I know this will sound strange, but one of the best things we can do as leaders is to have a regularly scheduled meeting with ourselves. Yes, that’s right, a meeting in our calendar where we’re the only attendee, and in the Subject line of the appointment it reads “Reflection and Planning”.
We all know we need to do this – we need regular moments of quiet time, with no distractions, where we can reflect, look back, look ahead and plan what the next move or moves need to be. Yet so often, actually way too often, we don’t do it?
Because we don’t put it into our calendars. We don’t create a meeting with ourselves.
I know this is another strange thought but the reality is when we write down or type something, in this case, into our calendar, we’re saying it’s important. You see our brains work this way – when we think about something, speak it out loud and then write it down, we’re significantly more likely to remember and then follow through on it.
Now, at the risk of seeming even more strange, I need to say this as well – when we set meetings with ourselves, we need to create and write down an agenda. It may be a simple, repeatable agenda but, like all other meetings, a thoughtful, intentional agenda leads to a meaningful, productive meeting, even with ourself.
So the next question is – how often should we meet with ourselves and what do we talk about? We should meet every day, even if it’s for just a few minutes. And we should answer questions like those below. I have a rhythm of meetings I try to stick too – they follow the same pattern as our organizational meeting rhythm –
Meeting and Agenda (questions to answer):
Daily (10 min):
- What’s the most important thing I can do today?
- When will I do it?
Weekly (15 min):
- What’s the 3 most important priorities I need to accomplish this week?
- Do I have time in my calendar blocked out to do them?
Monthly (30 min):
- What are my top 3 to 5 priorities for the month?
- Do I have time in my calendar blocked out to do them?
Quarterly (30 min):
- What are my top 3 to 5 priorities for the quarter?
Annual (2 hours):
- What are my 5 to 7 goals for the year?
- Is my life aligned with my purpose, values and dreams?
- What’s my unifying theme for the year?
So here’s the challenge – starting next week, try meeting daily with yourself. Put these meetings into your calendar and simply ask the questions above. See if you don’t become more focused, more effective and less stressed than you’ve ever been.
Where do you turn when the day runs off the tracks, the meeting you’ve prepared so hard for goes badly, or you’re in the middle of that part of your job you dislike the most? What do you do when you’re fatigued, worn thin, burned out with your work, with your life? How do you get back that energy you used to have, the joy that filled your work, the motivation to fight through any obstacle?
There’s really only one place to turn, one thing you need – to know, believe and wrap your whole being around your purpose. Your purpose answers the question – why am I here? It’s the reason you do your job, the reminder of the impact you have, the difference you and your work make, and the outcomes you strive so hard for. It’s the reason behind what you do and why you do it.
If you keep your purpose at the forefront of your mind, it provides the energy, joy and motivation to keep at your work, to fight through the challenges and boredom. Once you lose your sense of purpose or worse, you work and live outside the scope of your purpose, your energy, joy and motivation will soon slip away.
So what exactly is purpose? It’s the goals you have, but it’s more than numbers or accomplishments. It’s the direction you want to go, but it’s beyond your destination. Purpose goes deeper, wider and higher. Purpose is the ultimate end you are seeking for your work, for you self, and for those you wish to impact. It’s who God’s called you to be and the good work He’s prepared for you to do.
So how do you discover your purpose? You discover it when you clearly understand your highest values, acknowledge your gifts, abilities and life experiences, and know the opportunities you have to make a difference in the lives of others and in the world. The confluence of knowing yourself and the world you live in is where you discover your purpose.
So over the next few posts we’ll take a deeper look at the steps you can take to discover your purpose. My goal is to help you find new inspiration to do your work or, if necessary, find the kind of work that better aligns with your purpose.
No, the letters F.T.K. are not secret code, and yes, they have meaning, serious meaning. As a matter of fact these letters stand for two significant but related purposes.
These two purposes highlight the reason why over 1000 summer and year around SpringHill leaders just ran the sprint we call summer camp. It’s why they worked uncountable hours, at times in uncomfortable weather and conditions, and often enduring heartache and disappointment. It’s also why they experienced the joy of loving, serving, teaching, coaching, and leading nearly 28,000 children and students. F.T.K. moved these leaders to do all they could to assure campers had the best week of their year and the most transformative experience of their life.
F.T.K. is also why 1000’s of supporters, ambassadors, prayer partners, volunteers, churches and families invest in the work SpringHill does every summer.
It’s what drives the SpringHill family, every day, to be more creative in their work, and more effective in serving more kids, families and churches in more places.
F.T.K. is how we ultimately evaluate the work we did this summer. It is SpringHill’s plumb line, it’s what moves us, inspires us, sustains us and brought all of us together this summer.
And it’s why, for the past 18 summers, I’ve devoted my vocational life serving SpringHill’s mission. And yes I know, if you’re not connected to SpringHill, you may not know the multiple meanings of F.T.K..
The words behind F.T.K. are significant yet quite straightforward. And as soon as you read them, you’ll understand why they are the guiding force of our work this summer.
