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  • Writer's pictureAlice J Stewart

Professional Development

I've felt like my brain is coming out of a fog in the last few weeks. There's not much to do when we're in a mental and emotional fog but ride it out. I'm grateful it's behind me. But, since there's no guarantee I won't go back in, I'm doing some professional development. 

I have a list of books a mile long that I want to read. The list is daunting, growing, and I feel like I seldom cross a book off the list. 

But it's important to me to do the best job I can do, especially for what I truly care about. And I care about the Church. Deeply. I care about serving you, helping you serve the world, and serving the Church in ways it most needs so that it can fulfill its mission.

Right now, I'm serving in business ways. I'm making sure we don't lose a church. There are a million ways to serve. You're serving right now. 

What is your "professional development?" How are you making sure you do the best job you can? 

The world needs us now more than ever. If you don't have a plan to get better at what your service is, let's start. 

There are challenges. Believe me, I know. We have troubles, lack of time, and sometimes we're just in the fog. 

Right now, let's look at reading. Your "professional development" to serve the Church may not require that act of reading, but let's focus on it anyway. 

I have a mild case of dyslexia, and I regularly work two jobs. It takes me longer than most people to read and do everything else life requires. It's hard to focus and switch gears, and even with some very cool fonts (hello, OpenDyslexie!), it's still difficult for me to get through the reading I want to get through.  

And yet I have two Masters degrees, a ton of other coursework, I have my mile-long reading list I wade through, and I've written novels and stories and nationally-presented academic papers. 

Some people think my accomplishments are due to my incredible supply of energy. That's not entirely accurate, however. I work this hard to develop myself because I am motivated. 

I can't stand the idea of shoving my light under a bushel when the Church needs the best of what I can offer. I can't stand the thought of not doing my dead-level best for God and his people in this life I've been given. 

If you're motivated but don't know where to start, let me tell you how I get through a steep set of reading (although this works for other projects, too). 

  1. Find motivation. Find the passion inside yourself. If it's not there, no amount of slogging through your "professional development" will do any good.

  2. Commit to 30 minutes a day. Everyone says that I know. It can feel like if we tackle everything we want to do in 30 minutes a day, it will take 26 hours. But 30 minutes is all it takes, especially at first. 

  3. Don't kick yourself when you can't take 30 minutes a day. Recommit. Find an accountability partner. Do whatever it takes, but don't be hard on yourself. Carrot, not stick, if this is going to work.

  4. Sacrifice. No one wants to hear that, but the truth of the matter is that something must be sacrificed in our day. For me, I don't watch TV. For others, it means preparing dinners days in advance or getting to bed earlier. Please, whatever you do, do NOT sacrifice your nutrition or sleep or relationships. Those should never be sacrificed. 

  5. Write up notes on what you read - even if it's just a few sentences. Documentation feels good - even better than crossing a book off of your list - and it's super helpful to jog your memory later. 

I promise you'll be amazed at what you get done with 30 minutes a day. I also promise the Church needs every one of you to do your "professional development." Even if you're good at how you serve the Church, we can be better. 

We must be on our game when the Church needs us. And it does need us. And it will need us even more very soon. 

How can I help you in your "professional development" today? 

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