Day 56 of 100: As always, a work in progress

Holy cow, it’s June.

May has been a very eye-opening and humbling month for me, of realizing that I know a lot less than I used to like to think I did.

Here are 10 things I learned in May.

1) When in doubt, wait. This month I’ve gotten excited about a few different things, started developing new passions, and taken in a lot of new information. It’s refreshing to know that God and people do not expect me to act immediately on these things, and it would indeed be wise to give a lot of thought into new things before jumping all over them (even if you think, but it’s possible and seems great). Like buying a house, for example. Which is not practical right now, though it may be possible.

2) On a related note, if you’re passionate about something, do your research before acting. I’ve been trying to do research and talk to people about what it looks like to teach high school and whether or not it’s something I can actually do. I’ve been talking to a lot of people and reading a lot about the danger of being harmful when you’re genuinely trying to be helpful. It’s the whole “teach a man to fish” vs. “give him the fish” mentality. Basically, if you’re going to help a person or community out, figure out what they really need and leverage their abilities before giving what you think they need. This satirical youtube video illustrates this. Note: I do not think this video’s goal is to undermine TOMS or accuse them of not understanding the needs of the community. I think it is simply encouraging us to think about what we do, why we do it, and whether it is helpful or hurtful. See books such as When Helping Hurts and Overrated.

3) Leaders must be humble and teachable. I’ve learned a lot about leadership through my experience teaching, going to conferences, and listening to podcasts like Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast. I’m getting a sense that the best leaders are good at developing and growing people, meaning they need to really understand and be affected by the people they lead, figuring out what each person’s gifts are and developing them.

4) I’m learning how to take care of myself spiritually, physically, and emotionally. I’ve heard statistics such as: 45% of youth leaders burn out, pastors have 7th highest divorce rate, 80% of Bible college students who enter the ministry leave within 5 years… I would very much so not like to be one of these statistics. I think any profession where you’re doing a lot of giving and pouring out to people runs the risk of burnout. For me, this looks like maintaining my relationship with God before asking my students to do the same; eating and sleeping well; making efforts to not isolate myself in my work, ministry, friendships, and relationship; in general, taking care of myself so I’m not trying to take care of others on “empty.”

5) Couples counseling is incredibly helpful, even before you get engaged. My boyfriend and I recently completed a series of counseling sessions with my pastor, and it has been so great for us to get all of our past hurts, current passions and values, conflict tendencies, relationship/marriage expectations, and where we want our lives to go out in the open before deciding that we want to commit to marriage or even engagement. It’s been pretty scary and vulnerable talking about these things, but we’ve learned a lot about each other through it. Here’s a related article about this.

6) I’m a lot less afraid to ask hard questions then I used to be. I’m getting better at evaluating myself and checking my motivations behind the things I do. I’m a pretty impulsive person and I’m easily excited about things, but I always have to remember to check myself before I take on responsibilities. I saw some youth ask this of themselves this week, and that’s inspiring.

7) Finding connections between science, Christianity, and psychology makes me really excited. See some previous “Sunday/ multiple of 7” posts.

8) Spending a day to laze about and chill and be a kid is really refreshing sometimes. My boyfriend and I spent most of Memorial Day building a pillow/blanket fort and watching cartoons in pjs. It was an amazing day.

9) Figuring out housing is stressful. Would anyone like to live with me next year? We have a lot of open rooms here…

10) Feeling the tension is better than trying to wrap things up in a neat little box. There’s always a tension between the reality that you see and the place where you want to be (hah, that rhymes). We don’t like uncertainty, so sometimes we look for easy answers and ways out that aren’t helpful. I’ve been feeling a lot of tension in accepting and loving the person I am now, but wanting to grow and become a stronger person. I’m trying to let myself feel that tension and live in it instead of getting too down on myself for not being who I want to be or too complacent.

So yes, as always, a work in progress.

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