Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Internal Judge

This week I was coaching with a ministry leader who highlighted a problem that many of us have.  I had asked him to list 101 goals for his life (one of my early exercises I use with most of my clients.)  The goal is not perfection.  The goal is not even that you will actually accomplish all of them. (Although by listing them out, you will almost certainly accomplish more of them than if you hadn’t listed them out!)

My client suffered from what lots of us suffer from: an over active editor.  He wants to do right.  It has been inbred spiritually in him to do right.  Our culture is incredibly performance based.  And so every word has to be exactly right.  Every word means something (which IS true.  But it doesn’t have the eternal consequences that many of us feel that it does). 

image He wanted to put down “Climb Mt. Everest” on his list of 101 goals.  “Great!” But he wouldn’t do it.  “I’ll never accomplish that.”  he said.  “I don’t know why I want to put it down…it’s not something I really even want to do!” 

“What were you thinking when you thought of it?” I asked.

“I wanted to do one big adventure before I die.  That’s what I really want.”

“OK, you could put that down on your list, “I want to have a really big adventure.”  That would be OK. But I think you should leave it as “Climb Mt. Everest.”  THAT is what came to mind when you thought of a big adventure.  Even if you realize you don’t want to do it, now is not the time to make that decision.  That’s not the purpose of this exercise.  This is to brainstorm.  It is to write down what comes to mind. 

And I liked leaving it at “Climb Mt. Everest” because it was bold, rash and outlandish!  When it came time to edit that one, he wouldn’t already be hindered by “Do one big adventure before I die.”  (That is a little more ho-hum than “Climb Mt. Everest”.  And if you begin with ho-hum, it will only go down from there. 

We will go back later and do the “editor’s job”.  We will look at the list and ask, “Which ones do I immediately want/need to jump into.”  Which ones need to be adjusted.  Which ones are really an expression of wanting to do something else?  (Like Mt. Everest) 

Which ones does something else have to happen first before you can do it.  On my personal 101 goal list was to pay off the debt of my alma mater, Manhattan Christian College.  (I think it is like $2-3 million).  Is it realistic?  Well, no, not now.  I’m not even sure how we will; be able to afford health insurance this fall.  But it is a goal, that I WANT to accomplish if some other situations come into place (i.e. I get rich). 

But my friend (and me, if I can admit it) is plagued with the overactive editor.  It is a spirit of judging ideas as soon as they come out. 

  • That’s too expensive!
  • What would other people think?
  • That’s irresponsible!

What happened with my friend in his 101 goal list happens way too often in church.   “I have an idea,” someone says. 

  • That’s too expensive!
  • What would other people think?
  • That’s irresponsible!

come the replies. 

In what ways have you found to combat “over-active editor?”

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