The Blueprint for a Culture of Purpose

The Blueprint for a Culture of Purpose

Recently, I attended GLI’s Leadership One Day and for the breakout session I decided to attend a speaker I hadn’t previously heard. Doug Bierer, owner of DBC, offered his thoughts during a session entitled “Biblical Blueprint for a Culture of Purpose”.  He began with the question, “How do we create a culture that fulfills God’s purpose?”  

This fits in beautifully with the Dream Disciple concept: Compassionate Storyteller, Savvy Follower, Intentional Friend, Embedded Influencer. At the intersection of all these concepts is a unified mission: integrating into and influencing our unique cultures.  

Not Culture with a capital C, but the micro culture where we all individually live and work and engage with people.  This is the place where my “good works” happen— where I live out the fruits of the spirit through the grace of God.  

As a business owner and employer, Doug addressed this prosaic life mission head-on with disarming humor and relatability.

Those You Lead Become Like You

And yet, my own spirit was provoked when I heard him say, “Those you lead become like you.” Regardless of my area of influence, from disciplining to parenting, my own mission has never been to cultivate people who look like me. The idea feels both prideful and sobering. But my perspective changed when I reversed the idea: as followers of Christ, we should become more Christ-like. It’s called sanctification, a big word for the bigger work of the Holy Spirit. 

Though I do not perceive myself as a capital “L” leader, I do embrace the influence I have on those in my circle. As a middle school teacher, it necessarily keeps me accountable for the daily interactions and even casual remarks I make to my students.  

Also, I’m fascinated by culture as a concept. Human culture writ large is a mirror of humanity’s unique quirks. For instance, trick-or-treating kids in St. Louis are expected to recite a joke before receiving their candy. In Hendersonville, NC one eats “supper” instead of “dinner”. And right here in Erie my husband and I were intrigued to find that people husk their corn right there in the grocery store! (Yes, Erie friends, I’ve lived in sixteen states and never seen that one before!) 

How do these fun quirks of culture come to be? Because culture is a living, breathing thing, reflecting the humans that comprise it. We all help to create it.

Culture is Determined by What You Follow

As Doug stated in his presentation, “Culture flows from who or what the leader follows.” I left that conversation encouraged to “step up, Savvy Follower”, choosing to regularly ask: How accurately does my daily life reflect biblical doctrine? Is my next step to build consistency in my daily quiet time?  Or learn better techniques for reading the Bible? (There’s a GLI class for that too.) Or to simply repent of my wrong attitude and allow Christ to change me?   

If culture is determined by what I follow, it necessarily follows that getting clarity on my identity is extremely important. I am inundated by a daily deluge of messages about my identity and few of them are holy, healthy, or accurate. Do I know whose I am? What does scripture say about my identity? By the way, GLI has a great six week class, Calling of a Leader, that addresses that topic well.

His second point (he had three main points, which is probably de rigeur since he is a former pastor) was that having a well-defined purpose will equip you to create an effective culture. This lesson was driven home during a recent visit from my newly-adult children. We were discussing how, several years ago, I was encouraged to write down and memorize my own spiritual purpose statement. I am well aware of how this discipline of purpose has helped me over the years. But I wasn’t aware of the impact it had made on my own children— until they recited my purpose statement back to me, word-for-word, in unison! Obviously, they were paying attention in ways I never could have predicted! This perfectly illustrates Doug’s point: a well-defined purpose absolutely drives a culture of influence. 

How does our calling align with God’s purposes? How am I investing in my culture? Look for the intersection of who you are, in fact who you were made to be, and how God is leading you to serve those around you. By deliberately engaging with our sphere of influence, with the leading and empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we really can help to forge a broader culture of growth, healing, and faith. 

8 Ugly Outcomes of Insecure Leadership

8 Ugly Outcomes of Insecure Leadership

What is Insecurity?

Insecurity is an overall sense of uncertainty or anxiety about your worth, abilities, skills, and even value as a person.

It is often marked by things like an overriding feeling of inadequacy. A lack of self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. People feeling like they are unable or ill-equipped to cope with stressors and anxious about their interactions and relationships with others. I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing evidence of rising levels of insecurity in people all around me. More of my co-workers, teammates, family members, and friends are dealing with the effects of insecurity. There can be a number of reasons.

