Annual Reflection Habits
This time of year tends to being many reminders and opportunities for reflection on what God has done and what we are thankful for. Last week, as many of us celebrated Thanksgiving, we probably spent some time pausing and reflecting on what we are thankful for this year with our friends and family.
It’s great to have some of this time built into our years in the form of national holidays. In addition, maybe you use natural moments of transition to do this as well: your birthday, a new calendar year, a new fiscal year, an anniversary, and more.
However we decide to do it, it’s simply important that we do so as Christian executives. Moments to pause, remember, reflect, celebrate, and give thanks are all throughout Scripture.
The first example is as early as when God created the earth. On each of the six days, at the end of the day, God looked at what He created that day to see that it was good. From there we see examples of pause and reflection sprinkled throughout the text of the Bible, and we will look at a few.
Reflection Throughout Scripture
In Genesis 12, Abram stopped on a couple of occasions to pause and build an alter to the Lord in remembrance of what He had done. When others would pass by, it was a reminder that God is faithful. For the Israelites who often forgot what God had done for them, this served as a physical reminder. Moses later warned the Israelites to not forget what their eyes had seen or let these things fade from their hearts; they should even teach them to their children and their children’s’ children (Deuteronomy 4:9).
Samuel set an “Ebenezer stone,” like Abram’s monuments. In 1 Samuel 7:12, Samuel and the Israelites defeated the Philistines who had long threatened their territory. It says, “Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen.”
He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the LORD has helped us.’” Again, this served as a physical reminder to the Israelites, who turned to idol worship, that trusting in anything or anyone before God would lead to failure. Then there’s a word in the Old Testament, specifically in the Psalms, that doesn’t seem to have a direct translation from the original Hebrew, and that word is “Selah.”
The definition has been debated but based on its placement in the Psalms many believe a close translation of the word is “pause and reflect.”
In a song or a Psalm, when “Selah” was used, participants or readers would take a moment to consider what they sang or read before continuing forward. In the New Testament, in Luke 22:19, Jesus instructed the disciples to take Communion.
“Do this in remembrance of me.” Jesus asks us to remember him and what he did for us as we practice our faith. In fact, the Christian faith is built on the foundation of remembering Jesus’ death and resurrection.
“I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” – Psalm 77:11-12
Following the Example
We can be sure it is an important discipline for Christian business leaders to pause, remember, and reflect if God, Jesus, and several prophets emphasized it. First, to pause causes us to take some time away from continuing to push new things forward. There’s a temptation in many of us to move right to the next thing without taking time to celebrate a win. When a project wraps up, there is always another to take its place.
However, when you take time to pause and reflect before moving to the next thing, not only will it help your team feel valued for their work but it allows you to remember “all that we have accomplished [God] has done for us” (Isaiah 26:12).
In Deuteronomy 8:10-18 the Israelites are warned that they will become proud if they do not remember God in their successes. Giving God His credit in your successes helps to remember you are a steward of the business God has you positioned to lead in. We do not rely on our own strength, and we practice thanksgiving for what God has done. It also allows us to reflect on what led to success in the project. When we understand what went well, we can continue to work in a similar fashion to hopefully bring about future successes as well.
We can also recognize that some things might not have gone well and what can we do differently to bring a different outcome in the future?
Reflecting on mistakes and failures gives us an opportunity to redeem them.
If we never examine what went wrong, then we may not know how to prevent it from happening again. Mistakes and failures don’t have to be devastating when we see them as learning opportunities. The Ebenezer stone in 1 Samuel 7:12 served not only as a reminder that God continued to help His people, but that their previous suffering was from putting their trust in idols instead of God. Sometimes we need an Ebenezer stone that can serve as a reminder of where we don’t want to return and a history we don’t want to repeat.
Reflection also brings accountability to personal and business goals that were set. Were those goals reached? If not, what prevented the person or the business from accomplishing them? How can similar barriers be overcome in the future?
Having a process to review progress, success on completed goals, and failure to meet goals is important to keeping your business on track. It can also help you, as a Christian executive, to consider how the ways you are working and doing business are glorifying to God. If you sense you’ve missed the mark somewhere, consider how you might make adjustments going forward so you can continue to honor God in your work and business.
Put It Into Practice
As a Christian business leader, how might you pause, remember, reflect, and give thanks in a fresh way this year in your business? If you lead a team of people, how can you invite them into this process if you haven’t already?
Taking time to do this is a great opportunity to celebrate team wins, thank God for what He has done in your business, understand a failure, and identify where you might need to set your sights going forward. It’s a biblical practice since the creation of the world that we hope you take part in as 2022 nears its close.