Antidote to Overachievement

I succumb to a number of leadership pitfalls. One of those is the neglect of presence, translated: I'm so busy doing the work of leadership that I sacrifice being for doing, and worse, believe the lie that success rests entirely on my shoulders. It is the Elijah syndrome - the overachievement complex - and I have it.

One of the sure antidotes to an unhealthy focus on self-determination is prayer and meditation. But that's hard for a Type A to do. When I finally carve out the time to be quiet, how can I shut off my overdeveloped left brain? I'm either trying to unravel what happened yesterday (making a list of the problems) or engineering the future, making an equally long list of solutions. Yep, that's me?analyzer and a fixer. And enough of a loner that my mantra tends to be "Unless I do it, it's not going to get done." Sound familiar? As if us trees really move the wind.

Fortunately, the Psalms have consistently pulled me out of my self-reference default. They possess an unabashed honesty and an obstinate "now-ness," both of which seem to defy invasion by the didactic. In a particularly difficult period of my life, I read the Psalms exclusively for an entire year. It may be an unbalanced diet to some, but when one has an achievement setting as high as mine, an overdose on God-encounter doesn't seem possible.

During the same traumatic period in my life, I also found that going on short walks around my house and hiking familiar trails in the mountains encouraged the immediacy of soul I'd neglected. One day I realized that the Psalms I'd just read were staring back at me in the spent grass of summer; in stubborn little flowers?pushing their way through the cold earth of early spring; in unruly tangles of brush bending into a dirt road; in the bluish, crystalline water of an alpine stream. I began taking my camera and started "picturing" the texts I'd read.

A parched matrix of cracks in a creek bed pictured the spiritual dehydration described in Psalm 42:1-3: "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. But when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say to me, where is your God?"

The bent cattail in the pond near my parents' home became a metaphor for Psalm 147:3: "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."

An explosion of meadow flowers in a remote valley pictured the unbridled joy of salvation, described in Psalm 21:1, 2: "The king shall have joy in Your strength, O Lord, and in your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice! You have given him your heart's desire, and have not withheld the request of his lips."

April 20, 2007 at 4:14 PM

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