This month we’re talking about building healthy foundations for growth and leadership.
“Healthy things grow!” Wise words from one of my pastors that has stuck with me throughout the years. It seems obvious when you think about it, but it’s something that we can easily take for granted. I know I have, especially in those in-between seasons where I’m not quite where I want to be yet and it feels like I can hardly see any progress. It’s easy to lose sight of the purpose in our present when we’re overly focused on the potential up ahead, but there’s something to be said about growing as we travel along from Point A to Point B. We want the big, full, exciting future, but being prepared for it often means growing deep strong roots in our present. In other words, being well equipped for what’s ahead means building a healthy foundation now.
As leaders, we want to be the type of people who are constantly stretching our capacity and are leading others in growing at a healthy pace, as well. You may be saying to yourself, “I’m not a leader,” but whether it’s a team, a family, an organization or just yourself, you are a leader.
As Christians, everything we do should in some way point people to Jesus; it should be making a way for others and producing fruit that isn’t just good for ourselves, but beneficial to others. In other words, leadership.
So, how can we make sure that we are growing and making the most of the process? I’d like to share three characteristics that, like roots, set a strong foundation for healthy growth. While these principles are general enough to be applied to anyone, as a Christian, I want to look at them through the lens of faith.
1. Patience: for yourself and for others. Have you ever heard of the term growing pains? I’m sure you have and even if you haven’t, I’m pretty sure you’ve experienced it in some way or another. Growing isn’t easy and most times its not fun. It can look a lot like standing over a pot of water and waiting for it to boil. Its laborious and it takes long. As un-fun as it can be, patience is essential to healthy growth. Why? Because nothing healthy grows overnight. Healthy growth takes time and it requires us to be well rooted. Whether its growing in a skill, growing in a relationship or growing in a role of leadership–growing takes time and it takes staying power. We need to learn to give the Holy Spirit time to do the work in ourselves and in others. Sure, God can do a miracle and turn things around in one day, but he probably won’t, because he’s more concerned with growing our character and stretching our faith. Growing in character and capacity takes time and time requires patience, so that means sticking through the oftentimes difficult “waiting” period. The Bible puts it this way in Romans 5:3-5:
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
2. Humility: One of the best ways to stay humble is to constantly remind ourselves of the BIG PICTURE. When our view of the big picture (i.e. God’s plan–the gospel) is healthy, it’s hard to not be humble. The grandness of God’s plan and the fact that he has chosen us and allows us to take a part in it in any way completely baffles me!
Stay humble by remembering these three things: BY God, FOR God, THROUGH God. We’re saved and chosen BY God, not by our own merits, but by the finished work of Jesus Christ (i.e. it’s not about me). We’re called to serve FOR God, not to bring glory to ourselves, but to make Him known to all (i.e. it’s not about me). We’re empowered THROUGH God’s Holy Spirit in our lives to do what he’s called us to, we can do nothing apart from him or in our own strength (i.e. it’s not about me). See the pattern here? Do you want to grow your capacity and expand in your personal growth? James 4:10 says:
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
3. Submission: a ten-letter word that often reads like a four-letter word, if you know what I mean. It’s the control freak’s kryptonite and the insecure leader’s Achilles heel, but true and Godly submission is an essential ingredient to healthy growth. You’re only required to submit when what someone else thinks or decides conflicts with what you think or want–otherwise, there’s nothing to submit to. Submission, then, is a practice of both humility and faith. Humility to follow the lead of someone even if we don’t necessarily fully understand, and faith that in practicing obedience, we’ll be doing what is correct (submitting to someone in authority over ourselves).
A healthy person knows that it isn’t always about having the last word or being right. We may not fully understand what God is doing or what a leader is doing, but having the humility to follow (and lead) is key to healthy growth.
Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. Psalms 143:10
Healthy growth doesn’t just happen; growth has to be tended to. It requires intentionality, time and deep, solid roots. Let’s grab growth by the horns today by building ourselves up with patience and humility as we submit to the process!