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It’s critical to give thought to your ways and where you are headed.

On October 25, 1999, a twin-engine Learjet taxied down the runway in Orlando on its way to Dallas, Texas. Over Gainesville, Florida the plane should have made a left turn and headed toward Texas. But it veered off course toward South Dakota.

Repeated attempts to contact the pilots were met with a deafening silence. Five fighter planes were dispatched to go up and make visual contact with the runaway jet.

Two F-16’s finally were able to pull within fifty feet of the Learjet. The pilots reported they were unable to see inside because its windows were iced over. The plane flew on autopilot for fourteen hundred miles, over a period of four hours, and finally crashed into a grassy field at six hundred miles an hour.

All six passengers were killed—the most famous being professional golfer Payne Stewart. 

It was a bizarre and tragic event. 

Suppose for a moment you had been standing on the ground as the plane flew overhead in the clear autumn sky. It’s traveling fast and straight, and as far you know it’s on course. The reality, though, is that something was desperately wrong on the inside, and it was headed for disaster.

Many pastors and ministry leaders soar through life at breakneck speed.

They give every outward appearance of being on course, cruising on autopilot. To the onlooker it seems they have it all together, but on the inside there is a crisis brewing. In spite of appearances, they are on a collision course with disaster.

I love this verse because it reminds us of one of the crying needs of pastors today. Solomon said, 

“The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.” (Proverbs 14:8 NIV) 

Pastors, it’s critical to give thought to your ways and where you are headed.

Pastors, it’s critical to give thought to your ways and where you are headed. Click To Tweet

Where are you headed?

Most every church or parachurch ministry I know of will take a couple of days annually to retreat and talk about plans for the future. Goals are established, initiatives are considered, resourcing is allocated, and course corrections are made. These leadership gatherings are crucial for the future effectiveness of the ministry.

It is just as important to do this on a personal level. 

The focus of my living must precede my leading. Click To Tweet

As a leader I must regularly pull back from the daily grind and give thought to “my ways”— particularly the ways of my soul. 

My first calling is not to pay attention to the ways of the organization or the ways of the staff, but rather to my ways.  How I am paying attention to my soul will always inform how I pastor. The focus of my living must precede my leading.  

If you could plot the trajectory of your soul—your inner life—where is it headed? If your soul stays on the path its on, where will it be five or 10 years from now? Twenty years from now? 

If you could plot the trajectory of your soul—your inner life—where is it headed? If your soul stays on the path its on, where will it be five or 10 years from now? Twenty years from now? Click To Tweet

After you are finished pastoring and you have handed over your role to someone else, what will you be left with? Where you end up then is largely determined by how well you manage what’s going on inside you now.

A lot of ministry leaders I know are “dead people running.” They’re a flurry of activity, and they’re working hard. But on the inside they’re empty and joyless. Their trajectory has them flying toward burnout and disillusionment.

A lot of ministry leaders I know are “dead people running.” They’re a flurry of activity, and they’re working hard. But on the inside they’re empty and joyless. Their trajectory has them flying toward burnout and disillusionment. Click To Tweet

As Andy Stanley says, Direction, not intention, determines our destination. 

What I often fail to realize is that my life is on a path (direction) headed to a destination. What I am doing today was shaped by what I did yesterday. Who I become tomorrow will be informed by what I do today. And I am writing a scene now that will influence the final scene.

How are you really doing?

As you begin 2020, let me encourage you to spend some time reflecting on the trajectory of your soul.  Start by considering these questions…

  • How connected do you feel to Jesus these days?
  • Does your spiritual life feel alive and vibrant?
  • How would you describe your emotional health?
  • What would it look like practically to live and lead from a healthy soul?

After you look inward, assessing how well you’re investing in your personal health, ask yourself this question:

How are we doing as a team? 

To lead an effective ministry, it’s vital to focus on not only producing results, but also on the health of your team.

Your team is the most valuable asset you have in making progress toward your vision. Investing in your team, which includes yourself, is one of the most strategic decisions you can make. 

That’s why we developed the Unstuck Teams Process—we want to help your team thrive so more people can come to know Jesus. 

The process helps you build and lead a high-impact team, with strength in six key areas of staff performance and health. Learn how it works

Interested in starting a conversation about what it would look like to partner with our team? Let’s talk.

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