Tag Archives: life change

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?

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Changing names

I’m part of a group of church administrators that get together every couple of months. Today was our meeting day. I picked up my nametag, which, as of 10 days ago, had the wrong location on it. So I picked up another nametag, the one belonging to my friend and predecessor. Together, the two nametags, his and mine, reflect my new ministry reality.

It was a great reminder to me that in this new role there is both continuity and discontinuity. I’m starting new. I get to not save so many papers. I get to not do everything. On one level, I get to reboot. On the other hand, it’s still me. On the other hand, I’m still me.

There are days that we read things like, “today is the first day of the rest of your life” and “today is the last day of your life so far” and we are very inspired to be different. We wish that we could start over. But even if the outer circumstances change, we still go along. Just like the layered nametag, we are still us.

But that doesn’t mean we never change, we never grow. In fact, I’m committed to helping with that process of changing and growing. It’s just that the kind of change that lasts isn’t about changing the location of your office or your home, changing your car or clothing, increasing your readership or your salary.

What matters isn’t changing jobs, it’s changed lives.

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For more reflections on starting a new position:

Make yourself at home
I know you’re busy
– about focusing on relationships
Learning – about learning the culture of a new place
Starting – about the first day on the job
Left turn – about the heading to the new place after eleven years
Dragging people along – about position change in a 2.0 world
Experience – about walking away from the old office
What I learned from waiting backstage – about taking the position

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