As some of you might have seen on my Facebook and Twitter posts, I’ve been away from the office a lot lately. I enjoyed a good vacation seeing friends in Chicago and Boston. Then, I came back to a Iowa for a little while until I headed to Durham, North Carolina for the Foundations of Christian Leadership (FoCL) program at the Leadership Education program at Duke Divinity School.
Truthfully, I’m exhausted from all the travel. Still, the time away has been invaluable. It’s given me a lot of time to reflect on my own ministry and leadership. I admit that this hasn’t been an easy process. At Duke, I received the results of the Six Domains leadership assessment and a personality assessment. When such a mirror is held up to you, it can sometimes show you things you don’t want to know or are tired of knowing. I think it’s both funny and frustrating that my tendency to talk a lot has been named in nearly every assessment done of me since I was in preschool. I’m looking forward to the leadership coaching I will receive as part of the FoCL program that will help me integrate this knowledge in the most productive way possible.
Becoming a quality leader requires that we sometimes get away and gain perspective about ourselves and the setting in which we lead. In a book we read for the FoCL program, Leadership on the Line by Ron Heifitz and Martin Linsky, they mentioned that it’s critical for leaders to “get on the balcony.” In other words, spend some time away from your context to reflect and gain perspective.
This isn’t easy. Jesus demonstrated that. When he went away, he prayed, struggled with demons and the acceptance of his own call. We need to do the same thing, even if the process is unpleasant. Taking this time helps us to connect with our own state of sinfulness in order to emerge more aware of the extravagance of God’s grace in our lives and ministries.
I encourage you to take this time for yourself. Take a hard look at your ministry and your leadership style. You may not always like what you see, but the process will transform you into the leader God made you to be.