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Slowing Down to Lead with Integrity Pt. 1

Slowing Down to Lead with Integrity Pt. 1

Have you ever felt like you need to get a job fully completed before you can relax?  More and more I’m realizing how much I have attached permission to rest with whether or not all of my goals have been accomplished.

I am a Cleaning Machine

A great example happened a few weeks ago when I decided to clean out our garage on a Saturday.  You know how it goes, the garage once intended to house your vehicles has now become the dumping ground for everything inside and outside the home that doesn’t have a place.  So I set my alarm for an early morning, got up and dove in full-bore.  My goal was to take a legitimate three day project and tackle it in one clean sweep.

For years now, I’ve prided myself on never leaving anything partially completed.  So, in about 12 hours I banged out the garage.  It was done, and things were good… except during my whirlwind of a day, like a madman caught up in his great vision, I failed to tend to some other important things like:

  • Spend time with my kids who throughout the day were continually asking me to stop and play.
  • Take a break to eat or even to take a drink.
  • Listen to the aches and pains of an out-of-shape body telling me to be careful.
  • Give meaningful attention to my wife or kids when they came to talk about something.
  • Recognize that the day had quickly slipped away and I was working into the night.

The job was done, but at what cost?  I’ve found that my drive to finish or accomplish often leads me to live a hurried life disconnected from my limits and detached from the people around me.  I took some time the next day to sit with my kids and ask for forgiveness for not being present in their lives the day before.

“Slowing down is not only for ourselves; rested and refreshed; we more generously serve all those who need our care.  The human spirit is naturally generous; the instant we are filled, our first impulse is to be useful, to be kind, and to give something away.” – Wayne Muller

Identifying Your Limits

This idea of “Slowing down to lead with integrity” is deeply connected to acknowledging our limits and accepting them.  All of us have limits in life. Some limits are unique to us and others are simply there because we’re human, but when we fail to recognize them, end up living life divorced from reality.  That reality being: We are all finite, we have limits, and we are not capable of everything.

Consider the following list of limits:

Your physical body

We all have limits when it comes to our bodies.  Some of you love to work out, while yet others of you like to eat out.  You get where I am going with this!  Some of us have the ability to run marathons while yet others are confined to wheel chairs.  It is important to understand the limits each of our bodies grant us.

Your marital status

If you’re married or you have children, you know that there’s an entirely new set of limits on your time and energy. Your life is not your own, and you recognize that God has called you to be a spouse and parent before being a minister. If you’re single, your schedule may have more flexibility, but you have another very real set of limits – relationally, emotionally, etc.

Your financial position

Each of you have been dealt certain cards in this area.  Some of us had our college education paid by our parents.  Others of us were $100,000 in the hole before our wedding day.  Our financial position affects where we live, the schools our kids go to, the types of cars we drive, and even the types of vacations we take.  If we don’t understand our limits in this area we can quickly bind ourselves with debt.

Your work or organization

Have you picked up some unhealthy expectations from the culture of your job? As you seek to recapture your own limits, you may start to recognize your operate on a team that does not. The expectations of others often creates a powerful pull back to limitless living.

Your gifts and talents

None of us have the ability to do everything.  There are things that God has gifted you with, and things that He has not. We need to accept what we are and what we’re able to do, and cease striving after the things that we may crave beyond what God has provided.

Your season of life

With only so much time in the day, we cannot say, “Yes” to everything. What we give our time to must reflect and be proportional to our core values and priorities.

Surrendering to Your Limits

Are you living beyond your limits in any of the above areas?  Do you even know what your limits are?  If we’re to live in our limits, we need boundaries to know when we’ve stepped too far. What boundaries do you need to integrate for the purpose of respecting your current limits?

When we don’t surrender to our limits, we live lives pressed beyond sustainable boundaries.  Recognize that other people’s limits are going to be different from yours. Remember, a life lived without limits is one that is often also being lived without integrity. A life lived without limits is fundamentally disconnected from our nature as finite beings.

Take some time today to stop for a moment. Create some space in the midst of your busyness. And do the dangerous work of soul searching to name your limits.

Next Monday, we’ll continue this conversation about slowing down to lead with integrity by asking the question: “Why do we struggle with giving ourselves permission to slow down?” We hope you can join us next week. Click here to read part 2.
Rick Rhoads
Professor of Student Min at Lancaster Bible College
Rick is the Director of the Student Ministry Majors at Lancaster Bible College. He has served as an Assistant Professor in Student Ministry at LBC for the past 7 years. Over the past 18 years, he has served in various Student Ministry roles at Lebanon Valley YFC, LCBC, Calvary Bible Church, and Riverbend Community Church. Rick, his wife Naomi, and their two children Grace and Eli live East Petersburg, PA.