to give my testimony in front of the entire church before my baptism, talk about nervous.
As I got older I continued to follow and believe in God, but I also did a lot of my own thing and many things I should not have been doing. I drifted away from God, but never gave up on God. Church became more of an obligation and a social thing for me and I stopped growing spiritually in my mid to late 20’s. I remember being involved in leadership at the church my wife and I attended, trying to lead change, search for a new pastor and then renovate a house for the new pastor. I remember being confused about some of the teaching I was hearing and frustrated with the lack of leadership within the church. I remember having conflict with the pastor and his wife and wondering why do I even try? So when my term was up as Deacon, we stopped going to church.
For over a year we did not go to church and just did whatever we wanted without thinking much about church or religious stuff. The church was not relevant to me, but I still believed in God and had a relationship with Jesus even though it was weak. I was growing as leader in the business community and was getting recognition for that. So that is where I was getting my purpose and meaning and not my identity as a Christian.
Then things changed, God never gave up on me and kept slowly drawing me back to him. It started with people that had a relationship with me inviting me to church. We finally gave in and went and it really jolted us. I remember saying to my wife, are they allowed to do that in church? The music was upbeat and louder than I was used to. They had fun and the message really made sense. We weren’t sure about everything but we decided to come back again.
Then the pastor contacted me and we met for lunch. That led to more lunches and breakfast meetings and then to one-on-one discipleship. I remember meeting with the pastor early before I went to work at the bank. I started volunteering and we got into a group. My wife and I started growing spiritually again and I quickly got involved in leadership. I ended up on the leadership team and was leading a group and involved in other ministry activities.
As I grew in my faith, my character also started growing and I got better as a leader. Then God rocked my world by calling me to be in ministry. I remember the moment at a leadership conference at Willow Creek Church in Chicago. I surrendered every part of my life and clearly heard God telling me to pursue full time ministry.
That pursuit took over two years, lots of prayer, journaling, studying and conversations with mentors and friends. It was during that time of self-discovering, searching and seeking God with my whole heart that I found my purpose statement and wrote a description of the man I want to be. This is what I wrote and this is what drives me to help other people experience what I have experienced in faith, character and leadership. This is why I love to develop, coach, encourage and challenge other people in those areas as well. I believe a lot of people are on a similar journey, looking for purpose and meaning and wanting to make a difference in the world. I want to help people avoid some of the mistakes I made and starting growing.
Growing myself & others in Faith, Character & Leadership:
A man devoted to improving his personal relationship with God through consistent prayer and study. A faithful, loving husband. A leader in the community, the church and the workplace. A man of good character and integrity. A life long learner. A servant to God and others. A loyal, caring friend and confidant. A positive proactive person that is willing to learn and grow. A man concerned about having a heart more like Jesus. A life that reflects the fruits of the spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control. A man above reproach, who is respectable, hospitable, sincere and honest. A good steward of what God has entrusted him. A mentor and a protege. A teacher and a student. An encourager and a builder. A speaker and a writer. Dependent on God Inspired to serve Devoted to glorifying Jesus Christ.
I am not perfect and I still am working on areas of my life that are not good. I still have bad days, make mistakes and bad decisions. But even with all those blemishes in my life I know that I am a child of God that is deeply loved and accepted. It allows me to lead with my heart, love others, forgive people and press on.
A lot has been written about leadership, I’ve read books, articles and listened to speakers. There is not one thing that makes a great leader, each person is a bit different in personality, style, gifting and drive. Some leaders are bold and charismatic while others are quiet and reserved. I’ve seen great leaders with each of those traits. So what’s important to know in leadership? As a young person what can be done to grow as a leader?
Here are some things I’ve learned over the years in my experience leading in the banking/accounting world and also in full time ministry:
Learning to lead is really learning about yourself, knowing your blind spots and barriers. Knowing your core fears, weaknesses and scars. When you raise your level of self-awareness you raise your level of leadership. Then if you can surround yourself with people that will be honest with you and are gifted in areas you are not, incredible synergy can start to happen.
Living an emotionally healthy life is incredibly freeing. Yet it is very difficult to do because we all grow up learning unhealthy behaviors and unhealthy emotions. Think of it like pieces of armor that we put on growing up, defense mechanisms, ways of handling conflict, how to treat other people, what we think about ourselves, others and God.
In order to get healthy here are a six guideposts that can help us all get healthier emotionally and live with freedom and joy. Many of these guideposts come from researcher, author and speaker Brene’ Brown.
Start pursuing an emotionally healthy life by cultivating the good and letting go of the bad.