What your learn when you are sick

For the past month I have had a series of related illnesses that have forced me to rearrange my schedule. It is interesting that until something like this happens we are trapped by a schedule that seems brutal and controlling. But for much of the past 30 days, I was forced to remain close to home, most of the time in bed. It was interesting to me that people understood without question when I rescheduled appointments, canceled some, rearranged some responsibilities, etc. The idea was, "oh, you are sick so you have a valid excuse."

It forced me to think about who ultimately controls my life? Recently I had the privilege of attending a StrengthsFinders workshop. One of the requirements was that I needed to purchase the book, take the test online, and then bring the results to the workshop. I have taken many tests over the course of the past 25 years: TJTA, Meyers-Briggs, LIFO, Firo-B, DISC, The Flag, Spiritual Gifts inventories, Miller, Minnesota Multi-Phasic, Sanguin/Choleric/Meloncholy/Phlegmatic, Gary Smalley's test on personality, and others I can't even remember. They all seek to describe me within the context they are measuring, whether it be what kind of a leader I am? what is my personality? how do I relate to people? what are my strengths in leadership, management, interpersonal, etc.?

Interestingly enough almost all of them describe me as I believe myself to be. Whether it is that belief that skews the test so that it comes out that way, who really knows. They try to put in safe guards that create a sense of honesty even if you are trying to make yourself "look" good. I have had others take the above tests on me and they seem to come out pretty much the way I view myself. So my conclusion is that I pretty well know myself and these have given me tools in how to explain myself to others in a variety of working or leisure settings.

In the StrengthsFinders test my top one is: WOO (Winning People Over) - this was not a surprise to anyone who has known me for longer than an hour. My goal in life is to make friends with everyone I meet, and get to know them at a deeper level than superficial. This was not a surprise to me because other tests, Meyers-Briggs for one has me as an ENFP (Extrovert, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving). In Smalley's tests I am an Otter, which is really a Sanguin. In the Flag test my country is "Fun Country" with "Peace Country" my support. So the fact that I came out WOO was not a surprise. But I began thinking.

Perhaps it is this WOO/Sanguin/otter/ENFP/Fun Country characteristic that is my strength and my major weakness. As I said in an earlier paragraph I am not good at controlling my calendar because primarily I don't want to let others down. And as you know people have a way of throwing guilt around pretty readily when you don't have time for them, or they feel they are not a high enough priority in your life.

This illness has me thinking that perhaps the greatest thing I can do as a WOO is take care of me. If I have a genuine illness people understand, but what about when I simply need to stop and take care of myself and my soul.

A recent discovery (which is really not new) is that when interviewed, most pastors confess that the "care of their own soul" is a high need and desire, but a low priority in their lives. I have been asked to do some work related to the "Soul Care" of clergy and when asked where would I start, my response was simply with their schedule. This caused the individual, who is BTW the one organizing the program, to look at me funny. I suppose he wanted me to talk about prayer, devotions, silence, solitude, and any number of other spiritual disciplines. But when I said to him that without this initial discipline of control of time and schedule, we can dream all we want about soul care and priorities, but until we make those priorities fit into our schedule they are highly unlikely to happen. I believe he agreed with me, we will see if he gives me any work :-).

Well that is my rambling for today.