back to school

I was talking with a friend the other day about life. The question on the table, distilled down, was this: if you aren’t the boss, what are you in charge of?

It’s a question I understand well, given that I consistently find myself in what has been called, “the second chair.” I know everything that our cultures teach us about being leaders, about setting vision, about moving to the top, about being in charge. Even when those in charge talk about everyone being important to the team, there is an implicit bias toward the top.

And yet, I am in the second chair. And I enjoy it.

But I still struggle with the position and vision thing, knowing how to fit. So I told my friend, “Here’s what I know but don’t do often enough.” (Having said that, I knew that I was going to have to write and confess and change.)

Rather than focusing on job change and career paths and who’s in what chair, I need to focus on me.

1. What skills can’t I change? What am I not built to do, no matter what? Be honest. Quit trying to compare. (This takes accountability)

2. What skills am I coasting on? Where am I going for the easy A, the low-hanging fruit? If I can crank out blog posts without even thinking about it, maybe I could be pushing those skills a little harder? (This takes encouragement)

3. What skills can I develop? Has someone said to me, “I wish I could do that” and I’ve not believed that they could be serious? What do I know I could do with a little effort? (This takes mentoring)

I used the word skills. I include attitudes, patterns, habits, methods of cooking, ways of responding in conversation, flossing daily, amount of time feeling obligated to pray in a particular way, frequency of emailing family and friends, number of references to sock puppets in a given conversation, ability to put yourself down, number of times looking for traces of comments about yourself on the social media dashboards, willingness to move from yes/no answers toward answers that actually let someone know what is happening in your heart and head, willingness to be brief.

Nothing new here. You can fill in references to books talking about strengths and self-improvement and all that stuff.

But there is a new calendar page and a new season and the last quarter of the year. So what if we spent this month stopping struggling with one skill expectation we’re not built to do, doing something new with one thing we are great at, and intentionally developing, with the help of a mentor, one skill.

Want to go back to school with me?


4 responses to “back to school

  1. i have *always* struggled with this type of thing
    it sounds great!
    but then when i try to think of a skill
    i come up blank
    not in a self esteem way
    “i’m no good at nuthin”
    but in a thinking hard way
    and coming up with
    there needs to be a web site you can go to
    punch in who you are
    and they tell you what your skills are!

  2. I understand. I’ve been wrestling this morning since I probably ought to do what I say. But why believe a website who doesn’t know me when there are people who tell me/us “you can do that” – write, create, look at things uniquely, laugh, juggle, quilt, love – and we say, “anyone can do this, this isn’t anything special”?

    I seldom believe that people around me have good discernment…when it comes to me.

  3. did Jesus ever wonder if he was any good at what he was doing?

    was it like being a rich family kid?
    where people don’t give you the credit of being good at X
    because mommy and daddy would save you no matter what
    no fear

    did folks think “Well it’s easy for *you*, you’re God’s son!”

    but if thats the case
    wouldnt we all be confident too
    in what we did
    because we’re supposed to be his children as well

    i can’t hold onto the messages i get
    they come into the foreground and then fade out so fast
    i can’t get a grasp on them
    and the inspiration fades

    also i had an eggroll for lunch
    *blink blink*

  4. what first came to mind, though it’s later in his life than you are asking about, is when he shows up in his home town, teaches well, people say, “wow” and then, Mark says, “they took offense at him.” and not much miraculous happened there. (mark 6:1-6 if you are joining us at home).

    so i’m not sure that HE questioned it, but the people around him, lots of them, weren’t nearly as impressed with him as we figure we would be if we saw him.