Self-Leadership: The Adventure of Spoon Collecting

spooncollecting1If your self-leadership development efforts were illustrated through spoons on a wall, what would it look like? Would have many spoons…or two…or maybe just one?

My mom has always had a collection of spoons – those little souvenir spoons that you can find while you are traveling. She has spoons from most countries in Europe and other places she has visited in her lifetime and they have been on the wall of her living room since I can remember.

That’s what I think our self-leadership development should look like–having a lot of spoons on the wall. Those spoons to me symbolize various takeaways, wisdom, insights, and experiences from a variety of different places and people and times in our life. Looking at the collection, I can’t help but appreciate the diversity of the spoons as well as the personal stories behind them.

It’s so easy to fall into the mindset that your development should be provided to you from whoever is leading you or through your immediate context. Should your leaders be seeking to provide development for you and those they lead? Absolutely. Should you expect them to provide all, or even the majority, of your development or what you need to increase your leadership capacity and grow? Absolutely not!

Waiting for someone who is supervising you to provide all of what would help you as a leader is foolish, passive, and can be at times even childlike. You’re putting your own development completely at the mercy of one other person’s strengths, limitations, motivation, and capacity to develop you. And you know what – they aren’t you! Chances are you need, and even want, different types of development than your leader because you are a different person and a different leader. Even the greatest leader can only give you so much.

So let’s own our development and continue our journeys towards learning, growing, changing, and increasing our capacity to serve and lead others. Here’s what I recommend:

Go get some spoons!


Go visit the people and places that have the spoons you want or you feel like you really need right now as a leader. My mom wouldn’t have all those spoons if she never went anywhere. Waiting for your leader to do all the work for your development is like waiting for a spoon to show up at your front door. That’s anti-adventure, anti-adult, and anti-leaderlike.


What’s the point in going somewhere or visiting someone for the sake of development and learning if you don’t actually take something away that can help you be a better person or leader or even help you execute your responsibilities better. So find spoons that help you refine your strengths and growth areas. Find spoons that help challenge your thinking and paradigms. Find spoons that will speak into your life, inspire you, help you dream big, gain new skills. Find spoons that help you in your personal and emotional life as well as in your personal and leadership relationships. There’s a lot of spoons out there
than can help you grow into the person and leader you want to be. Don’t wait for people to drop them off at your door. GO GET ‘EM!


One of my chores growing up was polishing my mom’s spoons. It was fun to dip a spoon into a cleaning solution so half of the spoon was dirty and the other half was perfectly clean. By polishing them up, the spoon’s became so shiny that it was like it was a totally different spoon or I was totally seeing it for the first time. The task of polishing all the spoons also served the purpose of reminding me of all the places and types of spoons that there were. When they were hanging on the wall they were easily forgotten, but taking them down to polish them would evoke memories and a renewed appreciation for what they looked like along with the backstory behind it. You can go and get a lot of “spoons” over time, but if you forget those insights and takeaways
they won’t transform your leadership much over time. Find ways to remind yourself of those great insights and transformational experiences that you already have on your wall and at your disposal!

One of the best “spoons” I’ve picked up over the years is that when it comes to your development as a leader, you have to own your leadership development LIKE a leader. That means it’s no one else’s job to make sure you have a good spoon collection. It’s your job, your calling, your journey. And spoon collecting should become a passion! I’ve picked up spoons from my leaders over the years, from seminary, from reading books, from friends, from my teams, from countries I’ve been in, from media, from church, from social media, from conferences, blogs, and a host of other places and experiences too. There’s a lot of spoons out there for the taking!

So figure out where you want more spoons, where you really need more spoons, and maybe check out what kind of spoons others around you have for ideas about what kind of spoons can best help you. It’s also good to remember that we don’t collect spoons like we collect data or information. We collect the spoons of leadership development for our own transformation and so we can serve others and ultimately help them learn how to start spoon collections on their own.

But whatever you do, don’t settle for a wall with one or two spoons on it. You just end up looking like you’ve not really visited that many places. The people we lead and influence deserve more than one or two spoon’s worth of leadership!

Where are you going to get your spoons? What advice do you have?

How are you managing to remember and consistently apply insights
and takeaways you’ve gained in the past? Any suggestions?

