Got a question: What is the least understood, too easily overlooked, yet most important thing about you?
Answer: Your soul.
This summer, along with a Zoom-full of Rock Solid grads, I took a five-week deep dive of discovery. I wanted to more fully understand the centrality of the soul in the life of a leader.
It was good.
Check that. It was life-changing.
While it would take pages to upload adequately the trek we took, I’d like to share a few things curated along the way.
I could go on. But let me stop and leave you with a challenge:
Believing that your soul is the most important thing about you,
what will you do today to cultivate and care for it?
Reflect on it. Write it down. Get a game plan in place on how you are going to intentionally be the keeper of your soul.
“Father, as leaders who are committed to being rock solid on the inside and dangerous for the Kingdom on the outside, grant us fresh eyes to see how to attend more fully to the most important thing about us—the state of our soul. In Your powerful name, Jesus, we ask this. Amen.”
Then Jesus said to his disciples,
“If any of you wants to be my follower,
you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.
If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it.
But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.
And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world
but lose your own soul?
Is anything worth more than your soul?
—Matthew 16:24-26 NLT
Rock Solid Leaders:
The other day I was reading a post and immediately knew I wanted to share it with you, my Rock Solid brothers.
The title of the post is 25 Random Pieces of Advice for Leaders in their 20s-30s-40s. It is written by Carey Nieuwhof. While his audience tips in the direction of leaders in vocational ministry, his counsel is solidly for all of us (including those who live north of 20-30-40 😉).
Here are a few of my top-picks from this write:
1. DEAL WITH YOUR ISSUES EARLY
You have issues. Everyone does.
As tempting as it is to believe otherwise, it’s not your wife, husband, kids or job who are causing all the pain in your life. You are the common denominator in everything that’s happened to you. So deal with you.
Go see a trained Christian counselor. Hire a coach. Read some books. Do what it takes to deal with your junk.
4. STUDY AND PRACTICE FAITHFULNESS
Faithfulness is rare. Not just in marriage, but also in life.
Culture teaches us to dispose of anything or anyone we don’t like.
So do the opposite.
Learn how to be consistent, loyal, and steadfast, holding to what you know is right even when you feel like doing the opposite.
7. CHOOSE A FEW AWESOME FRIENDS AND STICK WITH THEM
Friendships can be confusing in your 20s, 30s, and 40s. Friendship circles change when you leave school, get married and even change jobs.
In the midst of all that change, find a few friends, and stick with them for life.
Most people can only handle 5 really close relationships in their life. Choose those 5 well and build into those relationships deeply.
10. RELENTLESSLY PURSUE SELF-AWARENESS
Self-aware people make the best leaders and frankly, are the easiest people to hang out with in life. Chances are your favourite people are people who are deeply self-aware.
But self-awareness doesn’t come naturally. I’m naturally blind to the impact I have on other people around me. So are you. If you want more on this issue, here are 4 things self-aware leaders know that others don’t.
13. GET COMFORTABLE WITH SOLITUDE
Solitude is a thoughtful leader’s best friend. It also is a key to self-awareness.
If you really want to grow as a person and as a leader, and grow in your relationship with God, get comfortable with solitude.
17. DON’T GIVE INTO STUPID TEMPTATIONS THAT WILL COME YOUR WAY
You will be tempted to do stupid things. Don’t.
Don’t have an affair, take short cuts or cheat to get ahead.
It’s so not worth it.
20. WORK TWICE AS HARD ON YOUR CHARACTER AS YOU DO ON YOUR COMPETENCY
Competency is not the main key to success. Character is.
Your competency will take you only as far as your character can sustain you.
23. BOOK APPOINTMENTS WITH YOURSELF
Your calendar will naturally fill up with urgent things other people believe are important.
And you will watch a decade or more pass by without doing anything really significant.
Book appointments with yourself to do what really matters, whether that’s taking a day off, being with your family, writing an important talk, or taking time to think.
