I was having a great discussion the other day with some student leaders.

We were talking about Henry Cloud’s book, Integrity. In it, Cloud describes the Observing Ego as “our ability to monitor our own thoughts, behaviors attitudes, feelings, abilities, choices, values, desires, talents and the like.” He goes on to tell us that the mature among us are those who can self-observe and self-correct.

Makes total sense when you think about it, doesn’t it? In fact, I think there is some Biblical evidence to this whole idea.

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do. (Romans 7:15NIV)

If you look at it carefully you understand Paul has multiple personalities here. There is the Paul that wants to do the right thing. There is the Paul that does the wrong thing. And then there is the Paul who is watching the whole thing go down…from the inside.

I know it sounds a bit schizophrenic. But, Isn’t that how we all are?

Research tells us that somewhere around middle school we become aware of our “inner-conversation” with ourselves (A point worthy of several blogs about middle school strategy in the future). After that, it’s been my experience that we learn to observe and inform that conversation as we mature. We talk to ourselves about what we should have done and what we plan to do in the future. We observe ourselves and we coach ourselves. At least we do if we ever want to really grow up.

In our discussion we came to the conclusion we all wanted to be known as “mature” and so we wondered:

Is the ability to “observe ourselves” a God given gift or is it something we all develop with some intentionality?

We decided that it is something we can work on though some of us are naturally better at it than others. To get started you have to take one small step. You simply have to pause…

Self awareness, and personal development start with a pause.

So right now, as a small group leader of students…pause…

…and ask yourself: What do you want to teach your few? Are you aware of yourself and how you guide the conversation? Do you talk about “how to think” or are your discussions focused more on “what to think”?

It’s so easy to lecture and teach the principles of Christianity to our few and miss out on encouraging and nurturing a healthy thought process. It takes more effort and can be a little scarier but taking the time to talk with your few about their own developing ability to monitor their thoughts—to observe themselves—has a life long effect.

While one may change what they think in this very moment, the other will change how they think for many years to come.

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Tom Shefchunas

Tom is the North Point Ministries Multi-Campus Director of Transit (Middle School). Tom’s passion involves working with campus directors and their teams, as well as recruiting and developing the hundreds of volunteer small group leaders it takes to pull off Transit at the five churches of North Point Ministries. He is the co-founder of Uthmin.net, a place for middle school ministers to gather. Tom also co-wrote Lead Small with Reggie Joiner, a resource for children and student small group leaders. Tom and his wife Julie live in Cumming, Georgia, with their three children, Mac, Joey and Cooper.

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