Good self-awareness will get you a long way down the road

A young pastor just asked me, “What’s one thing you would have worked harder on earlier in your career?”

Without even thinking I blurted out, “Self-awareness.”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“Well, I think self-awareness is the ability to both recognize and understand your moods and your emotions.  My goodness, just think about your drives, your moods and your emotions, and what a huge affect they have on others.”

These days I work hard on my self-awareness, I told him.  And yet, some days I still feel like I’m still in the preschool of self-awareness.  Still, I’ve got a few assignments under my belt. … I’ve long ago quit being “just fine.”  Thank goodness, I’m not “just fine” any more.

In a nutshell, here’s what I said to the young pastor today:

“Friend, even though you have a strong desire to achieve, develop a realistic self-assessment of yourself, whatever it takes.  Commit to working on it while you’re young.  Realize that you can be totally focused and tenacious and it not be about you.  In fact, the more self-aware you become, the more you will realize what you don’t know and you’ll increasingly be comfortable with ambiguity.  That doesn’t mean for a second that you’ll be less focused.  Not at all.  You’ll just be willing to embrace the tension you feel.  Frankly, you cannot be very self-aware without embracing tension.  But if you can work hard now at cultivating the ability to understand the emotional makeup of yourself and other people, and then treat people according to their emotional reactions, you’ll begin developing a self-assurance and self-confidence that will take you a long way down the road to being a great pastor.”

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