Becoming a growing disciple of the Lord requires that we respond to the “defining moments” placed before us on the path of life. The dictionary defines “defining moments” as: a point at which the essential nature or character of a person, group, etc., is revealed or identified. Though it is not a biblical phrase there are many “defining moments” in the Bible that reveal the character of those involved. We might say that the Bible is the ultimate Book of Defining Moments as it still determines the character that is revealed under pressure of modern-day disciples. This article discusses the nature of defining moments as related to disciples of Jesus Christ and how they might miss those defining moments based on personality types- DISC.
A SEIZED DEFINING MOMENT
On January 15, 2009 Captain Chesley Burnett ”Sully” Sullenberger III had a defining moment as he crash landed his stricken U.S. Airways plane onto the surface of the Hudson River with 155 passengers all of whom survived. Captain “Sully” said that he had been preparing all of his career for that one defining moment. Characteristic of defining moments, Captain Sully had no time to reflect and consider, “Is this a defining moment?” Will you be ready for your defining moment?
UNDERSTANDING DEFINING MOMENTS
An online dialogue about defining moments with other leadership specialists revealed several issues. Perhaps some of those points of discussion will help us understand defining moments better and here are some questions:
- Is it possible to miss defining moments?
- If we can miss defining moments, is it possible to learn to recognize them at the crucial point of decision?
- Is it possible to anticipate defining moments?
- Is it possible to recapture a defining moment?
We may safely say that every person has missed a defining moment and probably more than several during their lifetime. We are not simply talking about small situations that may be “fixed” after our first reaction or poor decision but we are talking about those life-altering, life changing decisions that are rare. Like lightning strikes, they strike rarely and seldom in the same place, situation, or set of people. They are deal-makers and deal-breakers for people and organizations. They go with the saying, “You snooze, you lose.” Receiving the full benefit of a defining moment requires quick judgment and tapping in to knowledge and skill built up over many years. Thus, one may prepare for future defining moments by being at the top of one’s field and career. This is where mastering the details will pay off.
Missing defining moments may help us recognize defining moments as they present themselves. We do not choose defining moments, they choose us. Great leaders learn to recognize them instantly and take appropriate action. Your action or inaction will define you. They are like exams for which you receive the lectures and answers later. The problem is that some defining moments that reveal our character are costly. Those are the ones we regret and replay over and over wishing we could get the moment back.
Defining moments are often missed, as they come and go with no warning because they are often subtle. Defining moments are probably not like the CEO who calls your phone to offer a job, gets a busy signal, and then proceeds to call the next person on the list. They are moments when we may remember later that we should have done something differently.
A MISSED DEFINING MOMENT
When in high school I played on the football team. Small and thin, I was not well positioned as a lineman on offence and a linebacker on defense but that was where I was placed when I went out for the team. The next year during spring training the coach sprang something new on several of us. I found myself in a drill carrying the ball through tacklers. In the drill I was to move forward like a tailback and receive the ball from the quarterback when the ball was snapped. Then of course I was to run through the lines of the opposing tacklers. I did not give it my best effort. I was still trying to figure out what was going on. When I should have been concentrating on giving my all, I was asking myself, “Self, why am I doing this. Yea but I’m a linebacker or a guard or a tackle. What is the coach doing?” It did not take long for me to be defined as a linebacker or a guard or a tackle. It was not until later…years later, that I realized that was a defining moment that I missed. When playing football in the yard, my friends would compliment me on my balance and how difficult it was for them to tackle me. But I failed to make the connection that one day the coach tried me out for a different position. Another day like that never came and I often wonder what it might have been like to score a touchdown for the team. Notice that “yea buts” kill the opportunity presented in defining moments.
Some defining moments cost little but others are costly. So, how can you prepare? If you have a developed life-plan, passion, and purpose you have a better chance to see a defining moment when it arrives. Get a life-coach and work on your plan-passion-purpose as soon as you can.
