Calling vs Job

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A few years ago I took a break from full time ministry. During that time, I worked on my dad’s farm and served part time at a church. This week I have been reflecting on one of the conversations I had with my dad toward the end of my time farming.

My wife and I were wrestling with returning to full time ministry. We thought it was maybe time to send our resume out and see what happened.

I remember pulling up to the barn, turning the key off, and sitting in the pickup for the conversation that followed. As I talked with my dad about the transition, he told me “I can tell your heart isn’t in farming. When I was your age I spent spare moments dreaming what I could do to make the farm more successful. You don’t do that.”

My dad wasn’t belittling me, but he was pointing out something he saw in me: Farming wasn’t my calling. Ministry was my calling.

He was right. I didn’t spend my spare moments thinking about the farm. On the contrary, I spent my spare moments thinking about church. Farming was what I did for almost 3 years so I could serve part time at a church. Farming was where my paycheck came from. It was how I provided for my family.

So, what’s the difference between calling and a job? When we find our calling (ministry, farming, teaching, etc.), we are able to throw ourselves into it. We do what we do out of love for the opportunity, because we couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

When we have a job, we leave work and start thinking of something else. That something else is likely your calling, and it’s not limited to ministers and farmers.

I have a friend who over the past few years has worked in the oil field, then as an aviation mechanic. Just recently, however, he seems to have found his calling. Last summer, he finished police academy and has been serving as a police officer ever since. He loves it. He knew his calling for years after finishing the military, and finally got the opportunity to pursue it, and I couldn’t be happier for him.

What’s your calling? Is your current occupation your calling? Or, are you working a job until you can pursue your calling? This isn’t an easy answer, but my hope for you is that you will find the joy of fulfilling your calling.

Where We Are With 3 Questions

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About 2 years ago I stumbled onto what I consider a pretty simple concept. It actually happened on a Sunday I took off, and was the result of evaluating a story I heard. Kind of crazy how things like that happen.

The bottom line is this: about 2 years ago, the 3 questions were born. This entire blog revolves around these three question, so click here to read a more in-depth explanation. But, as a refresher, the 3 questions are:

  1. What needs to be done?
  2. What can I do?
  3. Who can I get to help?

Today, I thought I would share where I am with these three questions. I have spent the last two years teaching these questions to my student leadership team, taking time after each mid-week program to evaluate how they did at answering the 3 questions. One of the key things I learned this year was the redundancy of asking the 3 questions.

Growing up I ate the same thing for breakfast about 90% of the time. My dad would make a batch of waffles at one time, and I would eat waffles every morning. There’s a rhythm in eating the same thing every day.

There’s also a rhythm in answering the 3 questions. It takes discipline, focus, and a desire to make a difference.

For working with teenagers (and I’m guessing the same would be true for adults), the challenge is finding a way to keep the  3 questions fresh. After all, not everyone wants waffles everyday for breakfast.

So, this summer, on our leadership trip, I plan to sit down with a couple kids and re-evaluate how to implement the 3 questions. Even this is the 3 questions in use (what needs to be done-evaluation, what can I do-evaluate, who can I get to help-student leaders who have put the questions into practice.)

The bottom line is this: when I ask myself (and answer) the 3 questions, my leadership grows. It may not be flashy. It may not be exciting. But I see results. The 3 questions lead to leadership results. But everyone’s context is different.

There’s not much application today other than to say: learn to ask and answer the 3 questions. Your context may be different than mine, but I still believe whole heartedly you can expand your leadership influence when you regularly invite people to help you accomplish what needs to be done.

 

Here’s to New Adventures

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Here’s to new adventures.

Our summer schedule starts in 10 days. By June 1, I will be halfway finished with our church trips for the summer of 2018.

Over the next 2 1/2 months, I will help lead a trip with kids to a place I’ve never been even to visit, I will experiment with a concept in a new environment (different from the one it developed in), and I will send both my daughters to camp for the first time.

It’s going to be a crazy 12 weeks, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

What new adventures are you taking this summer? What steps are you taking to step out in leadership? How are you going to challenge yourself to grow this summer?

Build Your Own Student Leadership Trip

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Here’s a post from May 2017 about our Student Leadership Trip. I’ve been prepping our 2018 trip for the past week and thought this was a good summary of what we do.

As I mentioned on Tuesday, I was on a Student Leadership Trip earlier this week. It was a great trip, and something we’ve been doing for the past four years.

I write most of my posts and try to keep them general enough to be applicable to most people who are seeking to grow their leadership capacity. My current context, however, is leading a youth/student ministry.

So, today, I’m going to share the master principle for my student leadership trip.

I contact men and women whom I respect in ministry and ask them to share for about 15-30 minutes any leadership lesson they’ve learned. Then, I load my student leaders into a van and drive to the people I contacted.

Simple, right?

With this setup, I get to customize my own leadership conference, and don’t have to pay the conference price per kid. Plus, I get great relational time in a 15 passenger van.

I’m extremely grateful for the people who poured into the lives of my students this year, and I love getting to hear each student reflect on what they learned.

If you happen to be reading this and were one of the people who shared this year, or have shared in the past four years, let me say thank you. Your investment in student leaders is paying off, and I am forever grateful for our friendship.

If you’re a youth minister, or know a youth minister, please share this article. I truly believe developing leaders is a joy, but it can be hard to find a place to start.

Lastly, I have written a few tips for how I process through my student leadership trip. If you would like a copy, comment below with your email address and I’ll be happy to send it to you. Thanks for reading!

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Learn From Your Mistakes

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Learn from your mistakes. Seems like a simple concept, right?

But when was the last time you stopped to ask yourself if you’re truly learning from your mistakes? When was the last time you admitted you made a mistake?

I think there’s a fine line in here. I never want to wear a badge of “proud to make mistakes” on my chest, because mistakes are embarrassing. But I also never want to wear a badge of “mistake free since ’93” either.

Mistakes come from 2 places. New mistakes and mistakes of comfort.

New mistakes happen because we are trying something new. We step out of our normal routine, maybe swing for the fences with something, and make a mistake along the way. Whether the something we tried is a success or a failure on the whole, the mistakes we make are all part of the learning process.

Mistakes of comfort, on the other hand, happen because we are too lazy to correct them. Sound harsh? It may be, but that doesn’t make it less true. Mistakes of comfort are the result of knowing we are making a mistake, but we’ve made it so many times that we know the outcome and think we can live with it. Mistakes of comfort are dangerous and damaging to our leadership.

If you want to grow as a leader, take some time to evaluate the last few months. What mistakes of comfort keep popping up? My tendency is to laugh them off, but I know they need to change. What about you?

The bottom line is this: if you desire to grow as a leader, you need to learn to eliminate mistakes of comfort but maximize new mistakes. Taking risks can aid growth, but accepting mediocrity kills it.