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3 steps to shift from success to significance

Oct. 30, 2017 | by Gerry Lewis

I wish I had paid better attention as I was growing up. There are so many lessons I had to learn by trial and error as an adult that happened right in front of me as a youth, but I wasn’t interested. 

I expressed that thought to my stepfather in a recent conversation. One of those handy guys who can figure out how to fix just about anything, he could have taught me a lot in those early years. However, I was too busy and didn’t see the relevance of all that stuff, so it was faster and more efficient to do it himself. Unfortunately, the pattern continued and my grown-up son is having to learn things that I didn’t take the time to teach him either.

I’m not experiencing any regrets or angst over this; just acknowledging lessons I wish I had learned earlier. I think I learned—and passed on—the things that matter most. But, if I had it to do again …

There are other lessons I wish I had learned earlier, especially as a young pastor. Now that I spend time coaching and consulting pastors and church leaders, I am trying to pass on some of those. I think they are also applicable to a broader vocational spectrum.

Everyone I know wants to experience vocational “success.” We want to achieve and be noticed. We want to be “in.” I am at the point in life where the desire for success has been replaced by the desire for significance. As I’ve been thinking about that today, I’ve thought of a three-step sequence of significance that perhaps seems a little counterintuitive, but stay with me to the end.  

To be a part of the significance IN crowd:

Step 1 - Make yourself IN-dispensable. Become the go-to person, the one who can be counted on. Exceed expectations. Under-promise and over-deliver. Demonstrate integrity and build trust. Someone will be watching you and learning.

Step 2 - Make yourself IN-cognito. Getting noticed feels really good. It can be intoxicating, but those who remain IN-dispensible risk fatigue and burnout. They can become control freaks who never elevate those around them. The idea of making yourself IN-cognito is that you are elevating and empowering those around you to the point that you are giving leadership, stepping in when necessary, but sharing both responsibility and recognition.

Step 3 - Make yourself IN-visible. You know your effectiveness as a leader when success may be accomplished without your presence, when recognition goes to your team, and when those you have taught advance beyond your abilities.

Second Timothy 2:2 (New International Version) says, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” 

Our lives matter so much to God that He wants us involved IN His eternal purposes. That’s a good crowd to be in.

Question: Where are you currently IN-dispensable?  IN-cognito?  IN-visible?

Photo source: istock


Gerry Lewis

Dr. Gerry Lewis serves as Executive Director of the Harvest Baptist Association in Decatur, Texas. He is also Founder and CEO of YLM Resources, which includes Next Step Coach-Sulting and Life Matters Publications. He is also an author of four books, including Why “Bible Study” Doesn't Work. He and his wife live in Azle, Texas and have two grown children and three (so far) grandchildren. His weekly Life Matters blog and Your Church Matters podcast can be found at drgerrylewis.com.



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