The Mindful Leader
The Mindful Leader
I think at some time in our lives we have all been there. We awaken and rather than feeling refreshed, we are overcome by feelings of anxiety. Perhaps, our relationships are going through trying times, taxes and bills are due, work is falling behind, or we aren’t feeling well. We feel like we just want to run away and hide; yet we can’t. We have obligations, and people are depending on us. We just can’t seem to focus on anything, let alone ourselves, despite our best efforts; yet a singular focus is often what is most needed. The Bible tells us when we feel this way, we should turn to God in prayer (Philippians 4:6-7 (TPT).
“Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ.”
Pope Saint Gregory I believed “contemplation was both the fruit of reflecting on the Word of God in scripture and a precious gift of God.” The Pope viewed contemplation as "resting in God" where in "resting," the mind and heart are not so much seeking God, as beginning to experience what they have been seeking (www.contemplativeoutreach.org).
Today this state of focus or being is often referred to as “mindfulness. Mindfulness isn’t just some new age therapeutic technique, it is as old as humanity itself. Biblical meditation involves purposeful thinking on wholesome topics, such as God’s qualities, standards, and creations. Francis Phillips (www.catholicherald.com) says that:
“Prayer is “the raising of the mind and heart to God”. This is “mindfulness” in its most complete sense when, along with the “heart”, traditionally the seat of love, we rest in the presence of God.”
The Bible mentions prayer at least 650 times and contains no less than 15 passages in which the word meditation appears. Prayer was so important that Jesus began every day with prayer. Mark 1:35 tells us:
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
If, as leaders, we strive to lead like Jesus wouldn’t it make sense to start our days like Jesus? I can tell from both professional and personal experience that workplace conflict, misunderstandings, and miscommunication would be greatly reduced if we could just be “mindful”, if we could just “think before we speak.”
If you don’t think that the simple act of mindfulness can really benefit you as a leader consider that Research from INSEAD Business School (Wharton University, 2013)) found that doing just 15 minutes of mindfulness-based meditation can lead to more rational thinking when making business decisions. If it feels like mindfulness or prayer can’t possibly have these kinds of effect, it’s just too simplistic; consider that Inc. magazine (December 2014) reported that “Mindful Leaders” have happier employees and increased morale, experience greater creativity and lead better teamwork. Now there’s a newsflash for you:
“Prayer can make you a more effective leader by helping decrease conflict, improve communication, and improve relationships.”
Our prayer doesn’t have to be a long and prolonged prayer; if you are struggling for what to pray, you are probably overthinking it. Our prayer should be a simple prayer, or meditation on God’s Word if you prefer, to guide your daily leadership activities like the prayer found in Psalm 19:14 (TPT)
“So, may the words of my mouth, my meditation-thoughts, and every movement of my heart be always pure and pleasing, acceptable before your eyes, my only Redeemer, my Protector-God.”
So how can we achieve these results? How do we pray for this kind of prayer? You can literally find hundreds of research articles and techniques to prepare for this type of prayer; or your can just do what Jesus did “find a quiet, solitary place and pray.”
Isn’t it curious, we can glean from all these research findings and insights what we already know from the Bible; a book that is not an academic treatise filled with experiments and studies; but based simply on God’s Word or as Psalm 119:160; says “The very essence of your words is truth;”
So, the next time you find yourself having to rebuke or counsel an employee or loved one, or make an important decision, or are struggling for answers; just go to a quiet, solitary place and pray.
Remember God’s Word (Proverbs 15:28 (NLT):
“The heart of the righteous one meditates before answering.”
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