The Road Ahead is Littered with Foolish Bones

Every person can move their life ahead by examining the road behind, the road ahead, and the road beneath their feet.

This is a six part series. I’ll put the links to the rest for your convenience.

  1. Change Is Unavoidable. This Will Affect You.
  2. Three Ways You Can Prepare for the Coming Change Storm
  3. What To Do When the Change Tornado Has You Spinning
  4. How to Avoid Drowning in Change
  5. The One Thing Change Requires That We Always Forget. Tears.
  6. The Road Ahead is Littered with Foolish Bones

The Road Behind Must Not Be Forgotten

I am proud of the way I finished at our church. I stayed engaged till the very end. This week will find me still training a few church leaders in their new tasks and the unenviable task of cleaning out 15 years of office space.

I’m convinced that I have to continue to have appropriate engagement with the leaders and members of my former church. I don’t want to influence their future, but I know their past better than anyone. I can also continue to come alongside these leaders as they run into unexpected obstacles. I can’t engage their future problems or rescue them from their current tasks.

Whenever I have left an organization in the past where I played a key leadership role, it has always been difficult for them to adjust. I have unique gifts that are hard to replace. This has been very hard on me emotionally. I feel responsible for their struggle. An aha I had this past week has been helpful. Even though previous organizations have struggled upon my departure, none of them have failed.

Our church will struggle. I won’t rescue them, and I won’t abandon them. I will give them appropriate consideration.

This principle is true as your children grow into adulthood, as people are promoted in your organization, as people leave your organization, and even as you leave an organization. The key for me is not let the strong emotions of their struggle influence me to close myself off or to return in an inappropriate way. The worst church transitions I’ve ever seen were when the pastor just couldn’t take his hands off the wheel.

What level of consideration are you giving to the road behind? Too much? Too little? How could you adjust your interaction in order to support without carrying?

The Road Ahead Will Appear Treacherous

The road ahead is unfortunately littered with the bones of foolish people who also thought this was a great path. You absolutely have to ask yourself — who are you to be the one who will succeed on this dangerous path? I shared this with a friend last night over dinner. He said, “There is no doubt that many have failed, but I’m pretty confident you won’t be one of them.” I’ve actually heard this over and over.

I find myself crushing my spirit by constantly calculating revenues for the next year. I find myself crushed again when I make a proposal and only get approval for half to two-thirds. But listen, and mainly I’m talking to myself here, I don’t know all the opportunities that will present themselves in 2016. There will be offers that I could never have predicted. All revenues can’t be predicted. I will have to faith in myself and in God who called me this direction.

And as for only getting half of a proposal, I have to recalculate what I celebrate. When a client accepts over half of my proposal, it means they are will to sacrifice their resources in belief that I can be of great help to them. It does not mean they believe the rest of my proposal is fluff.

I heard Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, talking about how Donald Trump truly is the great negotiator. Adams was not endorsing Trump, but he was making people aware that as Trump proposes drastic measures, such as forcing 11 million illegal aliens to leave the country, and to build a wall between the United States and Mexico that Mexico pays for, he doesn’t expect to get all of it. According to Adams, Trump mainly wants the wall, and if Mexico pays for half of it, Trump would be able to graciously (and sacrificially) meet them halfway.

Great negotiators start by asking way too much. I’m not a great negotiator, and I don’t have to be. I will continue to write proposals for clients that I think are exactly what they need, but I also need to remember the art of negotiation rarely will return to me a client who buys everything I offer. I shouldn’t feel bad about not getting the impossible.

What are some ways you are allowing the future to crush your spirit? What is a more sensible perspective that infuses you with more hope?

The Road Beneath Me is Where I Need to Live

I can’t live in the past or in the future. I must live each day in the present. Since my schedule is fairly flexible, as are most pastors’, I need to know what I need to be doing right this very minute.

My wife and I are trying a new rhythm where Tuesday mornings start with coffee and conversation. This starts with our immediate calendars so we are on the same page. We might discuss some Coach Approach stuff since Danelle is our Administrative Assistant. Then we will talk about some life stuff.

Out of this morning’s conversation, we made a list of birthday presents for our youngest son. This is really refreshing because we drove an hour the day before to buy our middle son’s present back in May. It looks like we might get into a rhythm that ends our last minute gift shopping. That just might make Christmas more enjoyable this year!

It was tempting to immediately get online and order his gifts. It felt urgent. But it is critical to work on what is important before you work on what is urgent. Running and Writing are important to me and to my work. Through some coaching, I came to the conclusion that I want to write at least three times per week. I had previously set that goal for five times a week, but I go back to that rule about celebrating achievement and realized with a five time a week goal, I will consistently fail. With a more appropriate goal, I will exceed three times a week and become a rock star.

I also keep an urgent list that I pull out when the important task is finished. I keep three urgent tasks available in a list. Only these three tasks are available for me to see. Why is it so tempting to double check myself and look at longer lists to see if there is anything more pressing? The short list lets me act immediately and decisively, and not feel the weight of all that isn’t yet done.

What can you do to keep the Important at the heart of your daily work? What can you do to keep an Urgent list available to you but not allow it to control your entire day?