What do you do when you are in a life season when your dreams, anointing, and strength zones are disconnected from your job or assignment? If you cannot engage you passions and strength zones should you quit? How do you know when its time to change jobs or locations? We explore four necessary seasons of life. In some seasons you keep pressing through and in other seasons its time to go forward, change your situation, and focus on your strengths. We will explore this journey in this episode of Calibrate Life.
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How Will I Know When Its Time To Quit?
Last week, in episode 030, we talked about living and leading from our strength zone. A listener asked a question, “I want to operate in my strength zone, I know my strength zone, but my present circumstances do not allow me to operate in my strength zone. What do you do when you are in a situation in which you cannot operate in your strength zone?”
We’ve all been there. It is a season of the tyranny of the urgent. It is a life season when we face the incongruence of our day-to-day engagement and our dreams, anointing, and strength zones. It is a rare occurrence, and one that usually only happens later in life, when we can put 100% of our time into our strength zone and focus only on the things for which we are passionate. There are always administrative tasks, housekeeping tasks, tactical arrangements, etc.; but, what we want to focus on in this episode is when our dreams, our strengths, and our passions are muted and we are in a season of working in an arena where we are not fulfilling the core of our mission.
Many years ago I was at a crossroads, a pivot point as I like to call them. I was full of dreams and vision and anointing. I was finding success in what I was doing, but I was working for low wages, lower than was needful according to the balance sheet of the organization, and I was living in a “parsonage” (a church owned property). I was working hard and my leader, organization, and its people were being blessed. I was awakened in the night with a story running across my brain from Genesis, chapter 30. It was a story of two men named Laban and Jacob. The words, “when may I do something for my own household” surfaced in my mind.
I got up, grabbed my bible, went to the bathroom and turned on the light and found the scripture. The message to me was, “David, it is time to do something for your own household.” I set a plan of action and approached my leader. I was willing to move on, I was willing to stay, but what was non-negotiable to me in that circumstance was the need to start building equity in a house. If I could not do that where I was, I sincerely, loyally, and quietly needed to take my anointing and gifts elsewhere. It was a season that simply required a response.
There are times when what we must contend for are far greater than material provision. The dreams, anointing, calling, and mission that ignites our passions must be contended for. There are seasons of preparation, seasons of learning humility and following, seasons of serving, seasons designed to build our faith, and there are seasons when we have to boldly step out, move forward and apply our calling and anointing to the fulfillment of our core calling and mission.
How do you know the difference? How do you know when the season demands growth, humility, preparation, and serving? How do you know when the season divinely demands a rearranging of the circumstances to stay true to your strengths and core mission?
Using some of the lessons learned in the Jacob and Laban scenario (Genesis 30), we want to look at this from two perspectives. First, the perspective of the leader (Laban) and second, from the perspective of the one pursuing their strength zone (Jacob).
Background: The Story
Jacob was Abraham’s grandson. Abraham was the man God called out to leave his homeland with the mission of becoming the father of God’s nation. This legacy was passed down to his son, Isaac, and then to his grandson Jacob. Jacob felt this legacy and calling of becoming the father of God’s nation. He felt the promise of his offspring being countless and their becoming the nation of the future of the earth that would have a central role in redemption and reconciliation of humankind to God, a lofty calling.
Through a series of events, Jacob finds himself working for Laban, a relative. One thing that makes this story unique and that skews the lessons of how we lead and follow, is that both Jacob and Laban had integrity and character deficiencies. We need to keep that in mind.
Jacob was gifted by God, anointed by God to be the father of a nation. There was a lot in Jacob. Those gifts manifested themselves wherever he went. He had strengths. His strengths and gifts were a great blessing to Laban. Jacob, serving as a shepherd, greatly increased Laban’s flock and wealth.
When you have a mission, a call of God that ignites a passion within you, gifts come along with that calling. Those gifts and that anointing becomes increasingly evident. They can be applied in many ways and in many places.
Laban was benefitting from Jacobs gifts, but Jacob was not advancing the mission of God for which the gifts were designed. At first, that was fine because Jacob had a lot of learning to do. He was in the right place to experience the right things. He was employed in honorable employment and he was demonstrating faithfulness and growing in character.
Sometimes we are not operating in the fullness of our “strength zone” because we are not in a season that makes it possible.
