A year ago during my annual end-of-year reflection, I didn’t hear any specific goals from God. Instead, I heard him tell me to just be available for whatever he had for me in 2015. As it turned out, that included the illness and death of both my mother- and father-in-law.
This year, God has given me clear direction: “I want you to leave leadership.” Since early October, this message has been unmistakable. I do not sense that he is asking me to give up influence per se (after all, that flows from who we are, not just what we do), but definitely to let go of the focus and field of leadership, at least for a time. The corresponding message I’ve heard, from Psalm 46:10: “Cease striving and know that I am God.”
So, that’s what I’m doing. I don’t know if this is a temporary “letting go” or a permanent “leaving,” but I’m OK with either. I am giving up a number of responsibilities and positions and declining new opportunities and invitations. I will stop blogging on leadership, although I’m keeping my old posts available on this site.
I have no idea where God will take me in the months ahead but I look forward to listening, learning and following.
On the Journey,
We’re a movie family. We love watching, reading, and talking about movies. While the summer is good for popcorn flicks, the fall brings the best movies of the year, in time to generate Oscar buzz. Here is what I’m looking forward to seeing in the next few months:
- Everest. I want to see this on an IMAX screen. The story of two expedition groups during one of the fiercest snowstorms on this fabled mountain.
- The Martian. Matt Damon plays an astronaut that is accidentally marooned on Mars.
- Bridge of Spies. Tom Hanks stars as a lawyer who is tapped by the CIA during the Cold War to negotiate the exchange of a Russian spy (played by the brilliant British actor Mark Rylance) for an imprisoned American U-2 pilot. Directed by Steven Spielberg and screenwriters include Joel & Ethan Coen.
- Suffragette. Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan star in this story about women’s fight for equality in 20th-century Britain.
- The Walk. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ben Kingsley star in this true story about Philippe Petit’s 1974 high-wire walk between the World Trade Center buildings.
- Spectre. James Bond (Daniel Craig) is back. This one has been on our calendar for months.
- Trumbo. Story of the 1940s Hollywood blacklist. Stars Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Elle Fanning, Helen Mirren and John Goodman.
- The 33. The story of the Chilean miners who were trapped in a collapsed mine for 69 days.
- The Good Dinosaur. Pixar’s second release of the year. What if an asteroid missed the earth and dinosaurs never became extinct? (We’ve also blocked out Nov. 2, when we will receive our Blu-Ray copy of Inside Out for repeated viewing.)
- Macbeth. Shakespeare comes to the big screen, with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in the lead roles.
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This one necessitates a midnight screening.
- Joy. David O. Russell directs, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro, and Elisabeth Rohm star. That’s all I need to know.
Anything else I should add to my list?
Just over ten years ago in January 2005, I worked with a business coach who had me write down my dream for what I wanted my life and work to look like in ten years, in the form of a “vision story.” I chose to write from the perspective of January 2015, in the form of a belated Christmas letter.
About a month ago, I took another look at what I wrote. It was very cool (and, honestly, a little freaky) how prescient my vision was ten years ago. Remember, I wrote this when my boys were just 5 and 3 years old. Here are the prognostications, followed by the reality:
- “Taylor is our lanky sophomore and just got his driver’s permit a few months ago….he keeps us busy with his musical and dramatic endeavors….He continues to charm us with his bright smile.”
- He’s 5’11”, got his permit as predicted (and his license last week!) and is a regular performer in various choirs, plays, musicals, and vocal teams. And yes, he still has the same bright smile.
- “Jamison turned 13 in June and is becoming an all-around athlete, even joining Mom & Dad on some of their runs. Fortunately, he’s still not too old to give mom or dad a huge bear hug.
- Jamison ran a 5K with me a few weeks ago, works out with his friends, and still accepts and gives very strong hugs.
- “The majority of my time is spent teaching in a group setting via teleclasses, workshops, seminars, conferences, and college & seminary courses. My teaching has also led to increased writing and vice-versa.”
- I wrote this before I ever taught a class and when I had just written a few columns. Now I’m an official leadership teacher and writer.
- “I travel 6-8 times a year and we usually turn some of those into all-family trips.
- OK, that estimate was on the low end of what has been reality the last few years, but when I wrote the vision I was traveling maybe 1-2 times per year. Dave and the boys have indeed joined me sometimes, as when we combined a teaching trip to Denver with a family vacation to Breckenridge.
- “We have finally been able to realize our dream of starting the Ward Foundation for leadership development, and the boys continue to learn both the joy and the ‘business’ of philanthropy.”
- I am so excited that we are in the process of setting up various charitable vehicles to fulfill these dreams.
- “I work from home and set my own schedule.”
A few things in my vision were off-base — Taylor a nature expert? Family camping trips? — but the majority of the vision has become reality. I am now working on a vision for the next ten years, dreaming and praying about what God might have for me between now and 2025.
What do you want your vision story to look like?
I spent last week dealing with piles of paperwork.
First, I received a student’s D.Min. Thesis in the mail to prepare for his oral defense at the end of the month. Four years after completing my own dissertation, it’s an honor to help other students with theirs.
Then I spent two days in Atlanta, working on estate administration details with my sister-in-law.
Estate administration requires plenty of space to spread out and plenty of sustenance — and as one Facebook friend pointed out, lots of toys in case we needed a play break.
A day’s progress: 80 pounds of paper to be shredded, and a small pile to take home.
I think my dreams of a paperless office just took a step backward.
Greenwood, Indiana, where I live, is like really, really, really good vanilla ice cream. It’s not fancy or flashy, but you can do almost anything with it as a great base.
We’ve got low taxes, affordable housing, one of the best school districts in the state, and friendly, welcoming people. We’ve got downtown Indianapolis 20 minutes north for professional sports and first-class cultural events, including the Pacers and Colts, the Indianapolis 500, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and the Indiana Repertory Theatre.
Less than an hour to the south, we’ve got the rolling hills of Brown County and the quaint town of Nashville. A bit west of that is the great college town of Bloomington, home to Indiana University. For more far-reaching adventure, we are two hours from Cincinnati and Louisville, three hours from Chicago, and less than four hours from St. Louis — and just 20 minutes from a beautiful, modern international airport.
Add to all this four beautiful seasons, a collection of great churches, and the fact that most of our restaurants serve sweet tea, and this is pretty much one of the best places in the world to base a great life.