Big Picture, Incoherent Ramblings

Why? Just Why?

Why. Just Why.
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I have a business minded mentor with whom I try to connect on a regular basis. One of his favorite questions to ask me when we get together is about 3QL. I usually respond with a comment about my loyal readers with my tongue firmly in cheek.

The answer I give comes down to three things, so why not go ahead and put it out there? Here are the three reasons why I keep blogging here at 3QL:

  1. I Believe in Developing Student Leaders. Seems simple, right? Right around the beginning of my blogging journey (two and a half years ago!), I started asking youth ministers what they were doing to develop student leaders. The answers I got back were incredibly enlightening. I think we (me included) make excuses for not developing student leadership the way we can, but when someone commits to it, the game is changed. I know of several youth ministers in my circle of influence who have upped their game in student leadership over the past few years, and the results are mind blowing. Their impact has grown, their reach has expanded, and their ministry is benefitting. Bottom line, I want to be the guy beating the drum for student leadership. I want to provide food for thought, as well as tips and strategy for developing a ground up leadership structure, not just a leadership program. It’s not trendy, and it’s certainly not easy, but the payoff is remarkable.
  2. I Believe in Developing Leaders. My mentor, mentioned above, told me this week “Your ministry will never out grow your leadership, and I don’t mean just your personal leadership.” If I learn to develop leaders around me, then my influence multiplies. John Maxwell calls it the Law of Explosive Growth – To add growth, lead followers; To multiply, lead leaders. I can accomplish some pretty great things on my own, but if I can learn to develop other leaders, then the possibilities sky rocket. If you’re reading this, I want you to become a better leader. Other than my wife, who stockpiles and reads about a month at a time, I don’t know of anyone in my current context who regularly reads these posts, which means I may never experience the fruit of your growth as a leader. But I’m perfectly okay with that, because if you’re reading this, I want to help you expand your leadership influence. That means I write with youth ministers in mind, but I also write with people who aren’t ministers in mind. When you grow, I grow.
  3. I Believe in Developing My Leadership. The reality of 3QL is that this has become an avenue for me to process what is happening around me. Since I began blogging, I’ve see three transitions (two pastor transitions, and my own transition to a new ministry). I’ve seen the death of my father-in-law, and encountered some incredible new people. I’ve seen my oldest daughter enter my ministry. I’ve seen ministries around me grow and flourish because of the growth of leadership. All of these things, plus so much more, have happened in what seems to be an instant, and this blog has forced me to process leadership lessons along the way. Every time I sit down to write, my goal is for me to grow. So, at the end of the day, if you were to map out the 289 posts since February 2017, you would be able to see, in part, the arc of my life during that time. When I reflect and process, I believe I am able to grow.

The bottom line is this: leadership development rarely happens on accident. We have to be intentional.

Today, let me ask a favor. I don’t do this often, but if you are a regular reader and feel like you’re a better leader because of your time spent at 3QL, would you be willing to share a post that has resonated with you? You could share the link to an actual post, or just share a thought and a link to the blog (www.threequestionleadership.com/foundation is a great place to send someone who hasn’t been here before). Together, let’s increase our leadership influence.

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In the Trenches, Incoherent Ramblings

Surround Yourself

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I find myself regularly wrestling with how much or how little I am like everyone else. I don’t think I’m special (although my daughters did buy me a best dad ever trophy this year). But, I do think I have a different approach to a lot of things.

For instance, I network differently. I can make surface connections with a lot of people, but I thrive when I’m able to question everything deeply with one or two people. I enjoy conferences, but the thing I enjoy most is the conversations in the hallways and over meals.

Playing to my strength, I tend to surround myself with people who can do the same thing. If I can find a way to foster those conversations, then I make a point to pursue the opportunities. Before moving, that looked like a 90 minute drive for what I lovingly termed a “brain trust”. My favorite conference ever was with 5 people around a table.

Who do you surround yourself with? Are you seeking out people who make you better? How are you seeking them out? Do you need to make a change on that front?

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In the Trenches, Incoherent Ramblings

Leadership Mistakes: Moving Too Slow

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I had a nickname in high school: Slow Motion. Care to guess where it came from? Well, it wasn’t my speed. It was my lack of it.

I’m a big guy. Back then, I was just a tall guy, but I’ve never been quick. As a result, my lack of speed constantly haunts me. Okay, that may be a little extreme. But you get the idea.