[shareable]Sometimes we are not operating in the fullness of our “strength zone” because we are not in a season that makes it possible.[/shareable]
From the Perspective of the Leader: Don’t be a “Laban” [12:38]
Recognize the anointing and the gifts of the people you lead and love. [13:03]
The people you lead and love bring something to the table. You need to recognize the success that their presence brings, appreciate it, and help them develop. As a transformational leader, whether you are a pastor leading a staff or a business person generating a profit, the people God places in our lives are there for a reason. They are in a season of discovery and growth. It may be that they will be with you forever, or it may be that you are placed in their lives for a season to help them fulfill a unique calling that will fully utilize their strength zone.
Release Those You Love and Lead to Find Some Satisfaction by Employing Their Strength Zone [14:59]
It isn’t always possible, and it really goes to the fit of the person to the ministry or task, but understand the strength zone of those you lead and love. Can you help them adjust their responsibilities to give them some measure of fulfillment in what they do?
I have two administrative employees who are hired to do administrative tasks. Each of them have unique skills, gifts, and passions. I’ve recognized that if I can give them some opportunity to develop their gifts and employ their passions in the execution of their administrative tasks that they gain a sense of fulfillment that causes them to rise to the next level. In fact, by helping them find some missionary fulfillment through their assigned tasks, they are of immensely more value to the mission than they would be otherwise. I know this isn’t always possible, and again, that goes to the fit of the person to the job, but as leaders, it really is our responsibility to be concerned and look for possible convergence points.
Make Sure Their Gifts Are Also Producing for Them [17:50]
There is an Old Testament scripture quoted in the New Testament, which makes it especially important to take not of, “Don’t muzzle the ox that treads out the grain.” In other words, if a person is producing a lot they need to be rewarded accordingly.
When you have people who are mission critical, can you make them stakeholders in some way? High capacity leaders critical to the mission will not stay with you unless (1) they can become stakeholders or (2) they can fulfill what their passions demand them to fulfill (operating in their strength zone).
The other side of this equation, and one that must surface is risk demands greater reward. Jacob had to take on risk. Jacob devised a plan of compensation that was a win win for Laban. Laban got Jacobs gifts, Jacob got all of the spotted sheep. If there were no spotted sheep, Jacob got nothing. He was willing to take that risk.
People can only become stakeholders if they share the risk. Call it faith, risk, whatever, for Jacob to reap the rewards of his gift and fulfill his dream he had to share risk.
[shareable]People can only become stakeholders if they share the risk[/shareable]
So, as a transformational and spiritual leader, we must pay attention to the strength zones, the passions, the calling, the dreams, the purposes of those we lead and love and do our best to facilitate it. Everyone is unique. Everyone has a unique focus and purpose. Some team members are called of God to be on the team and support whatever vision you send down the pike. Others have things in them that must find expression. Both are necessary to the team It’s up to the leader to seek the wisdom and insight to justly lead.
One more thing, as a leader I’ve had to help a few team members to move on because the greatness of what was in their hearts could no longer be contained it the situation they were in.
From the Perspective of the Steward: Jacob’s Journey [22:46]
When we’ve been given a strength zone or an anointing for a mission, we must steward those gifts, we must protect them. When we have a dream, a legacy, a mission, a reason for being we must steward the journey.
We must have a convergence of our situations and what is inside us; the path and the timing, and how that is going to play out.
Our question: What do we do when we are unable to operate in our strength zone or passions? What do we do when the job we are in, one that we know is right for us in this season, does not give opportunity or room for the core of our calling? Does that mean we should leave? Does it mean we should demand that we be able to do something for our own household?
There are at least four different seasons in life and the seasons govern our responses. You must understand the season you are in to make appropriate responses.
The Season of Learning and Developing Skill Sets and Experiences [23:41]
You have to know the backend of everything before you can lead. You may be in a season of learning how to follow, because you cannot lead until you can follow. You may be in a season of honing your skill sets. You may be in a season of gathering experiences that will actually re-shape your passions in needful ways.
The Season of Learning to Be Content and Pressing Through the Tough Stuff [24:56]
I was a machine. I was always out front. I had autonomy in leadership though I was under authority because I was aggressive, I was out there, I was cutting new paths, developing new systems. I ran free and fast. Then, my world crashed and crumbled around me. I could not write, focus, or even think for two years. I plunged into a season of picking up pieces and learning that they would never fit back together.
Sometimes we are to simply be thankful we are in the right place at the right time in God’s timing. What if I had started something new or launched out and taken a lot of risks in mid 2012 and then my crash came?
Sometimes we want to run like a wild stallion, but the timing isn’t right. Other times, it is time. We have to learn how to press through some tough stuff before we are ready for our greatest calling and tasks. I am sorry to disappoint you. You are going to press through times when you get to do NOTHING you want to do. Yeah, I know you don’t want to hear it, but you are developing character and integrity.
It is not until you can press beyond the agitation and anger of being led around and unable to do the things in your heart that you want to do your way, those things you are convinced you are ready for and you are incensed that no one will release you… you are not ready to move into the fulfillment of your dream on God’s terms until you can press through the anger and resentment of some tough stuff.
I do not know where this is written and I do not know if it is common knowledge, but we’ve found that you have to learn to be content where you are before other doors open. It is God’s way of protecting us from the self-destruction that a lack of character and integrity will bring.
The Season of Raft Building [28:32]
Before you jump off of the ocean liner you’ve been riding on, make sure you at least have a raft. Jacob’s season of realizing the possibilities of the rising dream in him brought him to a season of preparation and prompted him to ask the question, “When may I do something for my own household.” Jacob started building a raft. Having proven himself faithful, Jacob became a stakeholder.
You have to be willing to take risks to build out the next leg of your journey. You might have to do stuff that you don’t get paid to do. You might have to strike an agreement that is one-sided and makes you work smarter and harder before you can become a stakeholder.
In no economy, nor in any season of life are you entitled… to anything. The only thing to which you are entitled are the things to which you hold the title.
[shareable]The only thing to which you are entitled are the things to which you hold the title.[/shareable]
You aren’t going to have a boat until you build a raft and float away. Or, perhaps you are supposed to just stay on the boat you are already on. The determining factor is your calling, your dreams, and your passion.
The season of raft building is a pre-requisite to sailing away on your own.
The Season of Going [30:42]
For Jacob, in Genesis 31, the day came when God simply said to him, “It’s time for you to go.” Jacob could not fulfill his calling, he could not dive into his core strengths, he could not fulfill his mission unless he returned to the land where his calling would be fulfilled.
A dear friend of mine used to say to restless leaders, “The focus has to be on going, not on leaving.” When we “leave” we are running away from something we don’t want to deal with any longer. When we “leave” we are running away from tough stuff and frustrations that have to be worked through. When you “leave” you will meet the same problems in the next place you go… because you are the problem. But when you “go” you are moving toward something. You are not bitter about what you are moving away from, in fact, you are thankful. When you “go” you are following a path you MUST follow.
Sometimes you have to “go”. Your dreams demand it. Your calling and your mission demand it. Your passions demand it.
How do you know when you arrive at the “going” season. “Going” can mean stepping into a new role without moving to a new place. “Going” can mean an adjustment of portfolio that more closely aligns with your strength zone. “Going” means stepping into your strengths, passions, and calling.
Holy discontent. A phrase I picked up from Bill Hybels book, Holy Discontent. There is a difference between discontent and holy discontent. Wait for holy discontent. Holy discontent isdivine, it is when you simply cannot stay where you are. It is when you simply cannot ignore an injustice. It is when you can no longer do what you are doing because you have a divine passion ignited in you that will not go away. A holy discontent always looks forward, it is always about “going”, it is always something you MUST do.
Calibration Points… Calibrating Your Life and Lifting Those You Love and Lead [34:03]
As a leader…
- Are you engaging those you lead and love in a their passions? Is that possible? If it isn’t possible, what is your next step?
- How can you find out the passions and strengths of those you lead and love?
- What two or three steps can you take to help those you lead and love to come closer to focusing on their strength zones and passions?
As one on the journey…
- What season are you in? How are you managing your present situation? Are you content, discontent, or coming to a place of holy discontent?
- Do you need to make some adjustments to your present circumstance to stay on mission?
- Considering your present season, do you have a sense of how to build a bridge from the season you are in to the next season? List a few things you would like to see happen to move you toward your next season of life.
- What are some things you need to embrace and learn from in your present situation? List three?
- Are you acting with full integrity and character in your present situation, especially if you are unable to operate in your strength zones? What are a few adjustments you need to make?
- If you are in a season of holy discontent, state how you will keep your attitude right and your character intact as you transition toward your passions and strengths.
- If you are right where you are supposed to be, how can you help others around you embrace their season?
It can take decades to progress through these seasons. When you think you cannot wait, when you try to circumvent the development of leadership passions, it creates a “hope deferred” and a deferred hope makes the heart sick (Proverbs [13:12]). You have to live in contentment until you reach the point of holy discontent and when you reach that point, you must simply muster boldness, put some pitch on your raft, and jump overboard. Period. That’s it.