If you looked at my resume, you would likely notice something strange: in the last 14 years, there’s a gap of about 4 months where I was not on staff at a church either part-time or full-time.
I really believe there are some places that if I were to send my resume and apply for a position, that 4 month gap would raise a few red flags, or cause me to immediately be sifted into the trash pile. But, for me, I look at that gap as the most important part of my work history.
The gap came after a challenging ministry situation intersected with some major life transitions (and personal growth areas). My wife and I felt God calling us to shift gears and change pace for a while, so we did just that.
During the gap, I started farming again, working for my dad. (You can read some of my Lessons from the Farm by clicking here.)
So, here’s the takeaway from my resume gap: I wouldn’t be where I am, or serving with the passion I serve, had it not been for those four months.
In those months (and the bi-vocational years that followed), God solidified a call to ministry in my life.
I had time to step back and evaluate my gifts, my passions, my abilities, and my joy. I rediscovered my passion for helping students and adults grow closer to God. I realized I had drifted away from the things that drove me early on in ministry.
Most importantly, during that gap, I wrestled with my call to ministry, and realized my heart was in serving God vocationally.
So, for me, the gap in my resume represents a time where I was able to come to terms with my own call, with the reality of the challenges of ministry, and with a desire to push through and endure.
I wouldn’t be who I am today without that gap. I am better because of it, and I would like to think people around me are better because of it as well.
What do you look at in your life and say “that was central to my development”?
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Today’s Check It Out post links back to one of my early posts, but one whose content I have been pondering a little extra the past week or so. I hope you enjoy it: http://www.threequestionleadership.com/2017/03/02/be-careful-who-speaks-into-your-life/
I have one simple rule for surviving camp. It’s a personal rule, and not one that I share. It does not affect other people. It does not make me a better leader. Quite the contrary: it’s a survival tip.
So, here’s my survival tip for camp: use the same shower each day and learn which way the knobs turn. Simple enough?
Years ago, early on in my camp ministry, I learned the painful lesson that the hot water doesn’t always turn the same way to shut off. Simply put, I changed showers one day and instead of turning off hot and cold, I turned the cold water off and cranked up the hot, resulting in a scalding.
Last week, my survival tip got put to the test as I took two lukewarm (read: cold) showers, thinking the hot water would kick in eventually. It never did. Until, the teenage boy who was helping me at camp cracked the code: the other knob turned on the hot water. I was convinced hot water was going to flow by turning the cold knob.
I am so grateful for the boy who figured that out, communicated it to me, and blessed my week as a result.
So what’s the leadership lesson? Sometimes, those with less experience have fewer assumptions of superior intelligence.
Here’s a teenage boy who has a fraction of the camp experience I’ve built up over my lifetime, and he had the audacity to try something I had not tried yet. His lack of life experience cannot stand up against my infinite wisdom, right? After all, I have survival tips I live by at camp. He doesn’t have that, so he cannot possibly be as wise as me.
As a leader, fight the temptation to think you have it all figured out, and as long as you stick with your process, it is bound to work. Instead, learn to listen to and trust those around you, especially those who are younger than you.
In the church realm, this may mean including others while re-evaluating a program or event. Other people will look at certain elements through a different lens, and you just might learn something from it along the way.
Arrogance chokes the life out of creativity. Thinking you have every answer negates your long-haul influence.
Who knows, maybe one day you’ll have someone help you learn you don’t have to take a cold shower.
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Earlier this week, I blogged about one of the leadership lessons I’ve shared with a group of kids at camp. You can read the initial thoughts here.
The basic idea is as follows: Leaders Learn.
Pretty revolutionary, right? Okay, maybe not, but sometimes necessity breeds simplicity.
If we truly expect to learn as a leader, we have to be willing to change things about ourselves based on what we learn.
This week at camp, as I’m spending time pouring into leaders, I am being forced to evaluate my own leadership learnings. I am being challenged, taught, stretched, and pushed. I am finding areas where I need to work and improve.
Changing things about ourselves does not mean being wishy-washy or insecure. It is recognizing mistakes and make a conscious effort to minimize those mistakes.
If you are constantly late, learn what it takes to show up early (usually a mindset change).
If you are consistently critical, learn how to speak life to those around you.
If you are continuously defensive, learn how to see things from another’s perspective.
As leaders, we can never get to a point where we feel we have it all figured out. I know there are times where I have no clue what I’m doing, or I make silly mistakes. But if I am unwilling to admit my mistakes and embrace the changes that are necessary, then I can never grow as a leader.
The same is true for you. As you lead, whether it be a group, an individual, or anything in between, take time to learn as you lead. Trust me, those who follow you will appreciate the effort, and your willingness to learn and change things about yourself will rub off on those you lead.