History is often our greatest teacher. Events that were unclear when they occurred become clear in the future and can teach us great lessons, if we are teachable.
Going through life and ignoring your history is like driving a car without mirrors. You are likely to hurt yourself or someone else because you may miss some important information.
I just had a long conversation with my parents and was struck by how much of my value as a leader and human being today can be attributed to how I responded to my history.
Over 11 years ago I began my first full time church position as a Director of Worship Ministries at a moderately large church. I have written about this experience before.
This position was both exciting and intimidating, inspiring and exhausting. I brought a rich personal background in with me, but I slowly discovered I knew very little about real church work.
When I left that church in 2009 I left knowing I had many close friends and colleagues; I also left with a lot of scars and a little more humility. Every experience there, however, has become precious to me for many reasons. Here are a just a few of those reasons:
- I realize I have much to learn. Humility can only be caught, not taught, and is essential to leading well. Jesus said the greatest will be the servant of all. I am still learning this virtue, but my past experiences helped me tremendously.
- I deal better with conflict. I have always been a bit conflict-averse, but once you have been through some conflict and survived you start to realize the world will not come to an end if you run into a difficult situation.
- I listen better. Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and realized you just missed the last thing they said because you were constructing your response? I used to do that a lot. I still catch myself trying to do that from time to time, but now I usually am able to be present mentally and emotionally and listen well.
- I love more fully. The bumps in my road up until now have made me more aware of the hurting people around me; now I am more likely to have compassion for them rather than just feel sorry for them.
How about you? What can you learn or have you learned from your past?