As I sat listening to Christian Simpson, a leading business coach, I had an epiphany. I realized I have gotten by in life by learning how not to think!
I've heard it said that 2% of the population think. 3% of the population think they think. And 95% of the population would rather die than thinking!
Think about that!
Thinking is actually not as easy as we might, well...think!
As humans we are often accustomed to going down the path of least resistance which causes us to coast rather than think through; to settle rather than dig for the gold in life; to chalk up experiences as simply "God's will" rather than learning and growing from each and every experience we travel through, whether good or bad so that we come out conforming to the image of Christ.
I believe one of the greatest practices a leader can implement in their lives is the daily discipline of reflection.
Paul writes to the Corinthian church, "examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5)." David gives us another angle by asking the Lord to "search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts (Psalm 139:23)." Solomon also writes, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6)." If your heart reflects trust and acknowledgement in God, then you'll be on the right path in life!
One of the ways to acknowledge God day in and day out in our lives is through reflection. Reflection is taking a look back at the day you just lived. Practically speaking, it's a great idea to write down some of the events of the day, some of the challenges, some of the victories, and some of the questions you are asking God throughout your day, at the end of your day. Personally, this helps me to acknowledge and invite the Holy Spirit to teach me about my heart and life by debriefing the day!
Reflection brings pauses in our lives which give us time to adjust and not continue to do the same things over and over again, hoping for different results. If our lives are to be lived in straight paths opposed to crooked paths, zig-zag paths, or all over the place paths, then we need to allow time for the Holy Spirit to coach us daily. Jesus told us His Holy Spirit would guide us into all truth. If we're not taking time to reflect daily on the paths we took and invite Him into the process, how do we really know we're leaning on Him and not our own understanding? For me, asking God questions helps me to not lean on my own understanding, but look to Him to fill in my gaps. Also, to lean on Him to help me to have and grow in the mind of Christ as Scripture declares!
Whether a youth meeting, a conversation, an outreach event, a worship practice, a discipleship group, or the like...take time to reflect on the experiences of the day. Ask the Lord, what made this time special? What were the victories here? What do I need to learn from this? Were there mistakes I made? How do I learn from them and not let them consume me or become my identity? Write down questions to the Lord. Write down your test runs or experiments and what you learned from them. Reflect on the successes and failures. Ask God what you can learn from those experiences and then what you can improve.
Proverbs 27:19 says, "As water reflects the face, so one's life reflects the heart."
I want the reflection of my life to be straight paths, paths of truth, paths of forward motion, and paths of fruitfulness for God's kingdom. If my life reflects what is in my heart, then I need to take time to reflect on what is happening in there! There is a very real correlation that what is on the outside is determined by what is on the inside! I don't know about you, but I need the Lord's help with showing me my heart as I make time to reflect on Him, His Truth, and the experiences of the day!
Craig Campbell is the Lead Pastor of Faith Tabernacle Church, which is located in his hometown of Lockport, NY. He has been serving the local church for more than eleven years in different capacities such as youth ministry, worship ministry, young adult ministry, and more. He and his wife Jennie have four amazing kids whose names are Leland, Hudson, Adalyn, and Lillian.