The last 9-12 months have been interesting for me. A little over a year ago, a co-worker asked me a pretty simple question.
“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
I’ve been asked that question a lot in my life and I’ve always had a well-prepared and well-thought-out answer. However, when I was asked that question last year… I hesitated.
It was strange because when I had been asked that question in the past, my answers contained dreams of doing things that I’ve mostly accomplished. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had and the relationships I’ve built. However, it’s a little strange to be on this side of the question.
Last year I went on a sabbatical and the answer to that question was a point of focus for me. I spent a lot of time in prayer and in my thoughts. I spent many hours with a professional life coach to help me better understand where I am currently. Although I don’t have a comprehensive answer to the “five years from now” question, I have a clearer picture than I did a year ago.
Here’s what I know. I’m far from finished. In my 39 years of life and nearly 20 years of ministry, I’m in my prime. Sure, I don’t have the energy I did as a 19 year-old children’s pastor, but I’m significantly smarter. I have a ton of experience and I have a relational network that adds great value to what I do. I’ve never been more poised to make a difference in this world than I am right now. However, one thing has changed pretty significantly for me. I have a family now. A wonderful wife and three amazing kids. They matter more to me than I can even describe.
Having a clear understanding of these two significant things is powerful. Knowing who I am, what I can do and what is important to me must inform every decision.
Last week at the Orange Conference, a general session by Pete Wilson impacted me in relation to this very topic. He gave a talk about Abraham and the calling he received from God to go to a land far from what was familiar (Genesis 12). All 8,000 attendees were handed a paper measuring tape. Pete told us to turn it to the metric side of the tape and look at the numbers. Find our current age, tear the measuring tape there and place the first part of the tape behind us. That is our past. Then he told us to simply estimate how long we expect/hope to live (obviously we can’t predict that). He told us to tear the tape there and place it in front of us. That’s eternity before us. What we hold left is our life.
In my hands I had a visual reminder of what I have left. For me, I was holding 41 years in my hands. Fortunately for me, it’s more than I’ve lived so far. However, I’m currently poised to have a SIGNIFICANT impact on the next 30-40 years of my life. I’m expecting great things and time is more limited than I previous realized. There is a deadline and it is coming faster than I’d like.
Pete asked the question:
How will you invest this time?
Never before have I been more concerned about my calling. I have work to do and not nearly enough time to do it. Having this in mind leads me to several thoughts:
- Where am I underutilized? I have a lot to offer. If I’m not being utilized well, it’s critical that I find ways to reach my potential. Am I investing in things that are strategic and lasting?
- Where am I stuck? I’m a pretty smart guy. I know when I’m stuck. Unfortunately, I’ve squandered a lot of time in places where I’ve felt stuck. Usually, it has been the result of not having difficult conversations with those who can help me get un-stuck.
- Where can I improve? I’m aware of what I don’t know. I’m aware of the things that have to improve in my life. I have friends who are showing me what they see in me that needs to improve. Improving on these things will impact how I finish what I’ve started.
What about you? What time do you have left? What do you hope to make of it?
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