Monday, February 29, 2016

From Darkness Into Light

Almost as suddenly as the darkness of burnout came, it seems to have mostly left.  A couple of weeks ago, I had several brief glimpses of "normal" Renita again, which I experienced with great joy and relief.  And from that time forward, the "normal" Renita seems to be emerging more and more.

What caused the darkness to go?  Nothing significant changed in my circumstances.  This entire burn out has been a bit of a mystery to me, both in how and why it came, as well as how and why it left.  There definitely seems to be a spiritual component to it.  But either way, I'm very thankful.  I was beginning to despair that I would feel normal again, and people were indicating to me that it could take up to two years.

One thing that did help came in the form of a gift from a friend to utilize a service called Corporate Psychologists out of Minnesota, whose goal is to assess and measure talent data, for the purposes of turning that data into action.  I took hours of tests and then had the fun of hearing the results; it was especially fun because the assessments were objective (based on tests and interviews) and were being done by strangers who had no vested interest in telling me one thing or another.  There were some things that I knew, and some surprises, but overall it was very affirming and did help explain some of what happened to me which led to the burnout.  Some of the things that were articulated to me is that I am a very values-driven leader (most of my important life decisions have been made around values) and I am entrepreneurial.  Being described as an entrepreneur was affirming as that is who I mostly work with, and yet having worked in non-profits most of my life, was not something that I would have described in myself.  But it does make sense, as I am pretty constantly problem-solving, looking for opportunities to improve ministry, and then work to turn that into action, turn it over to nationals, and then continue to seek new ways to improve in new contexts.  They said I have a pretty high need for variety, have a very independent streak (should be no surprise to my mother), and should consider more lateral movements within an organization instead of upward movement as I will get bored quickly with maintaining work and bureaucratic work.

As much as my tests came back with lots of positives, some of the interesting discussions about being a leader came in the form of acknowledging that for every strength a person has, for every gift or talent that a person has been given by his/her Maker, there is a shadow.  It's good to know what our strengths are, but it is equally good to know the shadow of that strength, and how that particular strength might effect (both positively and negatively) the people around us.  For me, there was real value in looking at that, in terms of past, present, and future.

I'm happy to say that this emergence means that my passion is coming back for the work I was doing.  I leave March 9 for Kenya for three weeks, during which time I will continue the work of exploring the growth of Discipling Marketplace Leaders in the Churches in Western Kenya, interviewing pastors and church leaders, as well as do some networking and workshops.

The goal for Discipling Marketplace Leaders in 2016 is to continue to do vision casting to see where the seeds might take root and grow.  In May we will be doing presentations in Ethiopia, June will be back in Egypt, September to India, November to Nigeria, and somewhere in the middle of those months will be back to Ghana.  We also hope to start DML with a church in the US and will be exploring opportunities with those churches who express interest in starting a business ministry for their church members.

I need to remember not to rush back into busyness and "what's next" mode but remember the lessons learned during this time and be faithful in applying them.  Thank you for your prayers during this time, as well as the words of encouragement.