DEFINING MOMENTS REQUIRE PRESENCE
We live in an exciting time of technology with cell phones that have texting, instant messaging, Skyping, email, music, movies, games, and voice calls at our disposal 24/7/365. The problem is that defining moments attract distractions. Further, the distractions will certainly cause you to miss a defining moment. Acting on defining moments requires you to live in the present which means that you must turn off all of the distractions. Practicing presence is a developed skill of living and being in the moment and making eye contact instead of dozing off. Nobody sleeping ever caught a defining moment wave…they always miss it!
DEFINING MOMENTS AND DISC
Many people in leadership training are familiar with DISC personality type profiles. They are not predictors or definers of one’s actions but they are remarkably accurate in many applications. Each personality type may react to defining moments differently. When it comes to missing a defining moment, each personality type tends to be predisposed to miss it in unique ways:
Dominant (D) personalities have great potential to respond quickly to a defining moment in a positive manner. However, Ds have a habit of being busy controlling situations and events. Defining moments defy control and when controlled they often evaporate. People of this personality type need to slow down and be “in the room,” in the moment,” and sensitive to their intuition that will likely provide the first indication of a defining moment.
Inspiring (I) personality types enjoy being the focus of a group as the leader or in some other role. As the leader they have great positive energy that can inspire others as a defining moment presents an opportunity. However, Is are often so self-focused that they miss defining moments. If you are of this personality type, remember that you cannot be the center of attention if you are going to seize a defining moment. If you are trying to BE the defining moment you will miss it.
Steady (S) personalities are generally laid-back people. With training, experience, or a situation that matches their abilities Ss can be good leaders. Steady personality types have a unique ability to solve conflicts when a defining moment is presented and bring harmony and mitigate conflict. However, they often miss defining moments because of their relaxed approach. If you are of this personality type, be sure to truly live in the moment and be more aware on purpose. Remember, if you snooze, you lose a defining moment.
Competent (C) personalities are somewhat scripted or programmed and can be like a computer, Mr. Spock, or Data on Star Trek. Remember the football story earlier in this article? That was me and I am a strong C. On the positive side, Cs can be strong leaders where structure and strategy is needed. Once motivated Cs are persistent and will get the job done. However, because Cs are often “stuck” in their script, they often miss defining moments. Defining moments don’t ever fit the script and are usually outside the box. If you are of this personality type, learn to be aware, don’t hold on to your script as tight, and be ready and flexible to seize a defining moment.
DEFINING MOMENTS IN THE BIBLE
The Bible is filled with defining moments and we can see what occurred when people acted in with character and leadership and we can see the consequences when they did not seize the opportunity. Here are a few examples:
- - Adam missed the defining moment in Genesis 3 to provide leadership to prevent Eve from taking of the forbidden fruit. Instead he did the opposite of leadership and watched as his soul-mate ate of the forbidden fruit to see if she would die. Defining moments have positive and negative consequences.
- + Hezekiah was informed of his imminent death and he seized the defining moment by praying to the Lord who could change the outcome. Hezekiah was given fifteen more years. (2 Kings 20:1)
- +/- David presents a mixed report regarding defining moments. In regard to his actions toward King Saul, David rarely missed a defining moment that took him higher in his leadership and influence. On the other hand there is Bathsheba. This event appears to define David’s moral character at the core. That’s also what defining moments do.
- + The Apostle Peter seemed excel at times at seeing and acting on defining moments. For instance, he was the only one of the disciples to get out of the boat to walk on water.
Explore the Bible and identify defining moments. Doing so will help you recognize and react properly to “seize the day!”
- Write several defining moments that changed your life because you saw it and acted on it properly.
- Write several defining moments that you probably missed and the consequences.
- How does your personality type affect your ability to recognize and act on defining moments?
- In the comments section, share some of your defining moment stories.
Dr. Tom Cocklereece, The Disciplist
Dr. Tom Cocklereece is CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC
He is a pastor, author, professional coach, leadership specialist, and is a member Coach/Teacher/Speaker for the John Maxwell Team
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