What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is “awareness that arises in the moment without judgment”. As Christian leaders it is imperative that we enter into conversations and remain in a mindful space for the benefit of the people we lead. When we can achieve that, we have the opportunity to nurture a place of refuge for our teams.
Is mindfulness a secular or non-Christian practice?
A common misperception of mindfulness is that you, as the coach, “empty” your mind. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a Christian leader myself, I want to help you shift your understanding of mindfulness to a focus on “stilling the mind.”
An important place where mindfulness “flows” into Cristian leadership is in the “stillness” that it creates: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Invite God into those places when you lack wisdom, peace, discernment, calmness, and confidence.
Mindfulness integrates seamlessly with Christian leadership. Here are some of the personal benefits that come with mindfulness that, incidentally, are scientifically verified.
Benefits of mindfulness:
- Decreases stress, anxiety, rumination, worry, depression, and pain
- Increases well-being and emotional regulation
- Guides us into being fully present (able to listen vs. lost in thought)
Practicing mindfulness with those you lead
A leader I was working with was sharing his journey of helping a church staff member navigate a challenging season. The staff member’s performance was not what he was accustomed to: flourishing ministry, empowered teams, and supportive colleagues. Instead, his reputation was suffering. As the lead pastor shared some of the difficult decisions he was struggling through, I offered to “hold space” (establishing a place of refuge) for him. This gave him an opportunity to sit quietly and discern what God wanted to say. Rather than chastisement – he felt empowered. I paused for a moment during our prayer and in silence asked the Holy Spirit to comfort, encourage and clarify what my friend needed to do in this uncomfortable situation.
Mindfulness facilitates a heightened level of sensitivity and discernment to identify moments to pause and “hold space” for clients. Building your mindfulness ability is just like developing any other habit: you need to focus on a certain muscle group, system in your body, or skill you want to master. Focus and consistent practice and exercise will accelerate your development.
7 habits to nurture mindfulness*:
- Breathe – take 3-5 deep breaths. Focus on opening your chest and expanding your belly on the intake, pause briefly, and exhale through your nose.
- Pray – find a quiet place, clear your mind, and pray.
- Walk – take a walk around the block.
- Practice – take the opportunity to stay present in the various conversations you have throughout the day.
- Gratitude – journal a list of things you are thankful for.
- Read – read a book for pleasure that is not related to your work.
- Meditate – find a passage of scripture that resonates and focus on it during breaks from work.
*Neuroscience supports the notion that if you can break a certain line of thinking for 90 seconds you can interrupt the thought
Reflection Questions to Enhance Your Mindfulness As a Christian Leader
- Describe those times when you remain fully present.
- What is happening when you allow your mind to wander?
- What is/are the triggers?
- When you realize your mind is elsewhere, how have you gotten back on track?
- Decide on one or more of the habits from the list above that you will adopt.
October 17 is right around the corner, and you know what that means… Our 5 Discipleship Coach Habits Webinar is finally launching! After putting a lot of time and effort into creating this training approach to disciple making, we are so excited to finally begin this journey with anyone who feels ready to take the next step in their discipleship coaching. The cohort launches on October 17, 2022 from 10am-3pm PST.