2016 has been a year of change. Sitting in my office and looking towards Christmas coming in just a few days I am prompted to reflect on everything this past year has brought to my life. Leaving youth ministry, starting in a new position, leading a new team, my wife and I are expecting our first child–life has been full. I’m finding it important to reflect and think back to what I have learned and how I have changed over the past 365 days. Today, I thought I would bring you in on my reflections in three areas. Something I learned personally, something I learned professionally, and the most influential books that I read in 2016.
1. The thing I am learning personally is I don’t always come across like I think I do. My boldness and direct language may be a positive in some situations but in many places my innate desire to dominate a situation and provide leadership through making a decision is not as welcome as I thought it was. Previously, I thought my blunt honesty was what made my leadership strong. Through words of a wise and honest friend, who is also my boss, I realized the way I say things is important. I always knew that, but because most people saw things my way by the end of our conversation, I thought I was doing things right. Through the guidance of a mentor I realized my boldness and blunt comments don’t necessarily mean people agree with me. It means no one wants to argue with me. I have a lot of work to do in this area in 2017.
2. What I learned professionally is I don’t know everything. Coming from youth ministry, an area where I was relatively comfortable, and transitioning to my new position as discipleship pastor has been a humbling experience. I learned that just because I found some success in one area does not mean I know how to find success in another. Each day I am now learning to trust Jesus anew as I step into new areas where I was never “trained”. My hope is I will have the same trust in Jesus this time next year. I also hope I have a better idea about what I am doing a year from now.
3. January of 2016 I set out with a goal to read 12 books. I know to be a leader I have to be a reader, so I decided to set my goal and consume one book a month. As of today I have finished 24 books this year. I have two more to finish before the New Year. These books have had a massive influence on my life and leadership this year. Here are the top three and the reasons why.
a. Fairness Is Overrated – This was the first book I read this year. Its brief and impactful chapters give very valuable tips and reminders to anyone in leadership. Our Youth Pastor Alex used it as a daily leadership devotional and then gave a copy to me. I read it in a few days. I think it’s a book you should reread each year. If you are looking for a leadership devotional to invest in each day this is a great choice.
b. Mastering Life Before It’s To Late – This was a book given to me by my Sr. Pastor Chris Marshall. It’s a book about life planning with purpose. It has helped me to realize how I am wasting time and the true value of those wasted minutes and hours. I would not have doubled my goal for book reading this year if it wasn’t for this book. If you need help with discipline, motivation, or personal life organization this is a fantastic place to start.
c. Leadership And Self Deception – This book changed my life. At its base it’s a book about self-awareness. It helps you realize how your subtle manipulation of others forces you into a cycle that defeats them and frustrates you. It was one of the most eye-opening books I have ever read. As someone who believes he is fairly self-aware I found myself proven wrong with each page. I don’t know that I will fully understand the impact of this book on my leadership for years. I just know it will be on my reread list for 2017.
Ultimately, I hope this blog has helped you grow as a leader. I know reflection and writing has helped me grow. If one person has read the blog this year then my time has been well spent. Even if no one reads our thoughts here I know it has helped me grow. I don’t know what 2017 will bring for Relevant Leadership but I do know this year of helping leaders grow has been a blessing to me. See you someway in 2017! Lead well.