#313 Serving leaders ask themselves: “What am I thinking?”

November 10, 2021

Leaders work hard and they make things happen. They are people of action! But effective leaders also recognize that thinking about their work is a part of their work. They realize that what they think impacts what they do. Paul challenges leaders to pay attention to the focus of their thinking.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4:8, NIV).

 Paul instructs us to “think about such things.” Serving leaders ask themselves “What am I thinking?” for several reasons.

Serving leaders ask, “What am I thinking?” to ensure thinking time.

Paul calls for thinking about our thinking! He wants to make sure that we take some time to think. While thinking does not look like an active exercise, serving leaders recognize that thinking time is not unproductive, wasted time. Leaders need to stop and think. They need to step back and gain perspective. They need to reflect on the past, evaluate the present and envision the future. They ask themselves first, “Am I thinking?” “Do I have time scheduled that allows me to focus on thinking?” Serving leaders recognize that serving does not always mean engaging in the work. They step away from the work to think about the work.

Serving leaders ask, “What am I thinking?” to focus thinking time.

Paul calls us to think on “these things.” He provides a list of things that are “excellent and praiseworthy” to think about. Thinking time is helpful, but if the focus of the time is in the wrong direction, it will not be profitable. Not all thinking time is equal. There are some areas in which the serving leader can focus his/her thoughts that will bring greater return to the organization. These may involve planning for the future, reflecting on ways to more effectively delegate tasks and responsibilities, reflecting on the context in which he/she leads and how changes in the context impact the direction of the organization, thinking about ways to greater leverage strengths, etc. Serving leaders focus their thinking on things that bring positive results.

Serving leaders ask, “What am I thinking?” to explain their thinking time.

Serving leaders think about their thinking so that they can explain to others what they are thinking. They serve those they lead by sharing with them the things about which they are thinking. They deliberately share what they are thinking and why they are thinking. All who hear what the leader is thinking benefit from better understanding the heart and mind of the leader and the direction he/she is moving.  They also learn how leaders think which raises their own thinking capacity. Some who listen will sharpen the leaders’ thinking and bring additional ideas that improve the thinking process. Others in the organization need to know what the leader is thinking so that they can help carry out the needed actions. Serving leaders not only think; they serve their teams by sharing what they are thinking.

Take a minute to think about these things!

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Do I have time to think? What do I need to do to ensure that there is some thinking time in my calendar? What time of the day do I do my best thinking?   What location is most conducive to productive thinking?
  • When I think, where is the focus of my thoughts? Do I tend to think about positive or negative things? Do I focus on strengths or weaknesses? What impact does this have on my leadership? What do I need to strengthen and when will I do it?
  • How well and how often do I explain to others what I am thinking? Do I encourage others to sharpen my thoughts and bring their own ideas to the process?  Do those I expect to implement my ideas fully understand what I’m thinking and why it matters? Am I helping those around me grow in their own thinking capacity?  

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll examine the related question serving leaders ask others: “What are you thinking?”