Then when someone asks you if you’re busy, you can truthfully say “I’d love to help, but I have a commitment.”
Good stuff, huh?
My CHALLENGE to you my Rock Solid brother: Calendar some one/one time alone with the Father. In the spirit of Psalm 139:23-24, ask Him to reveal to you which of these words of advice was written just for you.
You see, at the end of the day, leading well is simply identifying your NEXT FAITHFUL STEP of following the One, the only One, worth following.
Brothers, Allow me to share my heavy heart…
Like you, I’ve been trying to take in all the swirling events of these unprecedented days. Reflect. Understand. Pray. In that effort, for me personally, I need to write. I trust that my thoughts and reflections will serve you as you do the same.
There is no debate that our country is in a desperate place. Daily we are reminded of the deeply-seated, long-standing evils of racism, of injustice, of inequality. As you know, Lead With Your Life is an organization commissioned by God to equip Kingdom leaders. As such, we stand in heart and in spirit with all who cry out for God’s healing, restoration, forgiveness, and righteousness.
I mourn with my brothers and sisters who face the sins of racism and injustice and who live in fear as a part of their daily experience…and boldly declare that this is wrong, that it grieves the heart of God, and that it cannot, it must not continue.
At this pivotal moment in history, I want to share several things that are serving as anchors to my soul during these tumultuous times…and I trust they will do the same for you.
Finally, Brother, as a Rock Solid alum, we have called ourselves to be leaders who are rock solid on the inside and dangerous/courageous for the Kingdom on the outside. To that end, in that spirit, and in recognition of these days, I ask you the question that I ask myself: What does Kingdom courage look like…today…for me? Take that question to the prayer closet. Lean in. Listen. Discern.
And then show up strong…for everyone bears the Imago Dei.
…the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what He requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.
—Micah 6:8 NLT
Rock Solid Brothers,
Like yours, my heart is undone, overwhelmed.
Anger. Grief. Confusion. For starters…
For me, the unprecedented days of the coronavirus have been eclipsed by the brutal and evil deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd.
My heart is broken. For Ahmaud’s and George’s loved ones who will never again sit down over a meal to laugh and love and cry together. For my black friends who received yet another reminder that they live with a risk many of us will never know. For a nation that is a mixture of good and evil, of respect and prejudice, of heroes and devils.
Yes, my heart is broken. And I need to sit in that brokenness. Let it sink in—deeply. And with the psalmist, lament “How long, O Lord, how long?”
And with words that feel so inadequate, I say to my black brothers…
You are my friend. You are my brother. We are one—bonded in and by the blood of the living Christ. I love you. I stand with you. I lock arms with you in fighting for the justice owed to you—to every bearer of the Imago Dei. I commit to understanding more deeply what it’s like to walk in your shoes. I am on my knees asking our Father that His kingdom would come…that His will would be done…on earth, as it is in heaven.
This is the cry of my heart…
Rock Solid Brothers,
Like you, given these days of DON’T ROAM-STAY HOME, my weekly worship has shifted from in-person to online. In a recent remote time of ‘corporate’ worship, the song Ancient Words was sung.
And it moved me deeply. To tears.
The words reached out and gripped my heart…
Not fully sure why it hit me so hard. I guess I was caught up in the overwhelming and humbling reality that God has faithfully and graciously (and patiently) used the truth of His Word to make me different.
I was undone by the thought of where I would be…who I would be, save the transforming work of His Word in my life.
No doubt, I’ve got a long way to go. But I am forever grateful that God placed my feet on the solid rock of His truth.
In the most significant sermon ever preached—in-person or online—Jesus places it all into perspective:
These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. —Matthew 7:24-25 MSG
Brother, during these unprecedented days, let’s lean into and build upon these “foundational words.”
And let’s guide our loved ones to do the same.
I love you, Brother.
Everyone’s life gets better when a leader’s life gets stronger.
– Chuck Olson
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