I’ve been told I’m an ambitious person. I can’t really remember too many times someone had to “hurry me along” to get me to do something or work hard. But I can recall several occasions where people have had to “slow me down.” New ideas give me life. Creativity, thinking outside the box, moving along in my career, increasing my faith by doing hard things, challenging status quo for the sake of growth, and more all describe me.
Well, if I’m honest, that part of me took a huge hit last year. When Covid hit, my job went haywire, as all of ours did. I really had a hard time staying ambitious with not even knowing how to do my job during the height of the pandemic. I have experienced these moments other times as well. When things keep going the way they always have, I can start to feel angst. And, if I’m being honest again, I struggled for a big part of last year with an apathetic nature when it came to my career in ministry. It wasn’t until I started thinking about turning 30 (now only days away for me at the time of this post) that I snapped out of it. For months I began praying and seeking God’s direction for my 30’s. I wanted to leverage my life the best way I knew how.
A New Discipline
What I needed to do was to establish some disciplines to make sure I was growing and to avoid stagnation. In my profession, what often happens is churches stay the same for so long they become decades behind culture and instead of dwelling within culture, they expect culture to come back to them. But when they are actively engaged in culture, they can actually help shape the culture which I think is a clear impact the church should have.
My current discipline really does excite me and helps me stay fresh. I hope it’s helpful for you as well. It’s rather simple which can make it easy to dismiss when tasks and projects begin to pile up. But in light of recent readings and studying high impact leaders for so long, I can tell you each of them does this. I call mine “Ambitious Thursdays.” Ambitious Thursdays, for me, is a time I take to think ahead and to grow. We get so bogged down in the day to day that we eventually cease dreaming and just ride the current. But what if we took time each week (a few hours or even a whole day) and looked out? Looked ahead?
What this has done for me is allow me to dream and keep ambitions alive. It also helps me know which ambitions to let die because not all of them are worth following. With my current role, I’ll use those Ambition Thursdays to look at the areas I’m over in my church and look out. What needs do I see? Where are we lacking? What ideas come to mind to grow and connect more people to the hope of Jesus? Ambition Thursdays typically have very little current project work, very few tasks, and a whole lot of praying and dreaming. Yes, it takes creative power but it’s so worth it.
I read 17 books in 2020 and several of them were leadership books (I geek out on leadership stuff). It was a common theme to see high achieving leaders taking time in their work week to think, be creative, and keep their ambitions alive while starting new ones. So, I decided I would do the same as I continue to develop into this kind of high impact leader. Maybe you can take that challenge as well! Your excitement will grow, your passions will be clear, and your work will be rich!