If, when God asks for more than is convenient,
And claims some of the downtime of your day,
What depth will you reveal in your commitment?
Will you step up, or quiet fade away?
If, when all goes wrong, will you keep balance?
Will you trust in Heaven to get you through?
Will you turn to team and trust their talents,
When well-constructed plans are knocked askew?
If, when all is lost, you gather pieces
If you still stand when all have fled their posts
If from defeat you glean the things it teaches
And learn, and try again with your utmost
Then all might fail, or fruits might sprout emergent
Regardless: God will say, “Well done, My servant!”
Have you received and accepted God’s call? Good. Now the real work begins.
For the past nine years, I have coached technology company CEOs. Most are backed by venture capital– a form of investment that is high risk / high reward. A number of the CEOs I coach today have been with me for years– some over five years. When I first began to coach them, their companies were quite early stage. Now their companies are scaling into global enterprises.
Venture Capitalists are often asked what distinguishes the CEOs who “make it big” (the ones who have founded and built global, iconic enterprises) from all other founders. The most common answer is this: “The great ones never quit.”
This is an important lesson for those who seek to respond to God’s call. In the work you are doing for God, rising leader, how committed are you? Is your work in service of God’s call a side project, one that you’ll get to in your free time, if nothing else (like a golf game) gets in the way? Or is it a core commitment– an essential expression of who you are– something you will prioritize at or near the top of the list?
I want to be clear. I don’t subscribe to the notion that “you are what you do”. You’re a child of God. You have worth and dignity independent of your work. However, how we spend our time is a strong indicator of our priorities. If a meaningful part of our week is dedicated to service, and if we are putting our hearts and souls into it, then our vocations are primary vessels of our self-expression.
The point is, it takes commitment. Commitment isn’t hard to muster at the beginning. It’s in the crucible of crisis that commitment comes into question. When the crisis hits, do you hit the escape button or put your head down and keep on working?
Good leader, you are called to do consequential things. Whether it be to serve in a charity, strengthen our democracy, advance diplomacy or help the planet achieve sustainability– the work you are called to do takes leadership. You’ll need to name the problem, envision a solution, design it, architect it, build it, implement it, stabilize it, optimize it and scale it. You’ll encounter all kinds of challenges along the way. Will you keep your nose to the grindstone, working through every problem that arises? Or will you fold like a cheap tent at the first sign of difficulty?
Most significant initiatives go through a leadership cycle that looks something like this:
When everything falls apart, a leader has a choice– to stay or go. That’s why a leader’s depth of commitment can only be discovered in a crisis. When it hits, what does the leader do? Remember Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in the early days of the Russian invasion. US authorities were trying to help him get out of the country, to safety– so as to ensure continuity of government in the event (as everyone expected) Russian tanks were to roll through Kyiv. His response was, “I don’t need a ride. I need ammunition.” He chose to stay.
In this Rising Leader Series, I have spent much time writing about the work of our souls. It is in the encounters of our souls with God– expressed in love, truth and grace– that He prepares us for our call. In the apprenticeship of prayer, we untangle our soul knots and build up our resilience. So that when the crisis comes, we are ready to lean on Him for strength and stamina. We are sustained by trust and hope, recognizing that God has not asked us to be successful– He’s asked us to be faithful. We know that if we wake up every day, if we take up the work at hand and do our best, we have done our part. The rest is up to Him.
How committed are you to your call? Will you give it your all? I pray you do– and that many years from now, as your life of service finally comes to an end, you will be able to look back and say, as St. Paul did, that you have “fought the good fight”.
Next week, let’s celebrate our gifts.
“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but to all who crave His appearing.”-- 2 Timothy 4: 7-9
Yours in commitment,
P.S.: When God comes calling, what will be the depth of your commitment? This poem is about that.
Previous Weeks' Letters: