It was the middle of the night when we discovered the creepy crawlers all over our pillows, a disturbing realization that my recent outbreak of hives was actually just a nightly encounter with bed bugs. Scrambling to sort out our options for extermination, I was hit with a strange mix of emotions.
First, there was utter disgust at the thought that these creatures had been living off of our blood for the last 3 months. Then there was elation, that after rounds of doctor visits, blood tests and dietary adjustments, we had finally discovered the bizarre cause of my discomfort. Yet the most surprising set of emotions came in the form of empathy with a dash of guilt, that though I was relieved of my brief journey with pain and uncertainty, those with chronic illness suffer on.
New levels of gratitude were released inside of me as we discarded infested furniture, washed all our clothes and bagged up everything we own in preparation for the exterminators. My empathy for those with chronic illness was deepening, my appreciation for the gift of health in my own body was expanding and my perspective on life was changing, in slight but important ways.
Shaped by Experiences
Perspective is the way in which we see our world. It is an attitude or disposition toward something or someone that is shaped by our experiences. Influenced by our personality, maturity or lifestyle, one’s perspective can be enlarged throughout life. Or sometimes perspective diminishes and we call it, “losing perspective,” in moments of anxiety, ignorance or stress.
In my work as a leadership coach and trainer, I find that tackling life puzzles is more about gaining godly perspective than it is about solving problems. Sure, life is a mess, people are complex, pain is real and nothing ever turns out the way we hoped but, when we know God is with us, our entire outlook is transformed. As it says in Proverbs 3, if we acknowledge God in all our ways, God makes our paths straight in the end. It’s a steadying truth within our turbulent existence.
Referencing this way of being with God, Henri Nouwen says,
“perhaps nothing helps us make the movement from our little selves to a larger world than remembering God in gratitude. Such a perspective puts God in view of all of life, not just in the moments we set aside for worship or spiritual disciplines.”
Followers of God in Jesus are invited to look with gratitude beyond the seen reality into spiritual perspectives, knowing that God is always with us to make our paths straight for an eternal hope.
Not all of us have weathered the mild storm of bed bugs but we’ve all experienced the tsunami of tragedy, uncertainty and unexpected circumstances that have shaped our perspective. Our ability to realign with the divine perspective in all things is, I believe, one of the great mysteries of meaning for life on earth in union with the Holy Spirit.
Dr. J. Robert Clinton, a theologian and renowned professor of leadership, identifies 5 core practices that foster healthy leadership. He offers these, not as prescriptive instructions but as guiding practices, drawn from the story and influence of leaders throughout history who have finished well on their journey of life. Clinton points out that maintaining a divine perspective throughout life is an essential practice for healthy leadership.
Here are the five that Clinton highlights.
Practices that Foster Healthy Leadership:
Maintains a Divine Perspective
Engages in Regular Rhythms of Renewal
Practices Spiritual Disciplines
Embraces a Lifelong Learning Posture
Leans on the Wisdom of Mentors
Sometimes it is a bizarre experience that broadens our perspective and prepares us to face future entanglements with the creativity and courage of the Spirit. For me, I’ve never been more thankful for bed bugs, the opportunity to purge, the privilege of solidarity with those who suffer and a general reminder that life with God is steady and hopeful, no matter the circumstances.
Interested in more on leadership and perspective? Join us at The Praxis Gathering where we will be Re-Imagining Leadership together this September.
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