Insecurity can be the result of some trauma or crisis from the past. Something happened in childhood that a person has never really gotten over. Some rejection back there, or failure, or dysfunction from a past event or a past relationship that still echoes and reverberates into the present day.

But even leaders who didn’t come through a traumatic childhood can deal with insecurity. I think because of your unique role as a leader, having to make decisions that affect people, having to set a course for the future that not everyone may agree with, or having to keep a company going so that workers can continue to get a paycheck, the stakes are high for leaders. Insecurity is a normal emotion that comes about when we’re exposed to something new or something that seems beyond us.

How does insecurity show up in the life of leaders?

Insecurity can easily creep into a person’s leadership. I think about where we are after a global pandemic that none of us were prepared for. It seems to have upended reality in ways that we are still coming to understand. How do people work or not work, remote vs in-person meetings and services, is there a normal that we’re going back to or is that long gone?

Every leader I know felt like they were in over their head – and many may still be dealing with the insecurity that was born out of this season. Everything felt destabilizing and some haven’t recovered. So, insecurity has run rampant in leaders. And especially in Christian circles I think insecurity can act as the evil twin of humility. Sometimes they disguise as each other.

I’ve had recent conversations asking someone to consider stepping into a new role. It happens every time with new elders in my church / I would expect the first response to be humility – I’m honored, I don’t feel worthy, I’m humbled to be asked / but that humility can disguise the insecurity – if the person is thinking – I’m uncertain, or inadequate, or unable. Once you are in a new role that’s intimidating, if you’re not careful, you’ll start faking it. And this vicious cycle starts playing like a recording in your head. You feel like an imposter and if people only knew…  Insecurity starts to grow like a cancer and eventually will undermine every bold decision you try to make.

And I’ve worked with insecure leaders before – and it’s not great. They tend to create drama, they can even unintentionally cause pain in the lives of those they lead. Because that insecurity eventually start coming out in all kinds of ways. Leaders have to guard against insecurity.

8 Ugly Outcomes of Insecure Leadership

1. Defensiveness

When ideas or decisions are challenged in any way they become instantly defensive. They begin to put down the person who challenged them. Thinking of all the reasons that person isn’t qualified to push back. Insecure leaders interpret disagreement as disloyalty. They stop seeing people as people with something to contribute and they start seeing them as either for me or against me.

2. Control freak tendencies

Because they are insecure, they have to be involved in every conversation. Any conversations or decisions that are made without their consent or approval are viewed as insubordination. And even if an idea is a good one, it gets shot down because it didn’t go through the proper channels.

3. Unhealthy comparisons

When a leader is insecure they start sizing up everyone else, and tearing them down to try to make the other person smaller so they can feel bigger. Instead of celebrating the victories of colleagues and co-workers – insecure leaders always find something to critique. Instead of learning from other similar churches or organizations or companies who are succeeding, they explain away their successes and are gleeful at setbacks.

4. Blame-shifting

When mistakes are made insecure leaders refuse to own their responsibility. They are concerned more with coming out clean and protecting their own reputation instead of improving the culture of the organization as a whole.

5. Paralysis of analysis

Making a hard decision means committing to something and being on the hook for the results. They need to seek advice from one more consultant or have one more meeting or gather a new round of data all in an effort to stall the decision because of their own insecurity.

6. Mishandling conflicts

Insecure leaders either avoid conflict altogether through passive aggressive means like resorting to sarcasm or gossip, or they look at every situation as a potential conflict. They tend to be either too soft in times of disagreement or harsh. By contrast, secure leaders handle conflict with both truth and grace working together.

7. Craving the spotlight

The problems are someone else’s fault but the successes are all mine. Insecure leaders are careful not to give others the spotlight. They’ll let people do work behind the scenes but when it comes to presenting or preaching or prognosticating – it all needs to flow through them. They use words like “I” and “My” more than “We” or “Our”. It’s my team that did this, it was my idea that got us to where we are, I have been the catalyst for change in this organization.

8. Limiting and belittling others

Threatened by strong or up-and-coming leaders – Always leery or suspicious of other leaders – constantly coming up with things to critique about others as a reason that they shouldn’t advance or have additional responsibilities. They don’t attract the best people, but those who are not as good as they are who can be controlled mentally or emotionally

Sources of Insecurity and God’s Response

So we all know that insecurity can be ugly. But what are some sources of insecurity and how does God provide some solutions.

