Last week I had the opportunity to speak at our weekly men's gathering. About 150 to 200 of us have been working on spiritual disciplines that last six weeks, my topic was reflection. Here are a few things from 1 Timothy 4:6-16 that I think are relevant for any leader.
Reflection is the glue that holds the disciplines together and makes them a way of life. Paul told Timothy that physical training has some value but godliness has value for all things. If you've every trained for a marathon or been around someone who has, you know that the training is far more than the time spent running. It involves hydration, diet, rest, mental preparation, and even social interaction all day long. Most of us do this already, we just spend the time thinking about how to achieve our next promotion, improve relationships or what our favorite sports team needs to do to win. What if that reflection time defaulted to thinking about who we are compared to who we want to be? The other disciplines help us see these. Reflection helps us execute on them.
We reflect to make the difference God made us to make. Paul told Timothy to set an example for people in how he lived and to use his gifts to make a difference the way he was designed to make an impact. It is too small a thing to live right and use your talents and gifts just for you. All of us are examples to others in our lives whether we want to be or not. I've learned that to be an example you have to have one. If you're going to influence others well, have a clear image of the person you want to be in 15-20 years. Then work little by little every day to become that person.
We reflect by keeping a close watch on ourselves. Don't let any experience or relationship go to waste. Take the time to reflect on them. I do this by spending daily time reading the Bible, praying, and writing down my insights related to that day and then highlighting the key thought (I use Google docs). Writing helps me pinpoint how to live out eternal wisdom found in scripture. Through the years I've developed a habit on the last week or two of the year, of going back through the year, listing 4-7 insights per month and then compiling them into 3-5 best insights and/or areas I need to grow in as a leader from the year.
You've probably heard this before:
Sow a thought, reap an act.
Sow an act, reap a habit.
Sow a habit, reap a character.
Sow a character, reap a destiny.
Everything starts with your thinking. Think well. Act right. Again and again. That's your identity that people will remember. Now you know the process, start (or continue) today to become the man or woman God made you to be!