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Hope is a heck of a thing. It is this strange state of mind that, even given difficult circumstances, one still believes things will turn out okay. I saw hope last week.

There is an aging couple that sits two or three rows in front of me at church each Sunday. They are living illustrations of hope. The husband is a bit feeble and 85 years old if he’s a day. His wife is a bit more vibrant and gently cares for him assisting him as he walks. I don’t know how long they have been married but I’m guessing it’s more than five decades.

I’ve never had a conversation with these two aging saints but I’ve learned something about them simply by watching their behavior. One thing I know is that they are the poster children of hope. How do I know that? Here’s how…

Last week I watched them all throughout the run of worship songs during the first half of the service. They both love the worship time and each fully engages even though the man doesn’t do a very good job clapping in time. He wants to but he always seems to be a little behind the beat. That just makes me smile and I love his enthusiasm.

The last song of the worship run was It Is Well With My Soul. As the song began they sat side by side pressing against each other. As they held hands I could tell the song was special to them. They were into it. And when that powerful and comforting last verse came I think they sang the verse while floating just a bit off the pew. During the last verse each of their outer arms lifted in worship palms up. They almost looked like one person, but double wide. As they sang those powerful words I knew it was well with their souls.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Old…aging…slow…you bet they are. Trusting…believing…living those moments in the flow of God’s love…absolutely!

Now that’s hope.


I’m embarrassed by how quickly I question both my value and God’s love for me just because I experience a slow month. I’m learning to make a slow month my friend but it isn’t easy. Given what I do as a vocation — speaking, mentoring and life-coaching — the volume of my work ebbs and flows. I have months where my schedule is packed with meaningful opportunities to both present and engage people. January of this year was like that and September will be like that. Then there are months like the month I’m in right now. Only one speaking engagement on the calendar. ‘Slow months’ – I don’t have many of them, but when they come…I hate ‘em. God would like for me to befriend them but what does He know?

For me, it is these vocational slow times that open the door to fear and anxiety. And in my life fear leads me to think some pretty weird thoughts. Thoughts like…does anyone still care about what I bring to the table? Do my voice and ministry still matter? Am I becoming irrelevant? These questions reflect the kind of insecurity I felt in junior high school when I was fat and not very well liked? It’s a little embarrassing to admit those immature thoughts still have access to my heart and mind. I know better.

Now, I’ve been walking with the Lord long enough (since 1969) and doing the work of authentic leadership long enough (full time since 1995) to know that God is both good and faithful. He controls this world and my vocational opportunities are part of His world. But even with all this God-drenched experience, peace tends to flee from me like a scared rabbit when confusing circumstances present themselves.

Maybe you know something about confusing circumstances and ‘slow months.’ Maybe your ‘slow month’ expresses itself in that your ministry isn’t currently growing or possibly you are in the middle of an ugly relational conflict or one of your kids is acting up or your teaching isn’t being well received or your marriage is rocky or you feel like you are only making a marginal impact or you lost your job or there is intense resistance to the good you are trying to do. Who knows? I’m guessing that I’m not the only guy who occasionally feels small, forgotten and generally like a spiritual wimp during such times? There isn’t one authentic leader that I know who has been spared of such times.

Now, I know better than to allow fear or insecurity to dominate me like a mean older brother. After all, I do have history with God. Over the years God has shown me time after time the benefits of a slow month but every time one comes I have to learn to be open all over again.

God has shown me ‘slow months’ serve up lessons if I’ll stop worrying and listen. He has shown me that these times give an opportunity to learn trust lessons where I see my fear get knocked down by the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness. During such times I’ve also learned attention lessons where God tells me to wake up and see or do something new. Most importantly, the Lord has shown me that these times can push me back to reacquaint myself with my core purpose. And maybe, just maybe, that’s the best thing about ‘slow months.’

Over the years I have created a document that I find myself returning to during months like this. It’s a document that contains clear statements about what I believe, what I’m about as a man and what I see as my talents – values – and passions. When I come back to it and talk with the Lord about it, I find God’s peace filling me and my heart getting reset for the future. In the revisiting I find both the energy to face any problem and the courage to address any fear.

This document enables me to recapture on a soul level my core purpose. I believe that my core purpose is found at the intersection of my talents – values – and passions.

My talent has to do with what I bring to the party. Talent is the vehicle through which I impact and touch the world. My talent has to do with my ‘sacred trust.’ It is about the gifts, abilities and experiences God has entrusted to me. It is what God has placed into my hand that must be thrown down before Him and used in the service of others. Some of my talents are ideation, communication, leadership, guiding and empathy.

My values are what matter most to me. They show me the place at which I want to make my contribution. These are mountains on which I will fight and die. It is the ‘what matters most’ list. Some of my values are authenticity, faith, generosity, freedom and acceptance.

My passions are the juice of life. They show themselves when life and energy fill me. Being alert to the presence of life and energy in me reveals volumes. Some of my passions are understanding, discovery, guiding and connecting.

So, when talents – values – and passions collide…presto — core purpose gets exposed.

I believe every authentic leader sooner or later drills down into their soul and does the work to get clear on his or her core purpose. It is a work that takes the help of others. How can we live authentically if we are unclear concerning our core purpose?

Many of the life-coaching processes I do with people help them sort out their core purpose. It’s very cool to see the difference in someone who gets clear on core purpose and lives from that place verses someone who simply goes with the flow of modern culture caving into the shallowness of conformity.

So, here I am on May 12 of 2010 reviewing my core purpose while being assured by God that He is still with me and holds my future in His hand. And if it takes a slow month to get me once again to this place of peace and clarity…well then, bring on the slow months (just not many of them).

By the way…if you need a little help with discovering your core purpose and living the life you are meant to live…check out my Life-Planning process. Maybe it’s time for you to slow down and get clear on you.

(http://www.authenticleadershipinc.com/pdf/LifePlanSpecial.pdf)

Dan Webster  –  http://www.authenticleadershipinc.com/