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THE 8 ESSENTIALS FOR CATALYST BECOMING A CHANGE MAKER LEADER
By BRAD LOMENICK
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2013Brad Lomenick
All rights reserved.
FIND YOUR UNIQUENES
When you live your life knowing the mission and calling and voice of God in your soul and you know where that compass is driving you forward, you will become a rare commodity in a world searching for direction.
—ERWIN MCMANUS, CATALYST WEST
LOOKING BACK IN OUR LIVES, WE CAN OFTEN IDENTIFY THE moments when our gifts were beginning to bubble up and point us toward God's callings for us. I remember the day my mother dropped me off at my first-grade class. Bristow, Oklahoma, is a small town of five thousand, not far from Tulsa. Since my dad was principal of the middle school and knew all the teachers in the school system, he informed me weeks earlier that Mrs. Weaver would be my first-grade teacher. With a new pair of jeans, a Brady Bunch lunchbox, and a bowl haircut, I was ready to conquer the world. Or Bristow Elementary School at least.
Mom was proud—reminding me at least a dozen times to behave and play nicely with the other kids—but she was also emotional. I was filled with excitement. Even at this young age, the thought of connecting with others energized me. Walking into the classroom, I hung my backpack on the coat hook, located my desk, and began memorizing my classmates' names. In hindsight, this was probably the first sign of my calling as a leader.
These passions continued to surface with each passing year. I became one of the captains of the football team in third grade and landed the lead role of Pecos Bill in the school play in sixth grade, the same year I was elected class president.
One memory of elementary school was a showdown regarding the lunch menu in the cafeteria. Our lunchroom only served chocolate milkshakes, and I was convinced that lunch would not be complete without both vanilla and strawberry. I led the student council to victory in the milkshake showdown, and though some might say our win was due to my dad being the principal of the middle school, I claim it was my fearless and staunch stance in the face of opposition!
Even in those elementary moments, I sensed a compelling urge to lead, like a rumble in my gut. Maybe you know the feeling. Something inside is pushing you to the edge, to the front of the line, to make a difference, to leave a mark. From first grade in Mrs. Weaver's class trying to make sure everyone knew each other, to eighth grade when I led the charge for a new school dance. I again felt the rumble in middle school when I was elected student council president. I experienced it in high school when I became senior class president.
During my formative years, I attempted to lead in whatever I did, from school plays, to the classroom, to becoming one of the captains of the football and basketball teams. I desired to be out in front.
My sophomore year of high school, two friends and I started a rap group. I dropped beats under the name Crème-L—a name I was actually proud of at the time—and our trio committed to make a difference through our "music." When the "Don't lay your trash on Oklahoma" anti-litter campaign launched, we wrote a song for it called, "Clean Up the Streets." We performed it in front of the governor and House of Representatives. I'm sure the tape of our performance is tucked away somewhere, and I'm more certain that I'll never let anyone find it.
Approaching my senior year of high school, I began to ponder career paths. My friends and I dreamed about the great accomplishments waiting for us. Some wanted to become teachers and football coaches. Others desired to become doctors or business managers or cattle ranchers. When it came time to share the dream for my life, a clear answer evaded me. I knew I loved connecting with others and convening people and investing in leaders, but that wasn't a job description. Could I do that in politics or education or business? Perhaps. All I knew was that I felt called to lead.
Graduation day finally arrived, and since I served as senior class president, I had to announce 130 graduates' names—first, middle, and last—as they walked across the stage. The music played and procession began. I stepped up to the microphone without any notes and called out each name from memory. To many who were there, reciting all the names by memory seemed like quite an accomplishment. But for me, it was normal, since I felt a connection to all of my classmates. When the final name was called, my mind flashed back to first grade and I recognized a pattern that had been emerging all along. Looking back, the most important treasure I received that day wasn't a diploma, but rather a glimpse of my calling.
Though I didn't realize it at the time, God had been plotting my path. He opened up doors in college to develop networks of future leaders. I convened members of rival fraternities and sororities for a regular Bible study. I was gifted as a connector, someone who brings people together and equips them to work toward a common purpose. I'd go on to exercise these gifts and my calling through my work in magazines, media, web content, hospitality, and conferences.
KNOW YOUR CALLING
Every Christian has two callings in life: a spiritual one to salvation and also a vocational calling. Life is too short to miss either one. Your two callings are separate but inseparable. The first informs the way you'll live out your second calling. The realization of what Christ has done for us produces a compulsion to live for Him. When we talk about one's "calling," we're speaking about the vocational kind that answers this question: "I've decided to follow God, but how does He want me to use my gifts and passions?"
In the years since my high school graduation, I've come to realize that living one's calling is a necessary first step to leading well and becoming a change maker wherever God has planted you. Without understanding your purpose, you'll end up bogged down in the mud of life. But when you are living out your calling, your work will be better, and you will naturally want to work harder. That's why Catalyst has incorporated calling into our events and organizational fabric.
Our team works hard to create spaces where leaders can hear from God about His direction for their lives. We handpick speakers with great visions who will challenge attendees to discover the visions in their own hearts. If participants come to a Catalyst event not knowing what God might have planned for their lives and leave without inching any closer to that purpose, then we've failed as a team.
We've found that participants often have the opposite experience. We hear from scores of people each year who say they were encouraged to fully pursue their callings because of a Catalyst event. Each year, handfuls of people sit on one of our couches and thank our team for the emphasis we've placed on this important topic. Oftentimes, attendees were already making a huge impact through their work or ministry, but our event created a space where they could dream about even greater goals.
Similarly, when someone joins our team, we want to make sure he or she is on this journey too. My desire in the first year of a team member's employment is either to affirm the employee's calling or to release the person to pursue it elsewhere. I've set this goal because I desire for Catalyst's heartbeat—both internally and externally—to be equipping the next generation of Christian influencers to discover God's plan for them. Without knowledge of one's calling, leading well is impossible.
God's interaction with His followers throughout the Bible seems to indicate that He places a high value on calling. He visited Moses through a burning bush, spoke to Samuel throug
Excerpted from THE 8 ESSENTIALS FOR CATALYST BECOMING A CHANGE MAKER LEADER by BRAD LOMENICK. Copyright © 2013 by Brad Lomenick. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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