As we approach the end of another year I can’t help but reflect on this past year. It was filled with good times, bad times, positive emotions and negative emotions. I cried and I laughed. I opened up and I shut down. I made some good decisions and I made some bad decisions. I got angry and had a negative attitude and I was filled with joy and had a positive attitude. I also learned a lot this past year about leadership, my relationship with God and the baggage that I still tend to carry.
If you’re like me this can describe almost every year. However every year I like to ask myself if I have grown in my faith, character and leadership in this past year. For me it’s a big yes this year. Probably more than many other years because of the amount of change I experienced at work. Here are some of the lessons I learned or went deeper in understanding.
- God opposed the proud but supports the humble – Every time I allow pride to creep into my life I get knocked down a few notches. This often happens to me when things are going well and I start comparing myself to others. It can happen when I’m meeting with someone that is going through a hardship and I think I can fix it with three simple steps. Or when I don’t think a certain strategy or decision is the best and my way is better. Or if I don’t pay attention to my wife and just do what I want. I keep learning and understanding more deeply to humble myself and in due time the Lord will lift me up, but it’s his decision not mine. I need to remain faithful, work hard and focus on doing what is right and good and submit to God and other people.
- Value your relationships because life can change in an instant – I was reminded through several tragic events that life is precious and things can change very quickly. I was reminded to spend time with the people I love and to work on those relationship by practicing forgiveness, communicating clearly and often and by loving well. The Bible says to love extravagantly and that we are bankrupt without love. Learning to love or how to express love is one of the best things we can do to improve our lives and value the people around us.
- Having the hard conversations is a game changer – Conflict is not fun and many people tend to avoid it. However if you want to grow, make progress, change for the better or have less stress, then you must deal directly with conflict. Learning to admit when your wrong and confronting issues quickly when they come up does not allow things to fester and get infected. I had many hard conversations this past year and most of them ended well and improved the relationship or the situation. Resolving conflict is hard but it leads to relational, emotional and physical health.
- Vulnerability and openness are strengths not weakness – I studied and read a lot about vulnerability, shame and courage this past year. It takes great courage to be vulnerable and be honest, but when you do it, you experience great freedom, creativity and strength. I became more vulnerable in some of my relationships and took some risks by sharing more of me with others. I grew in confidence and courage by facing the junk in my life head on and sharing that with some trusted people in my life. Everyone knows your not perfect so stop trying to be, take off the mask and be real, that’s when things start to change.
- Emotional health is one of the most import things a leader can have – Being healthy emotionally allows you to lead at a high level and take on enormous responsibility. However staying healthy emotionally takes constant work just like staying physically healthy takes constant work. Caring for your soul and understanding your emotions is a sign of maturity and leadership. Sometimes you have to go to a professional counselor in order to break through some of the emotional walls that come up in your life. It’s always worth the time and energy and money to get healthy emotionally.
- When you keep God first and submit to Him other things fall into place – My relationship with God has grown and deepened over the years, but this did not just happen, I had to be intentional. I have found that the more time I spend with God the more I can accomplish, the healthier I am and and the lower my stress tends to be. Having a spiritual rhythm in life is vital. What I mean by rhythm is having a thriving prayer life, feeding on God’s word regularly, being silent and being with God and living a life of worship. That is staying focused on the most important thing in life, your relationship with Jesus Christ. When that is growing the rest of life tends to be healthier as well.
Keep growing in Faith, Character and Leadership.