Enjoying the freedom of being good enough

Archive for the category “Presence”

Leading by presence

This week I presented a parenting workshop for an area church. The group was comprised primarily of parents of teens.

In my preparation I was again impressed with the impact and genius of the incarnation.

As parents, particularly parents of teens, we know we’re in over our heads. We’re desperate for answers. We want to believe there is a formula, some technique, that will solve our problems, relieve our fears, answer our questions and guarantee desired results.

We demand it.

This confirms our infatuation with knowledge. We assume effective living is a matter of getting the right information and mastering the right techniques. Knowing guarantees success.

I’m sure most parents attend workshops like mine hoping to find that missing piece of information that will seal the deal for them. Surely one more seminar will turn the key.

Seasoned parents discover parenting isn’t primarily about knowledge. While information can be quite helpful, information alone doesn’t equate to effectiveness.

Parenting is primarily about presence. Who we are as people, as parents, carries far greater impact than what we know.

We are the greatest asset we can offer our kids. (Unfortunately, if we don’t learn to manage ourselves well, we can be a great liability instead.)

The same is true in ministry.

Our impact on others is rooted in our presence.

We see this in the incarnation. God manifests himself not by sending information. Salvation, in its multi-layered richness, is not accomplished by formulas.

God accomplishes it through the incarnation–God becoming flesh and living among us.

He is present.

Parenting, ministry and any relationship is about incarnation. God is alive and present in us. We in turn are present with others.

Our primary and most significant impact on others isn’t in what we know. It doesn’t come by transferring information.

Our greatest impact is our presence–being present and accounted for.



Presence, gifts and courage

I recently participated in an interactive seminar. One activity involved participants verbalizing the gifts and strengths we observed in each other. A couple of insights surfaced for me.

First, there is a power of presence that we carry with us. My first impulse was to dismiss what my fellow attendees were saying about me. After all,  we’d only known each other for a few days. But as the group members identified strengths and gifts they observed in me, almost everyone named the same traits.

These were the same qualities others who have known me for a long time, who know me best, identify. They also happen to be the characteristics I have recognized as being my personal strengths.

The ones I identified in them, likewise resonated with familiar themes in their lives.

This affirms what I’ve heard discussed in other settings. We carry a sense of presence. Who we are radiates through us. Our very being impacts others, for good or bad.

We can’t hide it.

This has huge implications as leaders. We lead more by presence than we do our technical prowess or performance skills, as important as those are in their own right.

The second insight has to do with ownership of my gifts and strengths. On the heels of my impulse to dismiss the feedback, was my reluctance to allow others affirm me in this manner. It was uncomfortable and a bit embarrassing.

But as I stayed with the process, I realized the truth of something C. S. Lewis once stated. To dismiss the talents God has given us is not humility, it is cowardice.

Maybe my discomfort isn’t because I’m humble. Maybe it’s because I’m afraid to step up and own who I am. Afraid to take responsibility to utilize the gifts God has invested in me. Afraid to offer my presence and my gifts to a world of need.

I don’t want to be THAT man.

Combining these two truths, God’s calling is for me to courageously be present with others, owning and giving expression to the gifts He’s entrusted to me.

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