If I don’t attend to my character; of building a habit of careful thought and choices made in the context of love and grace, my gifts also get neglected and becomes unfruitful.
Narratives help me make sense of things, so I’m going to reference the film How to Train Your Dragon. The protagonist Hiccup aspires to follow his tribe’s tradition of becoming a dragon slayer. After finally capturing his first dragon, and with his chance of at last gaining the tribe’s acceptance, he finds that he no longer wants to kill it and instead befriends it instead. His patience, perseverance and friendship with this dragon earns him respect from his tribe, which ultimately transforms the way they live: in harmony instead of conflict.
Hiccup’s character talks to me of how gentleness and patience – with his captured dragon – eventually won him respect and trust from not only the dragon, but also his whole community. His endurance and determination paid off because he believed he was doing something worthwhile, something that could change perceptions, something that could shift culture. At work I need Hiccup’s gentleness, patience and sense of vision and the belief that it will be worth it and potentially culture-changing. He may have captured the dragon, but his careful thought, choices and courage are what led him to achieve something greater and longer lasting than what he had planned.
This can be a bit like our journey with God and discovering our gift with Him: our God-given gift comes into true fruition and can have a meaningful impact with more careful thought, choice and courage.
Recently I have changed jobs and found it more challenging than I thought to adjust to a new office culture, new students and a new environment. It has forced me to reflect on my personality, the way I communicate with people, the way I receive feedback, the way I interact with students, the way I talk – all things that are an overflow of my character because they reflect who I am.
Who I am feeds into how I behave and what I do in all areas of work. If I don’t attend to my character – of building a habit of careful thought and choices made in the context of love and grace – my gift of teaching and interacting with young people also gets neglected and becomes unfruitful, as I try to use it in my own strength, rather than practicing it out of being in communion with the Father. When I’m in the habit of adoring Him daily – I literally would call out names of God out loud in the car for two minutes, which feels awkward at first but it causes my heart to be more connected to His than it would be otherwise – when that habit was built, colleagues notice an unusual calm and strength in me that only pointed to Jesus.
Increasingly I’m challenged to spend more time in Father’s presence in this way: adoring Him and allowing myself to be adored. Once I know that I’m adored by Him, I will exude acceptance and fearlessness because everything I do is for His eyes and not for the approval of the world – isn’t that easier said than done! Isaiah 54:17 says that we have the heritage of the Lord; peace, righteousness, security, triumph over opposition are ours, simply because we are adored children of the Lord. No weapon – our own disbelief, lies, office jokes, swearing students – to name some of mine – will prosper because I am a beloved child of God. My duty is to consistently act out of that place so that miraculously, others might also encounter His heart of love.
So brothers and sisters, may patience, careful thoughts, persistent good choices and courage become your habits, so that who you are transforms the way you work and ultimately transforms the spheres you inhabit.
PUBLIC LEADERSHIP TAKEOVER! All this week we’re featuring articles about public leadership, which is leadership in politics, media, business, education or the arts, any area outside the Church where leadership is needed and where Christians can step up and be a voice for good.
There are two weekends in 2016 to connect, encourage and equip public leaders aged 18-35: 18-20 March in Staffordshire and 15-17 April in Northern Ireland. To find out more and how to apply head to www.thepublicleader.com/gathering