Eugene Peterson called it “a long obedience in the same direction.” Thomas Edison referred to it as “stick-to-itiveness.” The Bible includes the term “long-suffering.” We could call it perseverance, determination, gumption, faithfulness.
The ability of a leader to achieve longevity in their field has always intrigued me. Not long ago, I listened to an interview between Andy Stanley and his father, Dr. Charles Stanley, who recently transitioned to the role of Pastor Emeritus after serving as the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Atlanta for over 50 years. Dr. Stanley referred to his approach to living out the vision he feels called to as this:
“Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him.”
When I teach and coach leaders, the way I communicate this idea is “Our job is faithfulness. God’s job is outcomes.”
3 Keys to Faithfulness
1. Clarity of Vision
You can’t be faithful to a vision you don’t deeply, personally align with. You can’t have integrity if the purpose of your work does not match the purpose of your life. That is not to say your career is your purpose. We must not be tempted to conflate the two and risk losing our identity in busyness and achievement. However, when your personal vision is clear, what you should say “yes” to becomes clear as well. You gain insight into what work is worth the best hours of your day. Your work becomes an extension and expression of the calling God has placed on your life.
What matters most to me?
When I look back on my life, what do I hope to be remembered for?
2. Knowledge of Self
You can’t be faithful to your calling if you’re not leading yourself well. And you can’t lead yourself well if you don’t know yourself. Self awareness leads us to acknowledge and accept both our strengths and our weaknesses, our gifts and our limitations. When we humbly know what we have to offer, we can offer it freely and confidently. When we humbly know our limitations, we know what we need to let go of, trust God with, and invite others into.
What makes me feel most alive?
What is one thing I need to let go of or stop doing?
3. Health of Rhythms
You can’t be faithful to steward your life well if you’re not caring for yourself. And you can’t give your best efforts when you’re depleted or drained. The rhythms you establish for yourself allow you to remain disciplined and rested. Be it prayer, reading, exercise, rest, hobbies, community…including healthy rhythms in your days, weeks, and months is what will allow your years to build steadily toward faithfulness.
Ask yourself: What helps me feel replenished or refreshed?
What discipline do I want to develop?
To set a goal of faithfulness is admirable. But knowing the scaffolding that will support such a goal is wisdom. Our hope for you in this season is that you would make space and time to reflect on your personal vision, to pursue self awareness, and to establish healthy rhythms that will lay a foundation for faithfulness and openness to trust God with the outcomes.