  • Judy Douglass

    Love this, Brian. I’ve had a spoon collection, but they are all put away out of sight somewhere now. And definitely would need polishing. Yes, the ministry has a responsibility to encourage and help provide leadership development and opportunity–purposefully and intentionally.

    But you are right–we must each own our own development. I especially encourage staff women to do this. So what if the ministry doesn’t always open doors for you. Open them yourself.

    I am not very systematic in capturing principles and experiences. My computer has helped. Paper gets lost, I don’t go look at it. But all the resources, ideas, helps I store on my computer are there and findable. And since I have been on Twitter I have been followed (I don’t know why) by various “leadership gurus”. So now I follow some of them and have learned some great things from them. Capturing for the future is still a challenge.

    Main takeaway–it is my responsibility, in the Lord, to grow and develop.

    • Brian Virtue

      I’m so glad you weighed in with those insights, especially as it relates to women. It seems that owning development and opening those doors yourself for development is hardest for those that in their lives have experiences large degrees of marginalization or 2nd class type of status. Thus, it seems like many women can tend to wait for those doors to be open and struggle to feel empowered enough to open them up. But they for sure don’t get a lot of help either in many settings.

      Since switching to Epic I’ve been learning more and more about how majority and minority dynamics influence how empowered people feel to pursue those types of opportunities on their own. Those of us in the majority culture need to keep working to open doors for those in those positions, but they need to learn, as Kristy says above, where they can be their own authority as it relates to their own development as people and leaders so they are not always waiting for doors to open.


    • Stephanie Raquel

      LOVE this discussion. As a student, I loved attending conferences and being encouraged to read great books. Now I’m a full-time mom and part-time women’s ministry director at our church of about 2,000 adults. I often say to people that if we are still on this planet, God is still working on us, and by His grace, still working through us!

      Leadership is influence, says John Maxwell. So if we are still on this planet, it is our calling to influence others — therefore by default, we are leaders, whether that’s in the marketplace or the family or the neighborhood, or the home or the campus. I get sooo frustrated when I hear people, especially women, complain that they are bored in life. A good friend once said, “Only boring people get bored!” The choice is up to us!

      IF we are willing to continue to learn and grow, there will ALWAYS be people to influence and help encourage and equip us. They might not be our personal friends, but that really shouldn’t matter. They might be authors of great books. They might have a podcast or a blog on something that is of interest to us.

      These three things will have a tremendous impact on our lives: 1) the five people we hang with the most; 2) the experiences of our lives and 3) the books we read. Therefore we must choose wisely!

      (Proverbs 11:14) ~ Where there is no wise guidance, the nation falls, but in the multitude of counselors there is victory.

  • Christine Virtue

    As i mom of young kids i think it can be hard to keep my spoon polished and even have the energy to collect. But i am finding when i do take the time to find things that help me grow i have a lot more life to offer my family and even a renewed spirit towards what we do. I am taking the Kingdom Learning class and offering moms the grace to do what we can allows me to feel more connected to the movement and the Lord without feeling like a failure because i can’t do it all. I never really thought of development in light of spoons but good one Beav!

    • Brian Virtue

      thanks for jumping in here chris! there’s a joke here along the lines of “let’s go spooning together,” but on a serious note I appreciate the point you raised. There are experiences and opportunities that can be hugely developmental for people, but they exclude significant demographics – mom’s being one for sure. Many people don’t try to pursue some developmental opportunities as well because they feel like if they can’t do it all or do it well, then it’s not worth it. You and cathy are a great example right now of how it is worth it when you take the steps that you can take, limitations and all.

      • Christine Virtue

        I love to spoon with you! :)

  • de


    Great post. I love the balance you emphasize between owning your own development while also recognizing that you should receive some from your leader. In fact, as a leader yourself, you should be growing so you can help others grow.

    One question after reading this is, “How do you know where to look for spoons?” In my own development I know I need to grow, but I often don’t know what I don’t know. Does that make sense?

    For your mom, she could always look at a map and see the countries she had yet to visit. What’s a good map for me to be looking at for my spoon collection?


    • Brian Virtue

      This is hard to give a concrete response to – I’ve tried like 3 times. I keep coming back to just keeping your eye out for things and being open as to what we choose to expose ourselves to. There’s a lot of opportunities that I think a lot of leaders dismiss out of hand because either it’s not mainstream or it’s not something that is part of a “fad”. The top 3-5 books that have had the greatest impact on my life were not recommended to me or getting any buzz whatsoever. I randomly was exposed to them (like in a footnote of a more popular book, or on as I’m searching for books). I rolled the dice a few times and it paid off in unreal ways (and now your wife has read a bunch of them too :).

      I think it helps to know people who are networked or aware of a broad scope of developmental experiences. There are people that live and breathe development and typically they can provide tons of ideas – of books, of seminars, conferences, people to connect with, or even more immersion type of experiences. When you cross paths with these people it’s good to pick there brain – especially if there’s specific areas that you are wanting to pursue. Spoons are everywhere – sometimes it helps to have someone that can function like a traffic controller helping you see which ones are timely and most helpful at a given moment.

      One thing is important is that we don’t see development as just skills – it’s about exploring all sorts of things that can increase our capacity to serve others and be effective in our responsibilities and relationships. So sometimes the best clue to what we should do is those people we are overseeing – what kind of development could I get that would best help those I’m leading and relating to the most? Then it’s time to start exploring all the options.

      But I know you have your own thoughts here too – how do you go about finding opportunities and making those types of choices?

      • Tim Casteel

        What are these top 3-5 books you speak of?

        • Brian Virtue

          I was fully tempted to just say “Love Wins” as one of them to see what would happen, but I’ll play it straight.

          A few of these books have been Edwin Friedman’s “A Failure of Nerve”, which previously I had never heard anyone who had read or recommended that book. I randomly saw it on Amazon and started researching it and pulled the trigger. I think since finding that several years ago I’ve managed to get over 100 people to read it through 1st or 2nd generation referrals. Friedman was a Jewish Rabbi, consultant, and counselor. A similar book with similar impact was “Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times” by Peter Steinke. Congregational systems has become a hobby of mine.

          Another is Walter Brueggemann’s “The Prophetic Imagination.” I saw kept seeing Brueggemann show up as a reference or footnote to some sermons 7-8 years ago and started pursuing some of what he’s written. I’ve loved other things too, but this one had the greatest impact on me. 7 years ago I had no clue who N.T. Wright was, but stumbled via a conversation with a friend about him and read “The Challenge of Jesus” and loved it. Way more people know him now, but I had no clue back then and never had heard any reference to him. Another was a random recommendation from a friend called “Orbiting the Giant Hairball.” I’m working with a teammate to create a team development tool/discussion guide to use with the book. I might throw Eric Law’s “The Wolf Shall Dwell With the Lamb” in there too since I re-read that recently and was reminded of how helpful and even transformational going through that. I’ve just started Abraham Heschel’s “The Prophets” which I have a feeling will make this list for me moving forward.

          I have some focused interests as you might be able to tell from the list, but they’ve led to some works that touch so much in so many arenas.

          I haven’t updated this really in over a year or two, but a lot of the books I tend to recommend to people I’ve organized in an Amazon A-store. If anyone wants to check out some book recommendations related to various topics like leadership, systems, ministry, non-fiction or novels you can go to this link. I hope to update it a bit soon:

          What are your top 3 books or so that might not be commonplace or well-known to many?

          • de

            I’ve stumbled onto books the same way. Here’s ones I would add to that (I’ve definitely a beav convert to the hairball and prophetic imagination books. still working on others)

            1. Communicating the Gospel God’s Way – Charles Kraft. Horribly titled but fantastic short book (maybe 60 pages) on communication theory applied to how God communicates (and what that might mean for our Gospel communication)

            2. Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership – Ruth Haley Barton. Recommended on Gary Runn’s blog, has been huge in my life.

            3. Mañana: Christian Theology from a Hispanic Perspective – Justo Gonzalez. This book was huge in opening my eyes to seeing theology not just from a white, western perspective.

            • Brian Virtue

              eric – heard you took proph. imag. on your trip. look forward to talking when you come out west in a couple weeks and see what you think. I’m pretty interested in #2 there. I remember you mentioning #3 and I like what I’ve read of Gonzalez so I’ll try to make that happen at some point. I love reading Kraft. I did a review a while back on his book “Communication Theory for Christian Witness” and found it helpful, but I might track down that one too. He takes a couple things too far, but it’s sound stuff that doesn’t get a hearing in too many places and is very relevant to contextualized ethnic ministry as well as the current efforts to contextualize to the millenials and other generations. Here’s the link

      • de

        Actually, I’m just stumbling in the dark. I do some of what you say, following the footnotes and seeing similar books on Amazon. Surprisingly, twitter has been helpful to as I interact with people on it.

        Also, anything by Rob Bell I can get my hands on. Especially those Numa videos. We use them as followup.

        • Brian Virtue

          too funny, twitter has helped. The best books for me typically are not mass marketed, but I start seeing them in footnotes everywhere or that my crazy, cutting edge type friends are reading in different fields that I hear about. But I’ve grown to love “digging for gold” on amazon to see if I can’t find something that speaks to things I’m passionate about that isn’t in my mainstream.

          back to the map thing – this is some of why I’m a big believer in a good leadership development plan. You need to identify some key areas that help you filter all the data that is out there. Feedback is helpful. Actually what you are doing in the Epic/EFM MTL training discussion forums is pretty helpful as I see it to identify what you might want to explore. If I’m working off a development plan, I’m more sensitive to things I’m come across that could add to my capacity, character and skill in some way. It helps me say no to things that I would love to read, but that might not totally move me forward in some of what I’m wanting to grow in. For example – I could read family & congregational systems stuff all day. But my develop plan right now is pointing me towards stuff related towards power and servanthood and cross-cultural empowerment. Edwin Friedman is sitting on my bookshelf calling “come to me”, but I have say no right now :)

          For someone like you, I really think developing a list of experiences, people, and environments would be very balancing since you dominate reading and the internet with blogs and all that. That hispanic missions conferences sounded like a great “spoon”.

  • Jack Heimbigner

    Brian thanks for the post! I feel as though I am learning a lot about leadership right now as an intern and I am just trying to figure out more ways to go back and remember these lessons I am learning. I feel like I collect a lot of “spoons” but I leave them around different places.

    I like Judy’s post about keeping these lessons on her computer, are there other ways that you or others have learned to keep consistency to remembering leadership lessons?

    • Brian Virtue

      Jack – thanks for jumping in here and so glad you’re interning. One thing I do to remember is blog (link above). By writing out insights, reflections, and wisdom I pick up from books, experiences, and conversations with people. Writing helps me internalize stuff more and in a blog I can then search my own reflections for various topics as I want to remember what I took away from something or something else. I use macjournal to document more personal and raw thoughts and reflections as well as notes, quotes, links, and questions I want to think more about. A journal program is really helpful because you can print stuff out if need be and you can search that as well. It seems odd, but it’s nice to have a database than can easily be searched of what you’ve picked up thus far. If I want to get a refresher on say – leadership communication, I can just search “communication” in the blog or the journal and I basically pull up everything I’ve documented.

      But the best avenue I’ve found to stay refreshed on many leadership lessons and insights is to find avenues to teach. As I am in situations of passing things on to others I constantly find myself going back to old memories and learning moments and insights. Teaching doesn’t always mean preaching or even formal teaching – but places where I’m challenged to focus my thoughts in ways that can benefit someone else.

      • Tim Casteel

        I agree Brian – Blogging has really helped me synthesize information. As you said: “where I’m challenged to focus my thoughts in ways that can benefit someone else.” And it’s funny you said that about searching your own blog because I guarantee I search my own blog more than anyone else! I constantly am going back to it, re-remembering what I’ve learned.

        Jack – I use an assortment of ways to gather my thoughts and leadership lessons. Most of what I find comes via the internet and Twitter. So Instapaper is invaluable (I use “read later” all the time as a way to store/collect great links and articles).
        Additionally, I keep a running Word Document called “blog posts for 2011” where I copy and past quick snippets of thoughts and sometimes link to either the website or a fuller Word document where I write out some skeletal thoughts to be developed later. The “blog posts for 2011” page serves as a sort of table of contents to remind me where stuff is and what its titled. Not sure if that makes sense of not!
        If I’m thinking thru a particular topic (like “Millennials” right now for me) I’ll start a folder in Safari to save links to and I keep a running Word Document that I can copy and paste thoughts into (from books, articles, sites).
        Other running Word Documents I keep: Cru thoughts (on our weekly meeting), Fall Planning 2011 (stuff I want to make sure to think thru for the fall), Staff Meeting/Development Thoughts, Quotes.
        All of those just give me quick places to cut and paste to, to make sure that I don’t lose thoughts (and so I can quickly scan through, say the night before staff meeting, and come up with a staff devo or development).
        And like Brian mentioned, I can just “spotlight” (for Mac) search a folder to find relevant thoughts.
        I’m sure there’s more organized ways to accomplish all of that but it works for me!

    • Tom Virtue

      Great question Jack. I’m the kind of person who leaves things all over the place also. Ask my wife what she thinks about my office! (It actually is pretty close to where it should be condemned.)
      BUT, one thing I’ve done that I’ve been really grateful for over the years. For 32 years I’ve had a place (started out as a piece of paper in my notebook, grew to a file in my filing cabinet, and now is a pretty large word document on my computer) to record what Brian calls spoons. It’s a place I keep insights I gain about myself, or what I notice about how I work in effective ways, feedback that people give me, what environments are helpful for me and which are not, etc.
      It’s helpful anytime when I look it through, but it’s especially helpful when I’m facing transition, am discouraged for some reason, or things just seem foggy to me. There are some things there that remind me – oh yeah, this is what I’m good at, or I’m in a situation that I’ve faced before and there’s an insight that helped me then.
      Really, I’m talking about the same idea that Judy is talking about, but I’ve focused on making sure I jot down an insight when something seems clear to me so that I don’t lose that in the flood of other things I think about.

      • Brian Barela

        this is great tom!

        i really like re-writing my bio’s on my personal blog and linked in on a regular basis (every 3-6 months). i really like linked-in because thinking out of the career mindset forces me to deal with the reality of my leadership.

        i LIKE to think that i could do anything i wanted and that i’m good at everything. but on linked-in i see my past roles, i look at the recommendations submitted by others, and it really provides a sobering picture of what i’m good at.

  • de

    Brian this is great! I’ve always heard that I’ve needed to own my own development but have never had anyone actually explain what that meant or what it could look like. Very helpful.
    I still tend to not pursue leadership development opportunities unless I’m invited to do so, but I realize I need to grow in that. I’m just now learning that I can be my own authority and pursue growth in areas that I see as valuable for the unique person God has created me to be.

    Probably the best thing I’ve done for my own development recently is participate in your leadership learning group. I had no idea what I was getting into, only that I needed to pursue something related to my personal growth. It’s been really applicable and practical to all areas of leadership in my life-as a mom, wife, and teammate.

    Thanks for post!


    • Brian Virtue

      Kristy – thanks! And I’ll take the opportunity to make a plug for anyone who wants to think about that as a potential “spoon” for next school year.

      For anyone interested in doing a learning group (8 months starting in October) go to for more information.

      The group focuses on leadership identity, congregational/team systems, and dynamics of power and empowerment among other things. For CCC people it would be a very in depth journey into “DICE+1” of the leadership model and building your core leadership capacity.

      But practically, designing and facilitating the group helps me re-learn those things that have made all the difference in my life and leadership experience thus far. It’s a polishing type of experience that also has generated new learning as well! I’ve got a nice collection now of insights – both written and via audio that come from the group, including you!

      Appreciate you taking the risk! Can’t imagine the group without you.

  • Brian Virtue

    I’ve loved some of the observations and insights already here. As an additional question to the above, for those that have already commented or any newcomers – I’d love to hear some practical ideas for where you are finding significant development. So if you can and have something that others would maybe benefit from – share the area of development and then the resource, opportunity or experience that could be really helpful.

    • Brian Virtue

      imitating much of my internal thought life, by replying to myself :)

      Since this is a primarily a CCC driven venue, I want to plug Bethel’s MA in Transformational Leadership as a formal opportunity for leadership education and development. It was pioneered by former staff member and key architect of the leadership model that the campus ministry has used for a while, Mark McCloskey. The whole program is built around the leadership model and provides a great blend of theological, organizational, ministry leadership, and personal development. It’s 3 years at a part-time pace and is designed as an in-ministry program so you can go through it from where you are (though with a couple trips to either MN or SD each year for intensives).

      There’s only been a couple staff at most that have done it which is a shame given how much common language and transferability there is to leading ministry in our organization.

      Drop me an email if you’re interested in more info. See also my response to Kristy below for a different type of leadership development opportunity that I facilitate.

