CONTINUED FROM LAST BLOG ON PLANNING FOR YOUR FUTURE
Yes, you do need to look at your spiritual life. Again their are a variety of aspects from which you can choose. You might want to deepen your practice of contemplative prayer. You might want to develop a practice of praying consistently for members of your congregation, for the church, the presbytery, etc. Or you might want to develop a discipline of listening to Scripture address you personally.
Of course spiritual growth doesn’t only happen with interior disciplines. You might want to engage in some charitable work, engage in some faith conversations with either a close friend or a spiritual adviser, read some books that address spiritual subjects, or take time to address an issue of justice from a spiritual perspective.
Write your three statements. You don’t have to know how to achieve your goal to decide you want to work on it. Don’t over analyze at this point. Just identify where you would like to be two years from now in three different areas that you would define as part of your spiritual journey.
This may be the easiest or the hardest area in which to work. You may be very satisfied with where you are now, so your statements may reflect how you want to develop in your current situation. You may have some vague yearnings and your statement may be where you will be in two years in your exploration. Don’t be afraid to write a statement that is a little unsettling. You can always change your mind later and in writing about a possibility, you get a better feeling for what it looks like. You might write that in two years you want to leave the pastorate and become a religious journalist. The next day you may consider that the craziest idea you have every had. That realization alone is progress.
FIRST STEPS ON A JOURNEY
What you now have is a blueprint for possible futures. Give yourself a break and set the project aside at least for a week but no longer than a month. Make an appointment on your calendar to revisit the project.
When the appointed time arrives, first simply read through what you have written and make note of how it makes you feel. Is it exciting, scary, dull, or a mixture of several feelings.
You might even want to make an appointment with a trusted friend and have that person hear you speak out loud the blueprint you have prepared.
Next, choose at least two of the areas and identify one or two specific steps you might take towards realization of the project in that area of your life. If you are sharing this work with a friend, you will discover that in identifying some first steps to someone else it will help you be accountable in taking those steps.
Whether the decisions are private or shared with another, identify a time by which you will have begun the steps and how you are going to evaluate your experience. For example, you decide you want to improve your relationship with five members of the congregation. The first step you are going to take is to find at least two opportunities in the next month to express either affirmation or thanks to each of them for something they have done or said. Or you might identify some area in which they have knowledge and ask them to have lunch and share about their experience.
EACH STEP IS PROGRESS
The idea is to take some specific and measurable steps that you can take that if they were successful might move you closer to your goal. Even steps that aren’t successful can generate new information which you can use to identify a new step.
Use your calendar to identify times to choose a new area and plan new steps. You might even identify a reward system that affirms progress. Perhaps you might indulge yourself by going to a movie, reading a fun book, or playing an extra game of golf.
I’D LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE.