Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our former Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.
This series of posts explores the topic “knowing God” – what it is, what it is not, why it is important, how it is possible and why it is relevant to marketplace leaders in the twenty-first century.
THE NEED TO BE ALL THAT I CAN BE
“I think you should be a child for as long as you can. I have been successful for 74 years being able to do that. Don’t rush into adulthood, it isn’t all that much fun.” ~Bob Newhart, comedian
“But I think Steve [Job’s] main contribution besides just the pure leadership is his passion for excellence. He’s a perfectionist. Good enough isn’t good enough. And also his creative spirit. You know he really, really wants to do something great.” ~Andy Hertzfeld, member of original Apple Macintosh development team
In his book “Soul Cravings,” Erwin McManus says, “…there is a drive within us all. We are designed with a need to move forward. Without it our lives become only shadows of what they could have been. You can live without pursuing a dream, you can function without passion, but with each passing moment, your soul will become more and more anemic.”
Bob Newhart’s admonition notwithstanding, I think I was wired to exit childhood early! McManus’s assertion strongly resonates with me. From a young age, I aspired to move forward quickly. In my youth, my future direction was somewhat fuzzy and ill-defined. Nonetheless, I experienced a deep inner drive to push forward.
I think some of this impetus came via my father. A very successful lawyer, he instilled in me a desire to be all that I could be – as long as I became a lawyer, doctor, rocket scientist or prime minister!
Ultimately, I went my own way. Business became my vehicle for self actualization. I wanted to get to the top yesterday! It seems the drive to excel is inextricably intertwined with hard work and sacrifice. And my toughest taskmaster was me!
It didn’t help that, in common with many leaders, I had (and still have) a perfectionist streak. I never met Steve Jobs but the opening quote suggests he was also afflicted by perfectionism. And we perfectionists can be restless! Indeed, we always fall short of perfect because absolutely no one is. No one, that is, except God of the Bible.
When I became a follower of Jesus, my desire for self actualization was turned on its head. The question was no longer “how can I be all that I can be?” Rather, it was “how can I be all that God wants me to be?” The difference between these two questions is immense and has profound ramifications.
In effect, following my initial encounter with Jesus, my reference grid changed from self-centered aspirations to God-centered aspirations. Am I consistent? No! However, it seems that God ensures I don’t venture out too far on my self-centered limb before I experience a desire to ask the following question regarding my choices, “Lord, what is in this choice for you?”
I did not jettison my desire for excellence in my professional and personal life. However, pleasing God became my number one priority. My intent was not to earn His favour but rather to express my gratitude for the unmerited favour He had already shown me by adopting me into His family and making Himself known to me.
Is your desire to be all that God wants you to be? Next week, I’ll consider the need to know where I’m going?
Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.