In one of his lectures on leadership, Prof Hendricks made the statement that most, if not all, leaders are behind in their think time. GUILTY AS CHARGED!
While I publicly endorse the idea, and tell others they should schedule one or two planning days a year, I am doing well if I schedule one every two or three years. If confession is good for the soul, then I have to admit my last planning day was in the fall of 2013. I plan, yes, but I do it in 15 or 30 minute increments, not a full day devoted to it.
I came to the conclusion recently that I allowed myself to get too busy during the past couple of years. I was doing good things—preaching, teaching, managing, committees, activities, visiting, counseling—but I was not leading. I wasn’t putting my feet up and dreaming about the future, asking God what he wanted to do in and through me.
In the past, I learned that for me to take a planning day, I needed to get out of the office and out of my house. If I was in the office, I was caught up in meetings, appointments, and sermon prep. If I was at home, I was still working as well as distracted by house stuff. I did more thinking when I went to a park or a mall and walked and prayed.
On Thursday, I took a planning day and went to Stanley Park in Westfield, MA. I can’t say I did much planning, but I walked and prayed and listened for 2+ hours. At this stage of my life and ministry, I have more questions than answers. So I prayed, asking God for wisdom and direction and then stayed quiet to hear him speak.
- Are there areas where I need to grow?
- Does my marriage need attention? How can I be a better husband? How can I encourage my wife?
- How can I mentor and influence my kids now that they are adults and live a distance away?
- Are there skills I need to develop or sharpen?
- How can I be more fruitful and effective?
- When should I consider retirement?
- How long should I keep going and teaching?
- How does the new law change what/how what we’re doing?
- How can I best help equip the men and women I teach?
- How can I mentor and encourage our staff?
- How can I best prepare and equip Jack for full-time ministry?
- How can I help our elders be more effective and fruitful in shepherding the congregation?
- Who should I be investing in for the future?
- How can I best help and encourage ____________?
- How healthy is the congregation? What books/topics should I consider preaching to help meet their needs and help them grow?
- How can we become more effective and fruitful in outreach and evangelism?
Since my list got longer as the day went on, I best not wait another three years to contemplate and seek the answers.