Create a personal growth plan

Posted on November 9, 2013

Everyone has a sphere of influence. All of us are leaders – or, at least, potential leaders.

Here is a key to becoming a better leader: leading others well begins with leading yourself well.


How do you lead yourself? You make it a priority to continue growing. Recently I heard a speaker give his thoughts on this topic, and he said he learned all about this from the author and pastor John Maxwell. Here are a few highlights:

* You can learn about leadership “by accident”, but if you want continued and sustained growth, you need to be intentional about it.
* Make a personal growth plan.
* Invest in yourself. The people you lead will benefit from your self-investment.
* A common mistake is that we try to grow “too general”. Instead, take a period of time to grow in just one area, and choose something in which you are already somewhat strong.


To create a personal growth plan, do this:

1) Choose your area for growth.
2) Delineate a period of time.
3) Pick three books to read on that topic.
4) Find three people who are successful in that area to call and ask questions.
5) Write down one to two places or situations where you can grow and obtain exposure.
6) Memorize scripture passages that correlate.

There are certainly more exercises you could do for growth, but this seems like enough to get you started.
I want to do this, and I need to do this … and I am going to share what my personal growth plan is because writing it down makes it more real. As I write it, I am committing to it, and sharing it will make me more accountable to it.


Chansin’s Personal Growth Plan

My area for growth: Asking thoughtful questions and listening
Period of time: 6 months
Three books to read:

  •  Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction by Margaret Guenther
  •  Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction by David G. Benner
  • Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith by Henri Nouwen

Books I have already read and should review:

  • Seeking God Together: An Introduction to Group Spiritual Direction by Alice Fryling
  • Let your Life Speak by Parker Palmer
  • Sacred Compass: The Way of Spiritual Discernment by J. Brent Bill

Three people to interview:

  •  Angela Reed, Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Director of Spiritual Formation at George W. Truett Theological Seminary
  •  Maybe Someone from Cenacle Sisters in Houston
  •  Maybe someone like Janet Davis, author and spiritual director

Two places/situations:

  • I will ask one of my friends from seminary to allow me to do a semi-formal spiritual direction session with her. After we are finished, I will ask for feedback.
  • During a lunch or dinner meeting with someone from my congregation, I will be particularly mindful about asking good questions and listening. I will journal about the experience afterwards and consider how I may improve.


  • James 1:19-21 – You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.
  • Proverbs 18:13 – If one gives answer before hearing, it is folly and shame.
  • Proverbs 10:19 – When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but the prudent are restrained in speech.
  • 1 Samuel 3:10-11 – Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Then the Lord said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle.
  • Romans 10:17 – So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.
  • Deuteronomy 30:19-20 – I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”


Joan Chittister wrote, “The role of the spiritual leader is to lead the people to spiritual adulthood where they themselves make the kind of choices that give life depth and quality.”

I think I am pretty good at asking questions. As a journalist, I was always coming up with questions for interviews to get to the root of a story. As a student, I was inquisitive and bold enough to ask questions when it would have been easier to be silent. As a mentor and pastor, I am learning to hold back my own presuppositions and ask questions of people instead. I want to ask questions that allow for self-reflection, for silence, and for the Spirit of God to communicate to that person directly. I want to trust the Spirit in the other person enough and believe the Spirit will speak the wisdom that is needed. I don’t want to always tell people what to do. It doesn’t work well. Sometimes my advice is not right for them, and sometimes they don’t want to hear what I have to say anyway. I want others to come to a conclusion because the wisdom has passed from the Spirit of God to them. I think I can play a role in that process, but I do not want my own voice to supersede God’s.

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