To help us explore the sources of insecurity, there’s an amazing section of the Old Testament where Moses, one of the great leaders of all time, who led the Israelites out of 400 years of slavery in Egypt, faced down some of his insecurities. And it’s a really great little study in Exodus 3 and 4 where there’s a kind of back and forth between Moses and God. Moses expressing his insecurities and God answering him. And I think we can see clearly some of the sources of where insecurity comes from. So the first source of insecurity is

Self-Doubt.  Moses says “who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” Who am I? Some of you with imposter syndrome resonate with this. Who am I? If people really knew me they would never… It happens to me almost every time I stand up to preach even after 27 years – who the heck am I? And God’s response and I quote, he said, “I will be with you.” This is God’s most oft repeated promise in the bible. Not I will forgive you, not I will love you, or I will save you. It is I will be with you. It emboldens us, it straightens our spine to know that God is with us. I’ve heard it said this way, security comes with proximity. The closer you get to God the more secure you will be in your own skin.

Lack of knowledge. After God says I will be with you. Moses comes right back with, what will I say to them? If the people start asking questions – I’m not going to know what to say. I haven’t been trained, I haven’t been prepared, I’m not qualified. Some of you feel that. God’s response was “I’ll fill in the blanks” he basically tells Moses when the people start asking about who sent you and what your qualifications are, tell them I AM sent you. This is the first time God has ever revealed his name. He’s saying – I’ll give you what you need – I’ll provide the answers. you don’t need to be a control freak – because I’m in control. Moses comes right back with another source of insecurity.

Fear of failure. He says but they won’t believe me. what if the results aren’t there? What if I fail? What if I put myself out there and no one follows? God’s response? Use what you have and let me worry about the results. God says, what’s that in your hand. Moses says a staff. God says throw it down. He does and it turns into a snake. God says pick it up and it turns back into a staff. What’s happening here? God demonstrated His power- He’s saying – I’ll do stuff that you could never do anyway – just use what’s in your hand. This takes all the pressure off. We just need to be faithful with our gifts – our stuff – our ordinary – God will do extraordinary. We like results – but we have to remember that God has enough to accomplish through us what He pleases.

Lack of skills. Moses says I’m not eloquent. I’m not a speaker. I’m not good in front of people. I get stage fright. You got the wrong guy God. This is my favorite come back from God – God just says, who made your mouth? He’s telling Moses I’ll enable you. This is a very powerful leadership principle. God’s calling is God’s enabling. God’s will is God’s bill. If he gives you an assignment, he won’t leave you hanging.

Comparison. Finally Moses gets frustrated with all the comebacks and just say- please send someone else. He looks around and he says – there’s a bunch of people who could do this better than me. God responds, I’ll bring you good people, but you have to use them. He says I’ll send your brother Aaron. He’s coming to meet you – he’ll encourage you – And God says I’ll teach you both what to do.

Is there anywhere in your leadership where you’re feeling insecure? Maybe from self-doubt, or lack of knowledge or fear of failure, how about lack of skills or comparing yourself with all the people you assume could do it better than you. That’s not humility – that’s insecurity. Step into your calling. Not only does God have the answer for every one of those insecurities – he is the answer. Lead well.

How to Become a More Secure and Confident Leader

Got just 1 hour every month to prioritize growing as a leader? Join us at Grace Leadership Institute in Erie, Pennsylvania, every month for Lead Up!

During Lead Up, we’ll watch a quick video replay of favorite Global Leadership Summit topics from the past 5 years and have meaningful discussions, all while networking with other leaders in our region. It’s a great way to prioritize becoming a more secure and confident leader every month. Click here to view upcoming Lead Up sessions! 

5 Things Every Christian Leader Should be Doing

5 Things Every Christian Leader Should be Doing

The following list does not represent things I’ve learned as a Christian leader. I myself identify less as a Christian leader but more as an occasionally critical observer of leadership in the church. This list instead represents what I have learned as an observer of Christian leadership from more of an outsider’s perspective—both in its successes and failures.

If that statement disinclines you to read further, might I humbly (ahem) suggest that you are exactly the Christian leader this is written for. Check it out and see if it helps. If so, let’s go grab a coffee and talk about it! If not, let’s go grab a coffee, and I will genuinely listen to where I got it wrong.

1) Taking Cues from the Right Source

The church has much to learn from the business world—and has eagerly done so in recent decades. But our leadership model is decidedly more ancient (and reliable) than the New York Times bestseller list.