In leadership, however, one of the mistakes we are often tempted to make is moving too slow. This happens for two main reasons:

  1. Fear – We worry about dealing with the fallout from the change. If we upset the apple cart, how can we be certain the end result is worth the struggle in the middle? Often times this is the equivalent of saying “I don’t want to diet because I’d have to worry about being too skinny.” If the change needs to be made, don’t let fear of the outcome hold you back.
  2. Ease – It’s actually easy to not upset the apple cart. It’s easy to keep the status quo, even if the needed change would mean higher productivity in the end!

But, what are the benefits of not allowing fear and ease to cause us to move too slow? Simple: progress.

When we learn to fight against the urge to move too slow, then we start to see progress. We are able to develop more people. We are able to move more people forward. We are able to stand up to our fear and apprehension because we have experienced the other side.

Naturally, there’s a balance between moving too fast and moving too slow. So ask yourself two question: 1) which side do I lean towards? and 2) Does it seem to work to my benefit?

If your answer to the second question is no, then guess what? You need to start trying to move the other way. If you’re naturally a “wait and see” leader and find yourself constantly regretting your patience, then start moving toward action. The same is true if you’re an action oriented person who regularly leaves a trail of bodies in your wake.

There’s always room to grow, but the question always comes down to: are you willing to evaluate in order to grow?

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In the Trenches, Incoherent Ramblings

Leadership Mistakes: Moving Too Fast

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The first football game I ever played was in 7th grade. We were a small school, so our junior high only had one team, and I played the majority of the game. Honestly, I don’t remember much of the game, but there is one thing I think I will likely never forget.

Our running back broke for a big run and was running down the sideline. He had already passed all the defenders and was home free to score a touchdown. Until something went wrong. As he was running, the ball popped up out of his arms.

To this day, I still have no idea how it happened. It was all so graceful–his run, his speed, the ball effortless popping up as my friend continued running. I’m sure there were some issues with how he was running or holding the ball, or both. But all I knew was he fumbled, and it was funny.

I am now just over six months into a new position in a new ministry, and there are some things I’m starting to realize about my own leadership. Today, the first one: moving too fast.

Timing is delicate. Waiting for the right time requires experience and intuition, neither of which come effortlessly. Even someone with intuition learns to trust it over time.

There has been one element of the ministry where I am where I feel like I was running down the sideline and the ball popped up. We were moving along, and I thought I could see the straight path to where we would end up, only to realize the progress may not be as fast as I had hoped.

But that’s okay, because that means we get to re-evaluate and re-calibrate. So often, the element that keeps us from moving at the speed we think we should move is exactly what needs attention in the moment. Address the need, move forward.

Find the balance between stalling and addressing the need, though. Occasionally, some people and elements will resist movement and, dare I say, need to be dragged along. But more often than not, taking a moment to address the feelings in the room and evaluate the direction provides a solid way to continue moving forward.

What situation do you find yourself facing today? Are you possibly moving too fast, in need of a moment to stop and pick up the ball before you move further along? Are you willing to do that? Leaders have to be mindful of the people they are leading and how to help them move forward.

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Big Picture

3 Thoughts on See You at the Pole

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Yesterday was when schools all around the nation observed See You at the Pole. This event began almost 30 years ago as a group of students planned to gather around their flagpole and pray for their classmates, teachers, administration, and country. Over the years, it has grown, even crossing national borders.

Last week I heard someone allude to how they thought it was played out. That got me thinking about my experience with See You at the Pole (SYATP), so naturally, you get to peruse my thoughts.

  1. SYATP works best when it is student led, beginning to end. In fact, that should be the only way it’s run. As a Youth Minister, I get to share in the routine of my work. Why rob students of the opportunity to share?
  2. SYATP is an incredible leadership development opportunity. While I always encourage students to take the lead, I do offer suggestions to help them process through the emotions that some of them are facing (fear of speaking in public, being afraid to start, unsure of how to organize, etc.). In my previous context, I watched Junior High students stand up and lead High School students at SYATP. When else does that happen!
  3. Praying for schools, classmates, teachers, administrators, and our country is never played out. Having a prayer time at a flag pole just to be seen, well Jesus addressed that mindset. I do see my role as a spiritual leader is to help students process through their “why” – is it to pray or to be seen? Does it have to be on the 4th Wednesday of September? Is there another way to accomplish the same thing?

Full confession: I’m in a new context this year. We had a solid rhythm in our previous context, but this year I chose to sit back and observe. As a result, I saw a student step up in a way I did not expect. Again, leadership opportunities. Other campuses were underwhelming. Missed leadership opportunities.

What are your thoughts on See You at the Pole? What has your experience been?

The bottom line is this: your perspective shapes the way you see the world. When you look for opportunities, you find them.

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