Monday, August 31, 2009

A New Dawn

Last week I took my Focus Leadership Institute staff for a two day off-site retreat. We drove out of the Springs to a semi-remote location - Christhaven Lodge. The goals of the retreat were to (1) build a deeper understanding of each other; (2) build a deeper understanding of the transition we were undertaking; and (3) to get pumped up about the next set of students coming in. By this time of the academic year (i.e. August) our staff is just plain pooped. We sort of live our lives along with the academic year, thus the Fall is the "kickoff". We had changed some staff, added a couple, changed our name, adapted our curriculum and implementing a new marketing approach. There is a lot to be excited about, but also a lot of hours and hard work have gone into this (and still is) so they are tired.

So....what was my plan? First we spent the afternoon doing some activities related to Myers-Briggs - (figuring out we have a bunch of extroverts - which explains a lot about the overwhelmed introverts who show up at the Institute); Strengthsfinder (and learning that we've got just the right folks in our two key areas - "learner" and "empathy" - which define our academic and community aspects of the program); and Spiritual Gifts (and confirming I need to surround myself with folk with "mercy" since that is WAY down my list). After dinner we had some "forced fun" and ended up in an incredibly competitive and creative game of charades and pictionary. Sometime before I run for public office I will have to burn the pictures of me acting out the TV show Lassie. :) Right before turning in, I introduced the theme for our year; the dawn. Then I asked a great deal of them... I want you gathered at 6am to watch the sun rise.

Man, they were great troopers and even though a few saw the sun rise through sleepy eyes, we shared that moment. We also talked about what Scripture has to say about the dawn, sunrise, the morning star, etc. My question to them was, "what happens when the sun comes up?"

We figured out that even though we were struggling with some of the transition, it was always darkest before the dawn. Also we found that the dawn brought a feeling of new life. We saw that God promises the same thing in our own lives when we commit what we are doing to Him. He reveals paths and direction when the sun comes up. We see things for what they really are when the sun comes up. It may reveal some absolute beauty but also the dirt of our lives. The sun rise is about rebirth and renewal. That is our hope and prayer for this year - we would be renewed in our passion to see college-aged student's hearts touched, minds engaged, and lives transformed to live it out in this world. One of our big challenges this year comes from a motto of a church down in Atlanta; "Love God, Love your Neighbors, Prove it."

May this season be a dawn for each of you too...

P.S. Thanks to Jeff Abel who took this wonderful shot of the sunrise at the Grand Canyon last year...