Since all truth is God’s truth, there is inevitably some crossover between great leadership thinking and the Bible, but the Venn diagram is far from perfect.

We all admire certain thought leaders and influencers—those we view as icons of success. And yet we must be sensitive to the reality that they are ultimately fallible. They will occasionally come into conflict with the deeper truths of Jesus and the Bible.

Only by taking our cues from the Ultimate source can we clearly see what other ideas—or people—not to follow.

We will grow when we remember: both alphabetically and in our own hearts, there are only a few letters difference between “icon” and “idol”.

2) Lead Oneself First

How often have we listened to a great sermon and thought, “If only so-and-so could hear this!”

The same is true for all those leadership lessons, books, seminars, and podcasts we leader-types love to engage in! “I know just who needs to hear this,” we think. We are immediately planning who and how to share all these great new pearls of wisdom with.

And indeed, there is some utility in this. For anyone called to be a leader, no small part of the job is to bring good teaching to those who will benefit from it.

And yet we will never effectively communicate any lesson until (and if) we have fully integrated it ourselves.

If we truly wish to be effective, it behooves us: before sallying forth with any new leadership lesson, stop and contemplate: what does this lesson reveal about my own life, struggles, and flaws? How do I exhibit the problem this lesson addresses? What new choices should I make before leading anyone else in this area?

If we fully engage with this process, not only will we approach our team with greater effectiveness and empathy, we will be far better equipped to communicate the lesson via our own experience.

3) Willingly Follow as Much as Lead

It won’t surprise anyone that leadership is a hot topic in the church today.

One of the side effects of this focus on leadership, however, is that there are far more self-proclaimed leaders out there than there are followers.

The key isn’t to cultivate two separate groups—a sort of caste system of leaders and followers—but to embrace that we are all capable of (and benefited by) being both. We can all sometimes serve as leaders, even to our leaders. And we can all learn from others, even those we perceive as our followers.

To be clear (because this one is huge): the world is not separated into two neat groups: the people you can learn from (your pastor, your favorite writers and thought leaders) and the people you lead (your team, your employees, your students or group) with you neatly in the middle between them.

Everyone and anyone can offer you valuable counsel. And everyone and anyone can be benefitted by your leadership. It takes humility and bravery to live in this messy tension, but there is little growth outside of it.

4) Seek Feedback from the Right People

Recently, a friend asked me for feedback on her resume. I glanced at it and proclaimed it a solid thumbs-up. The friend then showed her resume to my wife, who launched into a detailed and informed critique of the font size, the spacing, and the overall layout. In this little interaction, I observed something interesting: I am a natural cheerleader, and my wife is a natural editor.

All leaders are trained to seek feedback. But we downplay our natural (even hidden) instinct to seek it from the cheerleaders, not from the editors.

Cheerleaders make us feel good, but don’t they help us grow. Editors can be no fun, but they are essential to making us better. Both have roles in our lives. I myself benefit from the cheerleaders when I am at the beginning of a new endeavor. But I also absolutely need the critical assistance of the editors once that endeavor is underway.

Some of the greatest failures in the church have come about as result of leaders having too few (if any) editors they were willing to submit to. Don’t make this mistake. Find a good and trusted life-editor and bribe them with whatever it takes to sock it to you with both barrels.

It won’t be fun, but it will make you better tomorrow than you are today.

5) Regularly De-load

De-loading is a term common in the body-building community. It is the deliberate act of reducing the weights lifted after a period of systematic increase. For example, if a lifter has steadily increased his bench-press by five pounds a week for the past two months, he may choose to drop his sets by twenty pounds for a week or more.

Why? Because the human body isn’t made for constant, endless increase. The body needs recovery. Perhaps more importantly, overstressing the body’s capacity for growth inevitably leads to exhaustion, or worse, catastrophic failure (and you will thank me for not posting YouTube links illustrating this).

Our growth as Christian leaders functions the same way. One of the best leaders I know asks his team two questions at the beginning of a new season. 1: what new thing can we do? And 2: what established thing will we stop doing?

That second question is unpopular. Like the bodybuilder, it wounds our ego to knock back the weights a little. But it’s absolutely necessary.

A glance around the landscape of Christian leadership illustrates this all too well. Leaders who don’t de-load—who don’t delegate leadership, cut back on responsibilities, and make bandwidth for healthy rest and submission—inevitably exhaust themselves, or worse, fail catastrophically as the flex of their ambition and influence outstrips the ligament of their discipline and humility.