F.T.K. represents both – For the Kids, and – For the Kingdom. Hands down, with no serious rivals, there’s no better cause, no more important work, no better way to spend a summer than serving kids and His Kingdom. Just ask the 1000’s of people who did so this summer and the 10,000’s of kids, families and churches who experienced the fruit of their work.
So when filling out our family’s tournament brackets I always pick the teams with the best defenses. Because, as every serious basketball fan knows, a team’s success in a single game elimination tournament most often hinges on playing great defense.
Which leads to a couple of questions – is defense the reason why teams play in tournaments? Or is defense simply the means, or how a team wins a tournament? The answers are obvious, teams play in tournaments not to play great defense but to win. Winning is why they play, defense is the how.
Unfortunately, unlike basketball, when people think about leadership they too often mix up the how of leadership with the why. It maybe because one of the best “how’s” is servant leadership. Servant leadership is so right, so good, so appealing, that we tend to think of it as the result or the why of leadership, not the how.
But servant leadership is the how, it’s the posture of leadership, it’s the way leadership can and should be done. But it’s not the why; it’s not the result of leadership. Servant leadership is basketball’s equivalent to playing great defense.
So servant leadership isn’t the purpose of leadership; it’s not the answer to the question –why do we lead?
The answer to that question is that we lead so we can multiply, to reproduce. Our why is to grow those we lead so we can grow the impact and effectiveness of teams and organizations we’re entrusted with. We win when our leadership results in multiplication (click here to see more on leaders as multipliers).
So our leadership strategy is servant leadership but our goal is always multiplication. We must never confuse the two.
A close friend of mine was asked to give a talk to business leaders centered on the theme of “thriving not just surviving” and asked if I would share with him some of the things we do at SpringHill to thrive. Below is my answer to my friend’s request.
Like a garden there are four areas of focus that I’m convinced have helped SpringHill not just survive during these rocky economic and industry challenging times but actually thrive.
- People – always assuring people, whether it is staff, partners, or customers, are the organization’s top priority. Why? Because it’s the committed and talented people who make SpringHill a healthy and thriving ministry.
Alignment – having clarity and commitment throughout the organization on the answers to the most important questions an organization faces such as:
- Why do we exist? Mission
- What’s important to us? Core Values
- What do we want to become? Vision
- What do we want to accomplish? Goals, both short and long-term
- What makes us distinct? Brand
- Culture – creating an organizational culture that is positive about the possibilities, respectful of people, appropriately challenging and accountable, and finally celebratory.
- Work – like a garden, creating a thriving organization requires ongoing attention and care of these three elements – the people, alignment and the culture of the organization.
There may be other elements necessary to thrive, but these four have been the center of SpringHill’s healthy growth for many years.43.928283-85.286682
At SpringHill we’ve asked and answered our own version of the reformers’ question. We ask “what is the chief end of SpringHill?’ or more clearly “why do we exist?”
And we answer these questions with our mission – To create life-impacting experiences that enable young people to know and grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.
Our mission explains why God created SpringHill and why God continues to sustain it and give it a bright future.
Another way to understand our mission is to see it as our calling, our vocation. God’s called us to create life-impacting experiences that enable young people to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.
So what exactly does the SpringHill mission mean? Let’s break it apart a bit.
Create life-impacting experiences: SpringHill’s called to create life changing experiences we call the SpringHill Experience (SHX).
Enable: We believe that God transforms lives and not the SHX, so our goal is to create SHX’s which help young people hear, see and experience Jesus in a life transforming way.
Young People: This is who we’re ultimately called to serve, to reach out too, and who we ultimately create life transforming SHX’s for.
To Know and Grow: Our chief end is to introduce Jesus to young people who may not know Him and to help those that do to grow in their relationship with Him.
Relationship with Jesus Christ: Ultimately, if the chief end of a person is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever, than the only way we can fulfill this end is through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
So this is SpringHill’s ultimate purpose, the reason we exist –
to create life-impacting experiences that enable young people to know and grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. When SpringHill fulfills its chief end enables young people to fulfill theirs – to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.43.928283-85.286682
In honor of Independence Day the following is a thought from America’s greatest theologian, Jonathan Edwards.
“No notion of God’s last end in creation of the world is agreeable to reason, which would truly imply any indigence, insufficiency and mutability in God, or any dependence of the Creator on the creature for any part of his perfection or happiness.
Though it be true that God’s glory and happiness…are infinite and cannot be added to, and …(are) perfectly independent of the creature; yet it does not hence follow, nor is it true, that God has no real and proper delight, pleasure, or happiness in any of his acts or communications relative to the creature.
God has respect to himself, as his last and highest end, in this work; because he is worthy in himself to be so, being infinitely the greatest and best of beings. All things else, with regard to worthiness, importance, and excellence, are perfectly as nothing in comparison to him.
All that is ever spoken of in the Scripture as an ultimate end of God’s works is included in that one phrase, the glory of God.”