  • Staci Freeman

    Hey Brian,

    Hoping a non-vocational ministry person can post here! :) Loved this post! I’ve actually been thinking about it today as I have gone about my work. It’s funny — when I was on staff I was surrounded by people who were both committed and intentional in their own development as a leader. So by default I found myself in circles where those conversations were normal and natural.

    In contrast, not being on staff has really forced me to own my own development, which has been a work in progress. There is not anyone around me saying, “Staci, go after it. Read this book. Attend this conference. Speak to these people. Learn. Grow.” And after not having that for a while, I think I began to realize it was missing, and I was the one who could change that (polish and collect)!

    The starting of the spoon collection is the easy part, the perseverance of collecting and polishing even if no one is encouraging us to do so is the hard work!

    Thanks for the thoughts!

    • Brian Virtue

      Staci – love that perspective. We can take things for granted when they are in place and don’t realize on it until it’s gone. Since we are both products of the 80’s – the power ballad “Don’t Know What You Got Until It’s Gone” by Cinderella is coming to my mind :)

      How do you go about identifying good resources and opportunities to develop in your context now? Do you find that they are easy to find? Hard? How to you make choices as to what you will do or not do?

      • Staci Freeman

        Ah yes … Cinderella. Great reference, that takes me back! :) Glam metal … good times.

        I would not only say that I took it for granted, but also that there was something in me in owning my own development that needed to grow.

        It’s not that growth isn’t valued in my current context, but the growth valued is in skills related to my vocational position. It is not about me as a leader (which I am not in a clear cut leadership role), and certainly not about spiritual things.

        It takes work to find resources. I feel like my ear is always to the ground in terms of hearing what others are reading, participating in, etc. I talk to friends (personal and professional), and honestly have enjoyed reading about leadership in my current context (nursing education).

        My current most favorite resource is a year long life-coaching class let by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend. It’s been a phenomenal time of really looking at my internal world and some of the things that can hang me up. If anyone reading this lives in SoCal, I would highly recommend it!! New session starts this July.

  • Brian Barela

    as a new staff i over-spiritualized not only my “developer” but also my development. i understood my developer to be the person “over” me organizationally. to some degree this is expected from the discipler/disciplee relationship in college w CCC, but i didn’t grasp the new organizational layer upon joining staff.

    i over-spiritualized development to mean “serendipitous and frequent interactions with my organizational leader that resulted in exponential growth.” basically that God would part the heavens on a regular basis just by meeting w my “developer.”

    over time i started to look for developers not through the organizational or even the discipleship lens but through the following:
    1–similarly gifted but more experiences and greater fruit
    2–differently gifted but stronger in character aspects where i am weak

    i started to see developers everywhere–people above, below, and beside me. it also freed me up and focused my development–i didn’t expect everything from everyone but came into relationships with realistic and specific expectations.

    great post dude. as always appreciate the way you articulate these ideas.

    • Brian Virtue

      This is awesome,
      “i over-spiritualized development to mean “serendipitous and frequent interactions with my organizational leader that resulted in exponential growth.” basically that God would part the heavens on a regular basis just by meeting w my “developer.”

      I can only hope you had some serendipitous moments with your developer those early years of college :)

      I like the 2 categories there – I have kindred spirits that help me strengthen my strengths and my soul as well, but many that challenge me in areas that I’m quite lacking in.

      And “developers everywhere” – that’s how leaders have to see it. That to me is kingdom, that to me is humble, that to me is wise. Bums me out when people can’t think freely enough to pursue what’s available to them. Bums me out more when high control leaders succeed in limiting their people to a narrow world of what it means to lead well.

      Always appreciate the invite to contribute!

  • Ryan McReynolds

    This is a very stimulating discussion that was well begun, Brian. I find that my leadership development happens most through action. Saying yes to opportunities that are just beyond what I think I can do forces me to begin to ask questions and find mentors in many areas of leadership. The risk in this, of course, is failure. But the potential upsides are significant. I have said yes to leading projects, conferences, etc. with much fear and trembling, knowing that the task was beyond me. But God has grown me in the process and I’ve found ideas and people that suddenly become relevant (read urgent) in that environment.

