November 14th, 2013

Personal Clarity First

toddmcmichenThis year I have spent reading, re-reading, and reading again the thoughts of Brother Lawrence recorded in “Practicing The Presence of God.” It’s a short work; actually, it is four short conversations containing principles he practiced. Brother Lawrence was born poor, uneducated, and lacked acceptance by society. He joined the military to have a roof and some food. Then he was wounded and discharged. He received what he termed a supernatural experience of personal clarity from God at the age of 18. It involved something as simple as a leafless tree in the winter. It appeared to lack purpose, meaning, and life. It could not provide shade, produce fruit, or safely cradle a bird’s nest. Yet, the tree was fulfilling its God-given purpose in its season. Even still it contained real life to be expressed in a different way on a different day in a different season. This image spoke directly to Brother Lawrence about his life and God’s powerful purposes.

I have been in ministry for nearly 30 years and have lost my way many times. As a teen when I experienced “the call”, my passion and focus were clear. Then, I began working for the local church and my vision became clouded by things like ministry activities,  people’s expectations, and my own insecurities. I am thankful for the repeated experiences to draw me back to my anchor, a powerful sense of clear calling.

My daughter is a senior in high school. She is on the journey to discover herself and God’s plan for her life. As she pursues colleges and fields of study it has been a frustrating experience of sequential “No’s.” As she hones in on her life direction she recently volunteered at a leading children’s hospital. At the end of the day, she came home and said, “I have clarity.” What peace and affirmation it produced.

I have now been a ministry leadership coach for the past 13 years and a lack of personal clarity is one of the most significant challenges ministry leaders face. Information is overwhelming, new models, and extravagant stories are being churned out on a regular bases. What should be liberating, can quickly become confusing, defeating, and depressing.

There is real freedom, joy, and power in discovering personal clarity. Try starting there before you attempt a great vision for your ministry. You can find a ministry vision easily enough, but it won’t produce personal fulfillment or even the joy of obediently investing your life.

Clarity Thoughts:

– Think of the yearly seasons (winter, spring, summer, and fall). Which season most represents where you are today? Describe the season, its purpose, and how you can better fulfill God’s dream in this season.

– Make a list of your unique strengths, passions, gifts, and experiences. How much of your life is oriented for you to perform in your zone?

– If you were given the privilege of living for the kingdom calling without the weight of daily duties, personal insecurities, or expectations of others, what would be different about your week?

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