Today’s Decisions. Tomorrow’s Direction.

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Have you ever done something you never thought you would do?

For me, it’s running. I used to think people who ran 5K races were crazy. Now, I’m one of the crazies. I’ve run 5Ks (including one during a vacation), 5 mile races, 10Ks and even a half marathon.

Every time I’ve trained for and completed a race, I can look back and see decisions I made along the way that helped me achieve the goal. The most obvious was simply the choice to spend time running instead of doing something else.

Our leadership principle today is a simple one: Today’s decisions. Tomorrow’s direction.

The decisions we make today affect where we will end up tomorrow. For leadership, the implication is rather simple: are you making decisions today that will make you a better leader tomorrow?

Are you reading leadership blogs (like this one), books, and articles? Are you listening to leadership podcasts that will stretch your understanding of what it means to lead? Are you surrounding yourself with people who will help you grow as a leader?

What have you set up in your routine each day that will help you expand your leadership influence? It may be as simple as sending an encouraging text each day, or clicking over to Amazon to find a good book on leadership. Or, maybe it’s adopting the three questions and trying to answer them each day.

Remember: Today’s decisions. Tomorrow’s direction.

The Redundancy of Leadership

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Do you know the hardest part of writing a blog? The consistency of having to write another post. It comes up three times each week, like clockwork.

Ministry is the same. Sunday is always right around the bend (or Wednesday for many youth ministers).

Farming was the same. No matter how many years in a row you planted a seed, the next year it was time to plant it again.

I imagine CPAs have the same feeling. Regardless of how hard you work from January to April 15 one year, the next year you will have to work just as hard.

But in the midst of the mundane, there is beauty. In the midst of the repetition, there is opportunity.

Something a mentor pointed out to me not long ago is what he called the “redundancy of leadership.”

What does that mean? Simple: a major part of leadership is repetition.

Take, for instance, the three questions (you can read about them here). The three questions work great when you use them one time, but they find their greatest impact when they are asked and answered on a regular basis. The more frequently you answer them, the more integral they become to your leadership style and effectiveness.

The problem, however, is when redundancy carries a negative connotation. Who likes getting their teeth cleaned every six months? Or, who enjoys shooting hundreds of free throws? Or, what parent anticipates the excitement of yet another dirty diaper?

The redundancy of leadership means having the same conversation over and over. Sometimes the audience changes, but sometimes the message and audience remain the same.

The redundancy of leadership means yet again casting vision for your organization, even though you did it last week, or last month, or last year, or all of the above.

This week, embrace the redundancy. Find the beauty in the mundane. Excavate the excitement of the repetitive. And, above most other things, hang in there.

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3 Questions & Hurricane Harvey Relief

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Would you like to know a secret? The 3 Questions are not a new concept. They were birthed out of observation more than anything else. I simply put the thoughts into a process, which is far from revolutionary.

A contemporary example of how we can answer the three questions in real life is helping with Hurricane Harvey relief.

As the news stories and pictures and reports roll in about the devastation, how many people with boats have made the trip to help offer rescue? How many first responders have migrated to try to offer help?

All of these people, whether they realize it or not, are working the three questions: What needs to be done, What can I do, and Who can I get to help?

I know of churches who are asking that question today. For some, what they can do is limited by age, and for others their financial situations may prevent other solutions.

But ultimately, as they (and we) work through the 3 questions, let me offer a few suggestions:

  1. Don’t feel like you have to do everything. If you cannot make the trip, do not let that keep you from giving. Fight the mindset that says “If I can’t go, then what’s the point.”
  2. Find something you can do. Read reports, google search for needs. Give what is most beneficial, not what is simplest to give away.
  3. Equip those around you to participate. Find a way to include others in your plan. You might even try to brainstorm with them to see what you can do together.

In a time like this, leadership becomes key. But please don’t lead for the sake of saying you led, but instead lead with a purpose. Let your efforts have an end result of life change. Equip those around you who don’t know how to help.

Finally, and most importantly, pray for those who are suffering and recovering. The damage is incomprehensible, and some people will never fully recover from the devastation. Pray for those who have lost, pray for those who give of time and resources, and pray for the recovery in days ahead.

Practicing the 3 Questions

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I had a humbling experience last week. One of my peers in youth ministry, who has been a big supporter of my blog to this point, posted a picture of his computer screen. What made it humbling was the side of his monitor where he had written the 3 questions on a sticky note and left it there as a reminder. (Click here if you’re not sure what the 3 Questions are.)

Then, another peer commented he had them written on his white board, and I was struck by something.

Perception makes all the difference.

I have been using these three questions as a way to equip and encourage student leaders for a little over a year, but how well do I apply them to my own life?

If I were going to be honest with you (and why wouldn’t I?), I wrestle with the exact same part of the three questions as most of my students: the third question.

I’m a wonderful analyzer, and I have a stubborn streak that tends to say “I’ll do this myself”, but I fail time and time again at asking and answering the third question.

But if I’m serious about growing my own leadership influence, I have to start somewhere.

And one thing I know, when I do ask and answer the third question, I love to watch what happens. I love seeing people find a spot to serve. I love equipping others to step up and meet needs.

Ultimately, the three questions are what we use them to be. We can train student leaders, or adults. But, most importantly, we can use them to grow as leaders ourselves.

Look for ways to answer the three questions in your personal life today.

Clean Your Lenses

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Have you ever noticed that experts in a certain field seem to see things differently than you? Sometimes, it’s not even experts.

Hunters have a language that is all their own, as do mechanics, policemen, teachers, musicians, and every other interest, hobby, occupation, career, or calling.

Just the other day I was playing a Squier Classic Vibe 50’s telecaster in Butterscotch Blonde (you still with me so far?) and someone who doesn’t play guitar commented how it looked just like a very well-known artist’s guitar. I knew the difference (mainly a few zeroes on the price tag), but he did not.

Why is that? Because over time I have been able to develop a “lens” for viewing guitars. The way I look at guitars is influenced by my experience, opinions, and information gathering.

The same is true for your leadership. If you’re reading this, you have leadership influence in some realm of your life. More than that, you have developed some kind of “lens” to help you view situations around you pertaining to your leadership.

Your leadership style is influenced by your experience, opinions, and information gathering.

My question to you today is simply this: what is that lens in your life? Have you thought about what it is that shapes how you view the situations and the world around you? Have you considered the unhealthy influences? Have you weighed the positive influences?

For me, the 3 Questions (click here if you haven’t read about them yet) have become the lens through which I run my leadership. More specifically, the third question encourages me to equip and involve those around me.

So, once again, how are you viewing the leadership opportunities around you? Is there some kind of correction you need to make?

Maybe you could benefit from putting the 3 Questions into practice in your life.

Maybe, the application for you is to simply take some time to journal about the lens through which you are viewing things.

Whatever it is, take some time and grow your leadership by examining your lenses.

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