"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:8-9).
Where is God already at work? As we continue to delve deeper into how God is calling us to activate our unique purposes, I wanted to provide an example of a leadership practice in action and how I've seen God at work though it. Over the past few years, I've had the privilege of building a team consisting of leaders from different organizations who serve in connected spaces with ELI in Chicago, all oriented around human flourishing. Through this team, collaborating selflessly, and the Spirit's leading, each of us have started to turn challenges into opportunities. Here's how we go about applying a process for problem solving:
1. Define the Problem: One member of our team defines a challenge that they and their organization desire to see as an opportunity. The intention here is authenticity and to bring real, deep struggles to the table that are getting in the way of activating purpose. Two weeks prior to all of us meeting together, they communicate this challenge to the full team and include any additional items or questions to consider.
2. Call the Team: After each spending time in thought, prayer, and research around the challenge, we then assemble the team every third Thursday of the month. When we gather, the challenge moves from a personal challenge to a team opportunity. Not only do we create time to engage in discussion, we also spend time praying for one another and growing connectedness as a team.
3. Collaborate an Anchored Solution: First, we always make sure to anchor (and re-anchor) our collaboration in the Gospel and Word of God. Then, in the time set aside for collaborating selflessly, we work with our team member to better understand the challenge and identify different potential solutions. This process draws upon the individual strengths and experiences of our various team members and allows each person to fully bring their own unique gifting in this dynamic exchange. We aim to cultivate the leader, not give advice or be sages on the stage. It has been amazing to see how this specific space has encouraged and inspired those that have brought forward challenges to the team, including myself!
4. Execute and Reflect: Once a potential solution(s) is understood and embraced, we are then able to partner with the team member to help put the solution into action. With the on-going support of the larger team, a team member may commit fully to helping to bring about this new opportunity and work alongside the individual to see God work in the situation or circumstances. At the next monthly meeting, this individual is also able to share out with the team what has transpired and reflect on the experience.
In applying Jesus' transformational leadership practices within my own life and spheres of influence, I've been so blessed to see God bring about amazing breakthroughs. I've seen friends exchange comfortable for possible and embrace a boldness not of themselves. I've seen others move with service and intentionality to meet the needs, wants, and desires of those with whom they are building relationships. I've seen individuals become teams. And I've seen even more seek after God's purpose for them and wrestle with calling in the most challenging of places, trusting God with what's next. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths" (Proverbs 3:4-6).
What will be your next? Next step of courage? Next opportunity to trust God? Next time to simply sit and see where God is at work so that you may join Him in it? Today, and everyday is an opportunity to start. As a community, let's encourage and challenge one another to be getting after our next as we strive to be about God’s purposes in all that we are, think, and do. "What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me - practice these things, and the God of peace will be you."