When I coach church leaders, too many of them want to start with the compound question, “What’s next and how do I get there?” This is not a bad question, but it’s the wrong first question.
In this current series, I’ve shared two of four powerful leadership questions: “Who am I?” (which concerns your leadership rootedness) and “What do I have to offer?” (which concerns your leadership capacity, or core). If you haven’t addressed these two questions, go back and read (or re-read) those posts. If you know who you are and what you have to offer, it’s time to consider what’s next and how to get there.
As a leader in church, business, family, community or wherever, how do you know what to do next? If your especially spiritual, perhaps God will tell you clearly. In my experience (firsthand as a leader and secondhand by working with other leaders), most direction does not come from God in a direct and unmistakable way. Instead, it comes through a process of prayer, reflection, planning and consideration. In a nutshell, it is a process that starts with assessment of your life.
As a leader, you have to make sure you are growing and finding life first. Too many leaders spend all their energy trying to help others while they themselves are wilting. As the flight attendant says, “In case of an emergency, put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.” When it comes to discerning what is next, you have to first ask what is next for you. Once you are in a place of health and goodness, you can much more accurately discern what is next for those you lead.
When I work with leaders, I use an assessment that considers the leader’s life in eight key areas:
Career I love my work. I feel my talents and skills are well used in my work. I enjoy my work environment and the people with whom I work. I see opportunity for growth and development in my current role. I feel like I have found God’s calling with my vocation.
Hobbies and Recreation I regularly take the time I need to experience play, adventure and leisure. I know what activities renew me and bring me alive and I participate in them regularly. I create plenty of space in my life to relax and enjoy others and myself. I create fun for others and myself.
Money and Finances I have enough money to do the things I want to do and to accomplish the things that are important to me. I manage my money and financial affairs and records well. I am free from worry and anxiety about money. My financial future feels robust and sustainable.
Friendship I have a sufficient number of great friends. My friendships nourish and sustain me. I am a good friend and I make myself available to my friendships. I trust the relationships I have with my friends. I love and make the most of the time I spend with my friends.
Family I am satisfied with the level of contact I have with my family. Nothing feels hidden or withheld in my relationships with family members. I am satisfied with the role I play and the level of contribution I have in my family. I have created the experience of family in my life.
Faith and Spirituality I have a belief system that sustains me no matter what circumstances life throws at me. I am engaged in the unfolding story of my life and approach each day as an adventure. I regularly experience living a life that I love and loving who I am becoming. I am living the life God wants me to live.
Health I approach my health in a proactive way, rather than in crisis management mode. I am satisfied with my level of vitality and well-being. I am conscious of my body and fitness level and take responsibility for my physical well-being. I know what works for me to maintain my health and I consistently do it.
Spouse/Significant Other I am open to creating an intimate loving relationship. I am free from past resentments or blame in the area of intimate relationships. I am willing to risk myself for the sake of intimacy. I create romance in my life.
For each area of your own life, consider the question “Currently, how satisfied am I in this area of life?” Give yourself a score on a scale of 1 (Not Satisfied at All) to 10 (Highly Satisfied).
Now, based on your scores, consider how life is going. Are you living the life you’re called to live? How balanced and satisfied is your life? To help you expand your satisfaction and balance, answer these four questions:
- What area are you most wanting and willing to make a difference with?
- What is the current state of this area in your life?
- What is missing or not working for you in this area?
- What would you like to create in this area?
Back to our original question: What’s next? Based on this simple assessment, what is next in your own life? What’s the first step?