Personal effectiveness - Introduction to the series image

Personal effectiveness - Introduction to the series

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I just tried typing “maximize your effectiveness” into Google. (It’s a fairly American phrase so I went with States-side spelling.) Want to know what came up? As well as a helpful English-German translation of the phrase (Steigern Sie Ihre Effektivität!), I got a range of affiliate marketing, university and business sites with some excellent content. Revealingly, of the top ten hits, three rooted their philosophy of personal effectiveness in either Zen or Jodo Shinshu Buddhism and one in humanistic (atheistic) psychology. No mention of Jesus Christ.

For many years, I have been inspired and frustrated by reading widely available books and articles about personal effectiveness. Inspired because they have some great insights. Frustrated because they are frequently spiritually shallow or badly directed. In my work with businesses, public sector bodies and charities, I have started developing what I hope are excellent personal effectiveness approaches that are also authentically rooted in Christ.

The aim of this mini-series is to share some of these insights and start a discussion around them. In addition to this introduction, the series will consist of six posts, two each on physical effectiveness, emotional effectiveness and mental effectiveness. I will be drawing on writings on personal effectiveness, including the Bible - yes, the Bible is related to personal effectiveness - and an exciting project we are running at Emmanuel Church, Oxford called the Personal Effectiveness Project.

Given the importance of this project to this mini-series, it is worth exploring the question: What is the Personal Effectiveness Project (PEP)? You can find out more about it here. It is a pilot project taking place on three evenings between January and June 2011 involving ten participants from Emmanuel. Participants were deliberately selected as a group of people spanning a variety of ages, types of jobs and backgrounds. The PEP aims to address two questions: (1) How can we live in a way that is more physically sustainable and mentally and emotionally effective? (2) What is the relevance of this to spiritual growth? Each evening ends with each participant making a commitment to change one thing that they are doing in their lives.

To whet your appetites for the punch this project packs, a Christian teacher whom I recently coached using the same approaches said “The next day I taught better than I ever have done, enjoyed it more, and worked less hard.” Some of the PEP participants are contributing to a hilarious, heart-rending and spiritually insightful online journal of progress. Read it here and meet these participants here).

So, a key input for this mini-series will be tracking how ten people like you and me are doing with their attempts to improve their personal effectiveness. They are willing guinea pigs! I must stress that the PEP is experimental. I’ve never done anything exactly like this before. But it is rooted in an enduring conviction: maximising our physical, emotional and mental effectiveness should be related to our faith.*

That’s the core of it: this mini-series advocates personal effectiveness in a spiritual context. As the masthead proclaims, theology matters. We rightly affirm that all glory goes to God: “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name!”(Psalm 29:2; see also Psalm 66:2 and 105:3). Related to that is a desire to maximise who we are. David - to whom Psalm 29 is attributed - was interested in the effect God’s person and action would have on His people (giving strength, giving peace - verse 11). In the context of God’s glory and what he has revealed, we should be eager to make the most of who he has made us to be, including the gifts he has given us.

True spiritual intelligence you might call it. As Matt Hosier put it in an excellent recent blog post, “Where we need to exist is … in that place where we see the spiritual in everything and have our feet on the solid rock that is Jesus Christ. This is the place of true spirituality.”

My wish for this mini-series of blog posts is that you would get involved. What do you think of the concepts I present? What light does biblical truth shed on it? What is your reaction to the PEP?

Meanwhile, look out for the first post of three: Physical effectiveness. Coming soon!

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