This month’s To The Point has been adapted from Arrow President, Dr. Steve Brown’s new book, Leading Me – Eight Practices for a Christian Leader’s Most Important Assignment – www.leadingmebook.com
What’s the greatest contribution you can make to God’s mission? How can you leverage your impact in this life?
One practical step you can take to answer these questions is to get a clearer picture of how God has wired and shaped you. The goal of doing this self-analysis is neither an inflated sense of self nor false humility. Instead, a healthy self-awareness of strengths can focus you to make your maximum contribution.
My coach suggests a simple but profound tool to help. Surprisingly, the tool involves tic-tac-toe. Here’s how it works:
Step 1 – Draw a tic-tac-toe grid on a blank piece of paper.
Step 2 – Fill each of the nine empty boxes with a word or phrase that describes you at your best as it relates to serving, working and doing. Don’t worry about the order of what words go in which box. These nine words or phrases should describe your best contribution through what you already know (not what you desire or hope) about your passion, skills, abilities, gifts, experiences, and optimal environment. If you need help, ask a trusted friend or two.
Now, take a step back. What do you see? You should see a fairly descriptive picture of you at your best, for your maximum impact, your greatest contribution, and your most effective service.
The combination of these nine words is unique to you at this stage of your life. Ten years ago some of the words would have been very different and you can anticipate that ten years from now the list will be different too.
When I reflect on my list, I can see that some words may be more important than others. God may have worked some of these words into my life long ago and some more recently. The community of God’s people have affirmed these words over time as priorities for my life. However, as with all things, God has the ultimate veto and direction in my life. He can change these words as he shapes me and calls me.
To apply this simple tool, you can compare each of your nine boxes against your current setting for service. To do this, get three colored pencils or pens—red, yellow and green. As you compare each ideal box to your current setting, circle it with the corresponding color. Red is for a poor match. In other words, you aren’t really able to live this out in your current context. Yellow isn’t ideal but is okay or has possibility for improvement. Green isn’t perfection but it means that you are able to live this out regularly in your context.
Note – it’s unlikely that all nine of your boxes will be “green” all the time. There are also some aspects of every role that we just need to embrace and do. However, if a majority of these boxes are not green most of the time, you will very likely experience frustration, stress and fatigue. If this is your situation, you can reflect on what you can change about your context.
Is there anything you can do that will allow you to spend more time working from these nine words? Can some activities be stopped or delegated? Can you better prioritize and guard some of these words? How could your supervisor help you leverage more of you at your best?
By the way, this same tic-tac-toe tool can be very helpful filter when you are discerning a new work opportunity. Is there good congruency between this new role and you at your best? Similarly, you can use this tool when you are adding a new team member. Does the candidate demonstrate “green” for each of the role’s nine boxes?
What step can you take to be closer to serving at your best today? How could you help someone else serve more at their best?
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
To The Point,
Dr. Steve A. Brown
To order your copy of Leading Me – Eight Practices for a Christian Leader’s Most Important Assignment, click here.