Unexpected Parts of Purpose
As we search for a deeper connection with purpose we can find ourselves forgetting that a portion of that journey will require elements that are, shall we say, less desirable, less glamorous. Purpose is not a destination where we arrive to discover zero problems with never a confrontation or issue to address. In an effort to gain a clear understanding of our purpose we need to readily accept at least two unexpected parts of purpose we generally loath: Meetings and Difficult Conversations.
How many times have you rolled your eyes at yet another meeting request landing in your inbox? Granted, every company or organization should aim for fewer/more effective meetings, but if we are honest, sometimes meetings feel more like a chore and less like a necessary part of navigating our purpose. As you connect with purpose you will most likely find yourself being asked to meet or organize a team, leaving less room for yourself. These moments will be critical for communication, reminders, alignment, and focus. Even those “this could have been an email” meetings might provide an opportunity for synergy or a deeper connection with your team. If your purpose finds you needing to set and reach goals, delegate tasks, follow- up on essential items, you will need to have meetings.
I found myself complaining about “yet another meeting” landing on my calendar and I happened to be in the company of a local bank President and CEO. He smiled and humored my whining as he shared this insight, “I used to feel the same way about meetings. I could not stand how my calendar filled up week after week, but then I realized that part of my purpose was to have and attend meetings.” Realizing his role as a leader in his organization, and that a portion of his purpose required meetings, shifted his outlook. When we understand that to gather people to accomplish a task or sustain an organization will require conversations (i.e. meetings), and that those conversations are woven within our own journey through purpose, maybe meetings aren’t so bad.
Do you find yourself complaining about meetings? Can you search to see the way these moments fit into your purpose? Perhaps God wants to show up in your next meeting. Leave space for Him to move, and to reveal to you a glimpse of how no moment, or meeting, is wasted.
“Ministry is often a never ending series of difficult conversations,” said John McLendon, Senior Pastor, Northeast Church.
There are the rare personality types that appear to enjoy conflict; however, it would be a stretch, even for those types, to say they enjoy difficult conversations. Having to correct, rebuke, terminate, or hold accountable people that you lead or serve with can be painful. That’s probably why most of us avoid difficult dialogues. We pass the responsibility along, allowing a problem to move on for someone else to deal with. We kick the conversation-can down the road, hoping, somehow it will disappear. We create steep pain curves for both ourselves, our team members and our organizations overall when we delay or avoid difficult conversations.
As you journey through your purpose, it might be fair to say difficult scenarios are par for the course, perhaps even indicators your purpose has value–something to offer the world that forces seem to push against. Difficult conversations should be expected, practiced, and graciously received if you intend to walk in your purpose.
As a young pastor I found myself leading volunteers. As humans, these volunteers did not always operate the way I hoped. We would encounter scenarios where a difficult conversation was necessary for their benefit and for those they served and led. Naturally, I clearly, quickly, and with perfect skill addressed the issues and they were beautifully resolved. Not at all. I did what most of us do. I awkwardly smiled when learning about the situation, inwardly panicked, and quickly found someone to vent to. I happened to stumble into my senior pastor’s office having avoided a difficult conversation, and he posed a question: “What is ministry?” I was pretty sure Jesus, love, grace, servanthood, these would be a key features in a definition of ministry, but I was also pretty sure it was a rhetorical question. “Ministry is often a never ending series of difficult conversations.”
Loving people well will require difficult conversations. And engaging people as a part of unfolding your purpose will require loving people well. We don’t often connect our individual purpose and dealing with others, but God has designed very little we can accomplish alone. Our purpose, while a unique story written for just you and God, has a cast of characters, and most likely, a few very difficult characters, that will make things difficult, and require difficult conversations.
Next time you have the opportunity to have a difficult conversation take a moment to see how God might be weaving this necessary part of leadership into your purpose.