And that’s the list.

I doubt it’s comprehensive, but hopefully, you’ll find it useful, particularly as you engage with great content, thought-provoking teaching, and enriching lessons via GLI, church, and your favorite authors and podcasts.

As someone who identifies less as a leader (or, I admit, even a follower) but mostly as an occasionally critical observer of leadership in the church, I commend your willingness to embrace your role—and pray (for my own sake as well as yours!) that you will do so equipped with these hopefully useful habits.

If you do—or if even more, if you do not—I definitely welcome that coffee discussion. I’m buying!

G. Norman Lippert

The Wolf You Feed [How to Lead Well]

The Wolf You Feed [How to Lead Well]

We’re taught early in school to pay extra attention to the things the teacher repeats or writes on the board. I’ve learned as an adult that the lesson still applies. When an idea or topic repeats multiple times from multiple sources, I’d better pay attention.

Recently, leadership growth and multiplication have been that topic. It’s one that is on my heart as I listen to the turmoil of domestic and international news, as my oldest prepares to head off to college, as I work to support teams of people in ministry. I want to be led well and lead others well.

There’s a Native American parable about two wolves. One is evil – full of anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego (sound like any leaders you know?). The other embodies joy, peace, hope, humility, benevolence, empathy, generosity, and truth (sound like leaders, you know?). Both wolves are fighting to the death inside a person. The parable teaches that the winning wolf is the one you feed.

If we want to be led by, to become, to be surrounded by more good leaders, we have to “feed” the good wolf in all of us. After all, we all lead someone; we even lead ourselves! How do we lead well, feeding the good wolf?

Abraham Maslow’s Four Stages of Competence

As we learn, we go from unconscious incompetence (we don’t know what we don’t know) to conscious incompetence (I’m aware I don’t know – now I need to do something about it) to conscious competence (maybe I’ve received training, I now know and am improving) to unconscious competence (I can do this well without thinking about it and can lead/teach others).

Traveling through this cycle grows skill. I feed the good wolf by first being conscious of my thoughts, feelings, and actions. I must do my best to ensure that the initiatives I take and the responses I have align with the kind of leader I want to be. With training and practice, I may get to the place where I no longer have to think about how to run a good meeting, have that serious 1:1 talk, or tackle the team project without railroading anyone else’s contributions or derailing the project entirely. Then, I am free not only to continue doing those things well, but also train and cheer others in the process, even as I go on to learn something new.

Level Up Your Leadership Skills

At Lead Up, you have the opportunity to learn from unconsciously competent leaders. Ones who have taken the time to feed the good wolf in their lives and who have much wisdom and experience to share. Ideally, we don’t stop at mastery of one competency, but go round again, learning new skills, developing talents to serve the different seasons in which we find ourselves.

Won’t you join me from 5:30pm-6:30pm on the second Monday of the month at Grace Leadership Institute for Lead Up? In just one hour a month, the content from past Global Leadership Summit speakers and the group discussions that follow can help us level up and improve our practical leadership skills while networking with other area leaders. Registration is open! I hope to see you at one (or all) of our upcoming nights.

A Glimpse Inside GLI’s Christian Leadership Certificate Program

A Glimpse Inside GLI’s Christian Leadership Certificate Program

Interview at Grace Leadership Institute with Art Bartelson, a recent GLI Christian Leadership Certificate program graduate.

JL: Art, What prompted you to want to take the Leadership Certificate courses

AB: Well, being a leader in my church, I always like to learn and self-improve. 

When this course became available, I was in the hospital for the first round so I was unable to attend when he had his first 101 class. I started with the 102 class and did the 103 and came back and did the 101. So it was rather convenient not to have to follow them in order. 

JL: Tell me again the name of your church?

AB: Believers International Worship Center 

JL: How would you say you’ve grown from taking the Leadership Certificate course? 

AB: It gave me a better understanding of Biblical leadership as opposed to Business leadership. The course is rooted in scripture. Servant leadership has always been something that has fascinated me, and I try to study it as much as I can. The aspect of just becoming a better servant and helping those around me makes me happy. 

JL: I get that.

JL: If you were asked for your biggest takeaway, particularly from this last one, the Leadership 101 course, what would you say?

AB: The background of your name.

JL: I loved that part! 

