On a hot balmy night last week, during a quick adventure in Asia, I found myself walking off a bus and into the UNESCO World heritage site of the old town, Hoi An.
Located in South Central Coast region of Vietnam, it's name translated to a "peaceful meeting place".
Along the river there are hoards of local children and women selling lanterns that tourists can place into the river, with the ancient belief to make a wish whilst doing so and the town itself is beautifully lit up with street food, music, local artists and a buzz of shops that sell trinkets and even tailored clothes in less than 4 hours!
As lovely as this town was, I walked into the back area of the town towards this dragon-like bridge when something not quite nice happened. It was a stench that covered all my senses and it was coming from... the water. Odd. It is not often that water could smell this bad, but today it was definitely from the water at the end of the river area that was still. This part of the river was motionless, stagnant and had no momentum in any direction and was almost evaporating.
I am unsure about the exact reason for this, but it did remind me of a key topic area we often forget about; Growth.
In John Maxwell's book, The 15 Invaluable laws of growth, he puts it like this – "You decide where you need or want to grow, you choose what you will and you follow through with discipline going at a pace you set." Growth is not just making goals or setting tasks. It got me thinking about how intentional I am about my personal growth. Have I got a personal growth plan? Do I assume that I will automatically grow as I become older? What would I attempt if I knew I could not fail?
These questions and many more raced through my head and I found myself deep in thought about how important growth is to my own personal life, but more importantly my future influence. It was Eleanor Roosevelt who once said "One's philosophy is not best expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility."
So what are the choices we are making?
In 1 Timothy 4 verse 15 (NIV) it says "Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Here, Paul is speaking to Timothy, who is like a son to him and is developing into a leader himself. Similarly, in 1 Samuel 3 verses 19 - 20 it says "As Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord."
Both Timothy and Samuel above, had to make key choices about where they wanted to go and who they wanted to be. They didn't both wake up one morning and be the people that the bible records them as – Timothy travelled with Paul, and served not just as a companion but as a pastor, with a key characteristic of having authentic faith (Acts 16 verse 4) and Samuel who was the last of the judges, who was noted to be honest, fair and loving God without question.
Whilst both heroes of the faith had an amazing community of people either leading them or mentoring them – it was ultimately their choice about where they wanted to grow and how they would do so.
This brings me to the key questions that I've found myself asking (courtesy of John Maxwell):
- Growth doesn't just happen. Do I intentionally have a growth plan?
- I must know myself to grow myself. Am I aware of my strengths/weaknesses?
- Pausing allows growth to catch up to me. Do I give myself time to reflect on how I am tracking?
These questions and many more have changed my mindset to one that is more intentional about how I spend my time and energy, after all – everyone has experiences daily, but not every one learns a lesson from them and I want to be someone that does.
Meenal Chandra is a Sydney based writer knows that life is now in session and wants to be present for it.
Meenal Chandra's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/meenal-chandra.html