Staying grounded in the midst of life can prevent us from experiencing the negative side affects of stress or success. I intentionally make time for these ten practices which keep me growing and keep me grounded.
People we know
Cultivating a close set of quality friends who will do the journey of life with us, love us and speak truth to us is central to grounding and growth. They are a very high priority for Mary Ann and me because these relationships represent fellow pilgrims who we know well and who know us well and who give us needed life perspective.
Books we read
Time for reading keeps us sharp and thinking outside our own paradigms. I usually am reading five to ten books at any one time so that I can pick and choose depending on my mood or need. I read broadly, theology, history, biography and leadership. If my reading suffers I know that I am running too fast for my own good.
Experiences we choose
Intentionally choosing to participate in experiences that will stretch us keeps us from living only in the comfort zone. Whether it is leading a ministry endeavor that will stretch us, learning something new about ourselves or learning something new, experiences that take us out of our normal zone challenge our thinking and perspectives.
Defining moments we experience
Defining moments are usually experiences we do not look for or necessarily wish for but they come our way nonetheless and force us to either use them for growth or they turn us toward bitterness. Tough experiences are the leading cause for growth in our lives if we will let them. Growth takes place in the red zone, not the comfort zone.
Ministry we undertake
I am not talking about out professional ministry that is a part of our job but personal ministry with others that is not part of our job. Ministry, coming alongside others with hope and help keep us living where God designed us to live. When we are too busy for personal ministry we know we are running to fast.
Risks we take
When we stop taking risks in our life or ministry we generally have slowed our growth curve. We ought to ask ourselves, "what was the last real risk I took?" Risks force us out of our comfort zone and challenge us to something larger than normal - and to rely on God more than normal.
Questions we ask
Never stop asking questions - of everyone we come into contact with. It is amazing how much we can learn if we simply learn the art of asking probing questions. Give me someone who asks a ton of questions and I know that I have someone who wants to keep growing. The inverse is also true.
Obedience we pursue
I am convinced that a measure of our own grounding and growth is the intentional pursuit of following Christ more closely - all the time. That means that we need to make space for God in our lives, often something in short commodity for those in full time ministry. Before we can influence others, God needs to influence us.
Love we give
God's people are givers of love in all sorts of practical ways. That takes a heart that is constantly on the look out for those who need love and the time to give it. One of the marks of grounded believers is that they are experts in giving love and they take the time to do it.
Community we participate in
All of us need community. In community, face to face with others, we are challenged in our own lives and growth. In community we learn to love, forgive, accept, overcome differences and challenge one anther's thinking. When we no longer have time for community we lose a bit of our grounding.
These are the practices that we intentionally put into our schedules. They keep us grounded and growing. The cool thing is that anyone can do them if they will make space for them. When one of them starts to suffer it serves as an early warning system that life is no longer in balance.