Seven Landmarks to Fuller Potential
Effectiveness comes through reaching your full potential. Sounds easy, but how do you arrive at this destination of full potential? I have listed seven landmarks for the journey (not in the order of importance).
- Stewardship: We are personally responsible for our own stewardship. Ask, “Where and how should I invest my time, talents, and treasure?” Have you ever noticed how quickly others can identify someone that works? They tend to pile work on workers, and give little thought to the person’s priorities, strengths, or time schedule. We have to be the ones to guard our giftedness. Invest well to bring forth the greatest dividends. Not all investments yield the same profits. We want to yield one hundred fold (Matthew 13:3-9).
Robert Slocum in Ordinary Christians in a High-Tech World says, “Even if the future is in God’s hands, I have in my own hands the stewardship responsibility for developing my own talents, aptitudes, and abilities.”
- Specialize: Someone has said that if you do a little of everything, you will end up doing a whole lot of nothing. Life has many general practitioners, but few specialists. Being a specialist is the order of the day. Find something that fits both your gifts and a need in the organization, and give yourself to it. Become a professional. Look for things that you can do that no one else is doing (or can do). Not only will you gain a reputation, you will make an impact, and establish your ministry.
Paul said, “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14, NIV).
Max DePree in his book, Leadership is an Art explains the concept of roving leadership. “Roving leaders have the special gifts, or the special strengths, or the special temperament to lead in these special situations.”
He claims that in many organizations there are two kinds of leaders—both hierarchical leaders and roving leaders. Max gives an illustration of roving leadership. In the church service on Sunday morning, a man slumps over apparently having a serious health problem. What did the leader, the senior pastor do in this situation? Nothing. But in a few seconds a nurse was at the man’s side. She quickly attended to the man. Who was the roving leader in this situation? The nurse. “Roving leaders are those indispensable people in our lives who are there when we need them.”
- Significance: Get involved in something that makes a difference in eternity. What are you doing that will outlast you? Have a vision of what the Lord would have you to do. Life is too short just to aim for success. Shoot for significance, make an impact, and leave behind a legacy.
George Bernard Shaw said, “Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got ahold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
- Strengths: Ask, “What am I really good at?” Spend the majority of your continuous improvement time developing your strengths. This is the secret to making a mark of excellence. Spending all your time developing your weaknesses will only allow you to become average. Spend your time doing what you do best, and delegate the rest away. You cannot do everything, and you should not attempt to. Work smarter, not harder.
Bob Buford in Halftime says, “My passion is to multiply all that God has given me, and in the process, give it back.”
- Success: It doesn’t happen overnight. It is a journey. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Right decisions done repeatedly over time will compound success. Peter Drucker says that you should work on things that will make a great deal of difference if you were to succeed. What is success? John Maxwell in The Success Journey reveals, “Success is knowing your purpose in life, growing to reach your maximum potential, and sowing seeds that benefit others.” Vaclav Havel adds, “The real test of a man is not when he plays the role that he wants for himself, but when he plays the role destiny has for him.”
- Servant: Maintain a servant’s heart. A servant is not only willing to serve, but goes beyond the expectation of others. Biblically a servant that does only what is expected, remains unprofitable. “And the servant is not even thanked because he is merely doing what he is supposed to do” (Luke 17:9, NLT).
Sometimes it will be necessary to just say, “No!” to some tasks in order to do a better job at what you should be doing. Effective leaders learn when to say, “No!” Buford says that you should not accept work that you do not want to do, or that you have time to do. Unwanted work becomes a chore, and becomes an unpleasant taskmaster.
- Stop: Take stock. Take time-out regularly to inventory, and reflect on what you have accomplished, and what you intend to accomplish in the future. Measure everything that comes your way according your vision, passion, giftedness, and personal ministry.
There are many roadblocks on the journey to reaching your full potential, and each one will try to detour you from you destination. A zillion motorists disguised as important work assignments will endeavor to slow you down. Keep your eye on your vision. Watch for the landmarks along the way. Slow down, and occasionally stop to make sure you are moving in the right direction. Get back on the road, and keep moving. Your destiny is in sight. Your fullest potential is just ahead.
by James G. Poitras