The Compass or the Clock

Posted by: DVULI | June 22, 2023

Guest Essay by JoAnn Dean (Atlanta 2014) 

The words “You are the mission” rang out! They lifted my view and vibration. They gave me a new vision and validated my viewpoint.

You are the mission, for me, meant wherever I found myself serving, whether celebrating an accomplishment with a friend, helping a child with homework, assisting a seasoned senior who needed help with the computer, or praying for an overwhelmed group of mothers, all these events were entrusted to my care; therefore, they were a part of my mission.

I reached the point in my soul when my leadership fuel was running low. I thought what I needed was more time, but what I really needed was my compass for clear direction.

I had put away my compass and started running against the clock. Almost running on empty, I asked God for instructions on how to refuel and fill the gap broadening in my life.

According to Stephen Covey’s book First Things First, “The clock represents our commitments, appointments, schedules, goals, activities—what we do with, and how we manage our time. The compass represents our vision, values, principles, mission, conscience, and direction—what we feel is important and how we lead our lives. The struggle comes when we sense a gap between the clock and the compass—when what we do doesn’t contribute to what is most important in our lives.”

The mission of serving others has always satisfied me. So, what changed that led to a near-empty tank?

I transitioned from the workforce as a social worker to full-time ministry. That changed my title and shifted my mindset. I thought I had to become someone else to succeed in the role of the pastor’s wife. I wrestled with this limiting belief. After all, I am a trained, spirit-led social worker who serves with all my heart. Just because my title changed, I didn’t have to, but I did. I found myself shrinking, believing this was biblical submission.

I took on the mindset that in ministry and marriage, there could only be one vision. The thought of the possibility of my vision no longer becoming a reality incited rage in me. I privately processed these feelings. What was the root of this thinking? It stemmed from some of the teachings I received growing up in church.

As a social worker and life coach, I possess a certain skill set. This background, combined with the support I received from DVULI, helped me course-correct in a condensed amount of time.

It extinguished the rage and filled the void by connecting with other leaders, worshipping, learning, and gaining practical tools. I reconnected with myself and extended gratitude for this experience leading me here.

Understanding who we are, what we value, and how it impacts everything we do is premium fuel. Releasing myself from the pressure of my new title and other titles allowed me to freely flow in my purpose as a leader.

You’re probably wondering how I released the pressure:

  • It began with self-reflection. How did I get here?
  • I took responsibility for my well-being.
  • I asked for help while affirming God’s word over my life.
  • I recognized help when it showed up as an invitation to join DVULI.
  • I was present for the lessons and the blessings in the form of support and guidance.
  • For as long as I can remember, I’ve believed in the power of journaling.
  • I communicated with my spouse about how I felt.
  • I gave myself grace as I applied the new knowledge.
  • I wrote down the values for the new version of me. And those values drive my decision-making.

Today I use my voice through writing, teaching, and speaking, helping others to heal and embrace all of who they are.

I am the mission.