    • Brian Virtue

      Great points. Taking risks has really paid off over the long run – even those that included a lot of pain. I think we do often close doors on great opportunities because we don’t want to open ourselves up to possible pain and failure. I know there’s plenty of situations where I have to think twice because my initial reaction is one of self-preservation. Practically speaking, I can’t help but feel that this is one of the barriers to why the EFM journey in our ministry has been so slow in the making.

  • hongcat

    great blog beav. I think what I learned is that once you meet someone (with that spoon) that you’re drawn to, you initiate relationship. I usually add them on facebook! And if there are enough people wanting those spoons, you can get a “club” together..What i’ve done up here in the bay area is to intentionally put together a group of “missional women”. it’s a hodge podge of women in leadership and dreaming BIG God dreams in SF and everytime we meet, I feel like I’ve just collected 10 spoons. We have talked about everything from human trafficking to prison ministry to day laborers to writing books to establishing nonprofits. And it’s all really organic people because it’s just what people are doing/seeing/dreaming about naturally in our group. Another way of collecting spoons is to put your stuff out there, like you have on your blog. Once I started blogging, people came out of the woodwork who I never knew had spoons i could collect. :). I’ve also found once you start collecting those spoons, you meet others who are doing the same thing and it just goes “viral”. :)

    • hongcat

      oops, didn’t get to finish. so the cool thing about collecting spoons too is that it’s not just talking but it become collaborating. our missional women group actually helps each other in our ministries to move forward the God dreams we have.

    • Brian Virtue

      Cathy – thanks for commenting! you made a great point – in some ways you can collect spoons in some de-personal ways, but the most transformative often come because relationship is initiated. Sometimes even leaving a comment, initiating a lunch, sending an email with a question to someone who you would like to dialogue or get to know are ways of opening doors. Facebook and other social media are very easy ways to now! But the best part of what you highlight is the power of initiating relationship – that’s the catalytic moment that gets things moving. It’s good to not settle for “content”, but to add people to our lives as well that can add to our lives in different ways and at different times.

  • Anonymous

    Great analogy and helpful insights, Brian. From my own experience, I grew up with plenty of spoons available to me, but that I didn’t necessarily see or value. I lived in England for one year, in Japan for three years, and visited many other parts of the world while I was young. My mother speaks seven languages and exposed our family to many different cultures and perspectives (I’m Chinese American). Although I had a wealth of experiences to learn and draw from, I took them for granted.

    Then when I became a Christian, I met some people in the churches I attended, who saw differences as threatening. Sometimes I let those voices stifle me, and what I believe I can offer to the body of Christ. It’s taken me a while to learn to value and embrace the spoons of my past, as God’s gift to expand my view of Him, and of His work in the world.

    But it’s exciting when that mindset shift happens, and a new world of lessons seems to open up to us. Now I’m starting to see the people from my past, the places I’ve traveled to, and the uniqueness of my cultural heritage as rich resources for my own leadership development. And the fun thing is they were there all along… it was just up to me to see it! Thanks for your post.

    • Brian Virtue

      love it Adrian. Great thoughts from a guy with many, many spoons! I had a similar thought last night when I was responding to the question of what brought me to serve in ethnic ministry in this current season. It got me thinking about experiences and moments from where I grew up (Long Beach, CA), to places I spent significant time (East Asia, Mexico City, Eastern Europe and Russia, and inner-city Los Angeles via various projects). I picked up tons of spoons, some because of circumstance and some because of my family, but there were many spoons that kept coming together for even greater purposes down the road that I could have never foreseen. It’s a cool part of the way our identity as unique beings is constantly being transformed and shaped through community and new experiences over time. Love that picture.

  • Sam Varghese

    Brian, very nice following this discussion here. Great analogy about spoons. I like what you said ” Those spoons to me symbolize various takeaways, wisdom, insights, and experiences from a variety of different places and people and times in our life.” A spoon is used to take away things form a bunch , one bite at a time. For me I see how much it would benefit me having different spoons of shape and size to feed myself from valuable insights, wisdom and experiences form around me. I also see that spoons are used to feed others. An infant likes a colorful and small spoon to be fed with while an adult may look for bigger, better, spoon. How wonderful it would be when we as leaders be ready to GIVE & TAKE

    • Brian Virtue

      love it sam! way to take the metaphor to a new level. You nailed it. The give & take of the body working to build itself up is a beautiful thing!

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