September 6, 2013
My Word for 2013 is SHAPE.
It has been quite a journey with this word so far this year. I have enjoyed it, and loathed it. I’ve prayed about it, journaled about it, and second-guessed it. Now, nine months into the year, my word is SHAPING the way I approach the projects I am involved in as well as some of the challenges I face as a leader.
When I’m facing uncertainty about what I should do, my first reaction is to look for answers. But what I’m realizing is what I need before answers is clarity. And clarity often comes at the hands of great questions. My word SHAPE has wound up giving me great questions to ask, which helps me find the answers I need.
Clarity requires focus, and focus requires elimination. SHAPE has forced me to ask pointed questions about my intended outcome for each challenge that lies before me. What primarily do I want to see happen here?
SHAPE also calls me to think about form, boundaries, and structure. I must think like a potter who is putting his hands to clay. What shape should this take?
As I approach the various challenges of leading, I remain aware of what I tend to do naturally – we all have our default reactions to challenges. I have to decide if my default response is the right response.
My natural tendency with challenges involving other people I’m leading is to take a more hands-off approach. I am a big believer in allowing people ample freedom to discover, learn, and decide. However, sometimes a hands-off approach leaves a vision-vacuum, which frustrates those who need direction.
When I think like a potter – as one who shapes – the hands-off approach is not always the right option. So I scribbled these two questions at the top of my journal:
God, should I take my hands off?
God, should I put my hands on?
It is easy to use “let go and let God” as an excuse not to do anything in a given situation. And it is often tempting to use heavy hands to force your own way. A gut check is necessary to realize how I am tempted to respond. And a My One Word-check reminds me to seek how God wants me to respond. The difference between the two is crucial.
Should I put my hands on this and actively shape it? Or, should I take my hands off and give God room to work?
This questioning flowed from my word this year, and has helped me to see different ways in which I can place my hands and provide SHAPE to areas that need my attention. It may be that I spend time investing in relationships, or challenging old paradigms, or encouraging a fellow potter to use their hands to bring shape to their dreams of ministry.
When you are pressed for answers, don’t forget to ask great questions. Use your one word to ask questions, and to bring some needed clarity before settling on your course of action. I think you’ll be surprised at how it guides you.