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“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight” (Philippians 1:9)
As I write this article, I am three days away from finishing my counseling internship and graduating with my Masters of Professional Counseling. Two weeks ago, I shared one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from my internship: everyone has a story, so take the time to listen before you judge them. Last week, I shared another important lesson I have learned from my internship: Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind. This week, I wanted to share one more lesson: Show up with a plan.
I am by nature a very go-with-the-flow person. I am good at showing up and responding to what comes my way. This can be very helpful as both a counselor and pastor, as I can be very flexible and adaptable in any given situation. However, being a good counselor is about more than just being responsive to a client’s needs. It is also about showing up with a plan, having a vision of where the client needs to go, and working with them to get there.
At my best, therefore, my counseling looked like this: at the outset of our time together, I would work collaboratively with a client to develop a treatment plan, which identified what the problem was, what the goal was (in the client’s own words), what the client would learn or do in order to reach that goal, and what I would do or teach as the therapist in order to help the client reach that goal. Then, in our subsequent sessions together, I would use the treatment plan which we had created to guide me. I would show up with a plan for each session, while also being ready to flex depending upon what the client brought to me. Some days, a client would have a crisis or life experience that needed to be focused upon. Other days, I would take more of the lead, bringing what I had brought to the table and guiding the client closer to his or her goal.
When it comes to any form of discipleship – mentoring, parenting, leadership – I believe the idea holds true: show up with a plan. Work with the person you are charged with leading to identify the goal, and what you each need to do in order to achieve that goal. If the goal is to lead someone into the presence of God, how will you do that? If the goal is to increase someone’s knowledge of the Bible, what resources will you use? If the goal is to overcome an addiction or break a pattern of sin, how will you help the person to reach that goal? There will be times when you get together and are responsive to what the mentee, child, or disciple brings to the table. But there are other times when you need to lead, using the plan you have put in place.
Flexibility and adaptability are great strengths. But if you are in leadership, that can not be the main skill you lead with. Show up with a plan.
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