An Ocean View is a Necessity, Not a Luxury

Whenever I feel like I’ve reached a plateau, what really helps me is to get a fresh set of eyes on the problem. I’m fortunate to have a business development team of six people working with me to further Coaching4Clergy’s vision of going global. In just a short time, I’ve been amazed at the power of putting our heads together and synergizing our thoughts. And boy, did it ever get me unstuck. We broke right through.

Whenever I’ve done visioning or strategic planning with churches I pastored, or with other churches, one of the first key steps we did was to get into the community to interview key people- to get a fresh set of eyes on things. We’d talk to the police chief, librarian, school principals and the Chamber of Commerce about the greatest needs of the community, and how the church might meet those needs.

Almost every time, church leaders who’d been around for years found out they didn’t know their community nearly as well as they thought they did.

As I’ve written before, there’s a real benefit for pastors who will look outside your aquarium – expanding your focus to seek out potential congregants who haven’t found their own way to you. And this kind of ocean view isn’t limited to your efforts as a pastor; you can also apply it to any situation you’re facing or struggling with. In your own mind, you may think you’ve exhausted all the elements, but you don’t know what you don’t know (the “unconscious competence” stage of the learning model).

Einstein said that the mind that thought of the problem cannot solve it. We need an outside perspective to see our situation in a new light and stretch past the limits of our own world view. Here are three key ways to seek out this ocean view and get some fresh eyes on your circumstances:

  1. Take a breather – Walking away from a brain teaser, even for a few minutes, can help you unclench your jaw, loosen your shoulders and open up your mind to new inspiration.
  2. Imagine what someone else would say – I have my own virtual advisory board of experts I can turn to in my mind when I need their unique insights or suggestions.
  3. Seek out new opinions – Break out of your comfort zone and look for answers outside of your congregation, community or regular circle of people.

We did this last month on the blog, when Coaching4Clergy faculty member Trigena Halley applied her insights from the corporate world to the world of ministry. And we’ll be continuing the practice throughout this month. Next week, you can visit my blog for my quick chat with Patch Adams of the Gesundheit Institute to learn his “prescription” for today’s pastors. Then be sure to check the blog all month long for new insights from other creative thinkers who are definitely outside our regular circles.

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J. Val Hastings

J. Val Hastings, MCC, is the Founder and President of Coaching4Clergy, which provides specialized training for pastors, church leaders and coaches. Val is the author of the book The Next Great Awakening: How to Empower God’s People with a Coach Approach to Ministry and the e-book The E3-Church: Empowered, Effective and Entrepreneurial Leadership That Will Keep Your Church Alive. Val currently holds the designation of Master Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation, the highest coaching designation.

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