AB: All throughout scripture, when God encountered Man, he always had a name for them. If that name wasn’t sufficient or the individual had to be reminded, God took care of that. In the 102 and 103, I think the biggest takeaway through that is the overall purpose of spiritual disciplines. So, the practicing of those on a daily basis is tantamount to Christian leadership. To have that relationship with God and be able to put your best foot forward in spite of yourself, but following the lead of God and his will not only in your life but in how you worship him and serve others. 

JL: I remember we were in the same Spiritual disciplines class. Was there anything you added to your repertoire? 

AB: I’d have to say that in my daily planner there is a section and I’ve tried to practice one or two spiritual disciplines per week. And then I’ve jotted down scripture that come to mind or setting aside a personal study time. During that personal time it’s just solitude with God. Not only is it convicting but it also puts me at ease. It give me insight into his will. 

JL: You mentioned the name thing, from Leadership 101. I loved that part, too. Will you tell me your whole name and what each part means?

AB: Well, my full name is Arthur Howard Bartelson. The first name of Arthur was in Roman times Arturios, which according to sources, is “rock”. The other (meaning) is “defender”. 

“Howard” I didn’t find much on. Bartelson is “Son of Bartel”, the closest thing I’ve come to was “an unwavering stand.” It originally started out as “Bark,” like the bark on a tree. So, having that in mind, the Jewish and Roman interpretations of that had unwavering roots. That’s what I liked about that. I never researched my name before.

JL: What was your response to learning what your name meant? 

AB: I really didn’t have a response to what my name meant but looking at the aspects of my life that I’ve taken for granted, I see that actions and thoughts and characteristics kind of met what my name means whether I knew it or not.  

JL: That’s insightful. 

JL: Who would you recommend this class to? 

AB: I’d have to say any individual who is looking for a good foundation for Christian leadership. Who may be thinking of a role in a local church or a local organization. Some of the characteristics and such that were brought forth in all of the classes were interchangeable between business and church. So, having a well-rounded foundation before going on to more in-depth classes, I think this would be a good stepping stone.  

JL: What was a personal challenge to you when you took the class? 

AB: Outside of taking a closer look inward, the characteristics of a leader and then the competencies of some of the subjects that were brought forward, as well as some of the homework assignments, made me look at myself and my approach to different things, but I didn’t view it as a struggle or as an issue. 

JL: What new relationships have you developed from going through the classes? 

AB: Well, the two individuals who started with me, Hyder and Miguel, were my recent mentees for ministerial training. I was entrusted with their training, and they were both granted their ministerial license. And since then, I have two more. Having the zeal for learning and sharing what I’ve learned, I’ve been entrusted with that, as well as a church leader myself, to be able to share what I know and (to share) my study habits with others. I find that very satisfying.

JL: How would you describe the courses to someone who said, “Well, I’m not really a leader.”?

AB: Whether they view themselves that way or not, everyone has that potential. Whether it’s helping someone cross the road or helping someone in a grocery store get an item they can’t reach, there are underlying characteristics in everyone that could make them a leader. The individual may not see those attributes at first, but classes like this let them know you are a unique individual, blessed by God, and whether you understand it or not, every one of us has a calling. Not necessarily to uphold it, it may not be active participation in the church. You can be active in your community, you can be active at school, you can be active in your community. If you are a parent, you are a leader whether you want to believe it or not. Because your children follow your lead, your family follows your lead. 

AB: One of the key things with this class was hearing from authors and some of the videos where those questions were answered, maybe in a different manner than I just did. Even in the workplace, at any time, you could be called on at any time, you know?. “Hey, I need you to do this. I need you to do that.” So, just having that skill set could make you further your career or your calling.

JL: What’s next for you? 

AB: Well, the skies the limit. There are additional classes here which I am taking. Right now, I’m taking the TCL 104 course, which is “Key Skills for Today’s Church Leaders.” In the Spring, I will be taking the TCL 109 class, which is on mental health.

It’s an easy place to learn. The staff is wonderful. That’s a plug. 

I’m impressed with how they are able to get college professors to come in here to teach. The TCL 101 course with Seulgi. It was an Old Testament course called “How to Read and Interpret the Bible.” His knowledge and interpretation of scripture and having been to the places that are in the Bible. He was able to reflect on that.  

He’s going to be teaching it again (in the spring).

AB: I’d like to see a class done on the writings of Paul. I like his writing. It’s blunt and to the point.  

