What is the Mystery Between Positive Leadership Development and Vibrant Spiritual Pathways? (Survey also)
From experience, you know long-term leadership success that survives chaos and constant change, requires proactive self-care.
Yet, in the pressure of leading, proactive self-care seems elusive and a mystery.
Part 2 of my leadership development book, Millennials Matter: Proven Strategies for Building Your Next Gen Leader, is entitled, Practice Proactive Self-Care. It’s my hope that these five chapters provide a way for leaders to get a firmer grasp of this leadership strategy, and to de-mystify:
- Proactive Self-Care and Leadership
- Break the Chains of Negative Thinking
- Deal with Your Dark Side
- Set Goals to Fuel Energy
- Establish a Rest Rythm
Today’s chaos and fear culture, attacks you in every area of your life – spiritually, relationally, physically, intellectually, and financially. As a leader, you need a special brand of courage, and dare I say it may feel like a mystery, to develop a healthy root system so that you can expand your leadership influence in the midst of these attacks.
Yes, it’s important to take care of what’s on the outside, but, more importantly, you need to take care of what’s on the inside. A healthy root system develops when proactive self-care and awareness intersect. That is the place where we live fruitful lives and the place where courage is born.
Awareness Defines your Core Leadership Values
One of the characteristics I’ve noticed in leaders who model strong moral and character leadership and have a positive influence is that they pay acute attention to what’s happening in their internal world – they are both proactive and have personal awareness. They:
- maintain steadfast attention to their core values,
- exude humble confidence in all situations,
- take a learning stance on their self-improvement efforts, and,
- receive criticism and turn it into constructive action.
In the midst of a stressful, high-speed, disruptive culture, these leaders still prioritize time to listen to themselves and to listen to God, while disconnecting from the constant pressures of the world. From this intentional space and quiet place, they gain internal strength and stability. It is from a similar place that we find the capacity to raise up other leaders.
So, what are the proactive self-care practices that might assist you to develop a strong internal core? It’s all in the roots…
A Healthy Root System Feeds your Leadership Capacity
A healthy root system is vital to a tree’s survival. The roots actively seek out the water, oxygen, and nutrients needed for a tree to grow, be stable enough to withstand tornado-force winds and reproduce with seeds and fruit. None of this happens without an active root system. The same is true for you.
Without a strong and wide root system, you might end up stressed, burned out, and exhausted. Then it’s difficult, if not impossible, to expand your leadership influence and make a positive impact in the world.
Proactive Self-Care Expands Your Leadership Influence
In Millennials Matter, I define “proactive self-care” as a personal initiative that prioritizes developing a healthy root system that fosters character growth and expands your leadership influence.
In the chapter, “Establish a Rest Rhythm,” I suggest that recognizing your personal spiritual pathway, is one of the steps you can take to strengthen your inner being.
God has crafted you uniquely; therefore, it seems reasonable that you have a distinctive pattern in how you strengthen yourself mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and how you communicate with him.
Discover your Preferred Spiritual Pathway through Awareness
In Millennials Matter, Proven Strategies for Building Your Next-Gen Leaders, and Letters From The King, A Devotional Parable Of Spiritual Discovery For Working Women, I include a survey that you can use to help figure out, based on your unique wiring, which spiritual pathways work best for you. I invite you to answer these questions, and then work through the Spiritual Pathway Reflection Questions at the bottom.
Important Note: The questions in this survey aren’t a reflection of your level of “holiness!” Most people follow more than one pathway, and there isn’t one Spiritual Pathway that is “better” than the other! This is a simple exercise to help you understand how you connect with your unique inner self, and how you use that awareness to communicate with God. This survey might also spark new ways of connecting with God that you didn’t realize will appeal to you.
Instruction: On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being “this works best for me,” and 1 being “this does not work for me at all!”) rate yourself to increase your awareness of your preferred, and other potential spiritual pathways. (Adapted from God Is Closer Than You Think, by John Ortberg)
Intellectual Pathway (Matthew 22:37)
I connect with God through the Intellectual Pathway because I:
- enjoy in-depth teaching about God and the Bible;
- study scripture, using concordances and other resources;
- attend lectures by Biblical scholars when possible.
Relationship Pathway (Acts 2:42-47)
I feel God’s presence best when I’m in a deep relationship with other Christian believers. Some of the ways in which I follow the Relationship Pathway include:
- attending local church services;
- being part of a small group;
- participating in community experiences.
Serving Pathway (Matt. 25:45)
I choose the Serving Pathway to feel God’s presence in my life, because:
- helping others comes naturally to me;
- serving others helps me feel fulfilled;
- attending to the physical needs of others is energizing.
Worship Pathway (Ps. 122:1)
I choose the Worship Pathway to connect with God because I enjoy the following:
- praise and worship singing;
- praying and singing with others;
- giving God glory and honor on a regular basis.
Activist Pathway (Micah 6:8)
I’m passionate to be involved through action, therefore I choose the Activist Pathway. This path suits my spirituality best because I am:
- energizing with a high level of enthusiasm;
- stimulated by challenges;
- flourishing when I’m involved in causes that lead to transformation and social justice.
Contemplation Pathway (Is. 26:3)
I prefer the Contemplation Pathway. God is most present to me when I:
- remove distractions and have uninterrupted time alone;
- include images and metaphors to help me pray;
- listen to God in silence and solitude.
Creation Pathway (Psalm 19:1)
I follow the Creation Pathway because I feel God’s presence through nature. I enjoy:
- walking in the mountains or at the lakeside for communion with God;
- church camping and outdoor events;
- riding on a bicycle or motorcycle through the great outdoors.
Spiritual Pathway Reflection Questions
Feel free to reflect on these questions, or your own, as you craft your Spiritual Pathway in the future.
1. When you review your survey results, were you surprised? If yes, why?
2. Do you think your personality (for example, introvert/extrovert) makes it difficult/impossible for you to follow one or more of these spiritual pathways?
3. How does your preferred spiritual pathway help you get clarity on dealing with your challenges?
4. How do you use your preferred spiritual pathway to stay focused on your passion and purpose?
5. How might you gain clarity on your personal vision, values, and virtues while practicing your preferred spiritual pathway?
Guard Your Heart to Become a Leader of Character and Impact
No one spiritual pathway will miraculously take away all your challenges! However, it can help you to establish a healthy rhythm so that you strengthen your inner being. The wise King Solomon said: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” In these difficult times, it is critical to guard our hearts against fear and chaos and to build a courageous spirit.
Proactive self-care combined with finding a spiritual pathway that works for you will enable you to resolve feelings of conflict and become a leader of character who can deal with and grow from any setback. When your courageous character core is rooted in fertile soil, you will be able to withstand fear, chaos, and disruption in all areas of your life.
I hope this survey and reflection questions will help you determine the best spiritual pathway that allows you to proactively nurture your roots and take good care of yourself.
For more insights, I invite you to also read my article series on creating your personal Vision, Values, and Virtues statements, here.