JL: I want to personally say thank you because you do a lot of “heavy lifting” as they say, with the technology. 

AB: You’re welcome. I find being able to use the technology is easy.  

JL: Thanks for being willing to go outside of your comfort zone to do this interview. 

AB: You’re welcome.

Enroll in an Upcoming Course at Grace Leadership Institute

Are you interested in any of the courses mentioned in this interview? See our upcoming course offerings of these and other upcoming leadership and ministry-related courses here!

Leveling Up Your Self-Awareness [With Examples]

Leveling Up Your Self-Awareness [With Examples]

Most of us think we are pretty self-aware. And by thinking that, most of us prove we are wrong. 

Grace Leadership Institute recently hosted Dr. Tyler Cook at their Leadership One Day event. Dr. Cook spoke on the topic of “Leading from Within”, sharing concepts from his recently published book, Building Authenticity. Of all the challenging ideas he shared – and there were many – the one I particularly want to highlight in this post is self-awareness.

The Golden Ticket to Personal Breakthrough

Why, you ask? I’ve been hearing from multiple sources for the last year or so how self-awareness is the golden ticket to personal breakthrough.  Without it, you’ll apparently never level up, achieve your full potential, or be the best friend, spouse, sibling, employee, etc. that you could possibly be. 

4 Ways to Level Up Your Self Awareness

Maybe you, like me, aren’t sure about your level of self-awareness. What’s a plan for how to level up?

1. Invite two or three close friends or family members to answer the question: “What’s it like to be on the other side of me?” and/or “What have you noticed tends to trigger me, and how do I tend to react?”

2. Be on the lookout for asymmetrical responses. These are likely when you are being triggered. At first, just notice them.

3. Do the same with any responses to how others experience you. Take a perspective of curiosity, watch for the dynamic to happen, and just notice it.

4. Once triggers are identified, make a plan for how to self-soothe or deescalate the reaction.  For behaviors, ask “Is this how I want to be showing up right now?”  Maybe it is, if not, adjust accordingly.

Putting It Into Practice: Examples of Self Awareness

What might this look like in practice? Well, I had the “opportunity” to reflect on my angry and asymmetrical reaction to a situation for which I’d been given ample warning. 

Here’s the thing about self-awareness, once you become aware of something, in this instance a trigger, you can no longer be blissfully ignorant. Now you own it, you are responsible for predicting events or interactions that might trigger you, for thinking about how to stay calm or to minimize the impact of your response.  I’ve discovered that once I get beyond my initial reaction, which is always anger, I discover more subtle emotions lurking which require me to be more honest and vulnerable, if at least with myself. Ah for the days of hiding behind anger as a handy emotional go-to. 

Recognizing that and digging a little deeper, I see that my anger, or your fear, or her sadness are the first reactions, ok. Then I realize I’m actually feeling overwhelmed, you conclude you are feeling insecure, and she realizes she is feeling shame.  

Now it’s time we explore why. That’s a quiet, solitary, reflective activity we must initiate individually. 

    The Importance of Self-Awareness and Shrinking Our Blind Spots

    Some of us don’t explore self-awareness because it exposes us. We stand emotionally naked before the crowd. Also, it’s a ton of work excavating our thoughts and emotions. 

    But if we don’t work on shrinking our blind spots, we are choosing to be less than fully authentic with ourselves and by default all those around us. On the other hand, by being more self-aware we make the world a better place for both ourselves and our community. It’s a classic win-win.  

    During a recent weekend visit with friends I haven’t seen in years, I had the opportunity to ask the question again “What’s it like to be on the other side of me?”  The response was helpful and also just a teensy bit hard to digest.  

    So, I took a metaphorical Tums and reflected on the significance of their feedback. See, if we ask for feedback, we’ve got to believe what we are told. Then our job is to reflect on it, accept it, and then grow from there.

    Moving Forward with a Greater Awareness of Who You Really Are

    Now, having this greater awareness of ourselves, how then will we continue being? What adjustments might be wanting in our attitudes, actions, or attention? By becoming more self-aware, we learn to lead ourselves better and everyone around us benefits as well. Go ask the question, “What’s it like being on the other side of me?” Let’s level up!

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    Grace Leadership Institute is located in Erie, Pennsylvania, and is one of the region’s best resources for leadership development and forming connections with other local leaders. Consider joining us at an upcoming Leadership One Day! We’d love to see you there.