Have you ever been asked to dig a hole and not been given the proper tool to accomplish the task?
A few years ago I took a group of kids on a mission trip. The group I had proved a little more efficient than the host anticipated, so we started working on random projects around the property. One of the projects was digging holes for a future gate.
Now, growing up on the farm, I’ve had my share of digging holes. We used tractors, post hole diggers, and shovels to accomplish the necessary task at hand. But, I had never experienced having to dig a hole like this.
The ground below the top soil was almost solid rock. So, for the first time in my life, I learned to use a digging bar.
A digging bar, to jazz it up, is a metal spear that chips rock away bit by bit. And it’s work.
Each person in our group would take turns, about 10-20 strikes per person, trying to chip away at the rock. Then, after we had made some progress, someone would swoop in and clean out as much debris as possible. Lather, rinse, repeat.
The funny thing is this: the owner of the property didn’t look at me and say “you have great hole digging potential” and walk away. Instead, he walked us out, gave us the tools we needed, demonstrated what it looked like, and let us get to work.
Developing student leaders is very similar. A lot of people will tell a student “you have leadership potential”, but are we walking away or putting a digging bar in their hands?
If we want to develop student leaders, then our job is not complete at recognizing ability. We need to equip them to step up and lead. We need to find the shovel, post hole diggers, and digging bars necessary to help them grow and accomplish the task.
How do we do that? I’m glad you asked. Go here to read about three questions I’ve developed to help put a shovel in the hands of a student. My desire is not to simply acknowledge someone’s potential, but to give them the opportunity to serve.
As we teach students to lead using the three questions, we are providing them with the opportunity to grow and to come to know understand leadership more clearly. The three questions are definitely not the end game, but they sure do open the door for further conversation.
And who knows, as we teach ourselves to pass the shovel, maybe we will grow as leaders along the way, too.
Leadership influence is a tricky concept. The reality about leadership influence is we all have influence, but so many people that I observe fail to realize the impact their influence is making.
Influence, unfortunately, does not always mean a positive outcome. Often times I see the result of influence being more negative than positive.
That’s why my heart beats for teenagers. They are exploring the realm of their influence, often missing the real impact they have.
Sometimes, teenagers get so tuned in to their own interests and preferences that they neglect the impact their decisions and actions are having on those around them.
Sometimes, adults get so tuned in to their own interests and preferences that they neglect the impact their decisions and actions are having on those around them.
That’s why I love the leadership conversation. If I can take a student (or adult) and help them begin to discover the potential and influence they have, then we can start to move forward together.
That’s also why I love the three questions. Teaching the three questions to students is a way for them to start to realize the impact they can and do have on a room. More than that, it helps them see the results of that impact. And that impact doesn’t come from being up front or in charge. It comes from serving and adding value.
I want any room I enter to be better because I’m there. Now, that may not mean that I’m the center of attention, and a lot of times that’s not the case at all. But wherever I am, I want to make an impact on those around me in some way. And I love helping others do the same thing.
What about you? Where are you in the process? What’s your passion for developing leaders? What are you doing to develop student leaders around you? What are you doing to develop your own leadership? What step do you need to take today to move forward either developing student leaders or developing your own leadership?
Here are two things I would suggest to help you move forward here:
The genesis of my blogging adventure began with a simple concept: sharing three questions I started teaching students leaders to ask and answer in an attempt to expand their leadership influence.
If you’re new to 3QL, I would encourage you to go check out the Foundation to see a short summary of the namesake for this endeavor. Go ahead, this post will wait for you.
The abbreviated version boils down to this: When you walk into a room (or encounter a situation in general), ask yourself…
Lately I’ve been reflecting on the simplicity of the questions. Asking and answering the questions opens doors we could never imagine, but the three questions are also counter intuitive.
One of the easiest lies to buy into is that leadership belongs to those at the front (of the line, of the organization, of the room). But we all have seen the impact someone can have on a room from a seat that’s not the front.
So leadership is not limited to the front. John Maxwell’s second law of leadership is “The Law of Influence: The True Measure of Leadership is Influence – Nothing More, Nothing Less.” When we grow our influence, we grow our leadership.
The same is true in Youth Ministry (and life in general). When we teach students (or anyone) to ask and answer the three questions, what we are doing is preparing them to make an impact where they are.
If you’re reading this today, let me issue a challenge. A student doesn’t have to pay dues before having influence. Granted, there are benefits to life experience, but the gamble we take in Youth Ministry is waiting too long to provide leadership opportunities.
Don’t wait. Develop leaders regardless of their age. You never know what may happen. Pour into your older students, but also be willing to pour into and invest in your younger students as well. When you build a balance, you’ll be amazed at the difference you’ll begin to notice.
And if you’re not sure where to start, get a group of students with hearts of a servant, teach them the three questions, and ask them how they answered the questions. You’ll be amazed at what begins to happen.
I had a conversation with a student last night. It’s slowly becoming one of my favorite leadership conversations to have with teenagers.
There are some changes in the future (I’ll post more about that in a few weeks), but this student runs the computer on Wednesday nights at church. He loves running the computer at church, and I can identify with him.
We currently have a 2 person rotation on running computer at church, and every week when I see him his first question is always “can I run computer tonight?” When I have to say I’m going to ask the other one first, he is always disappointed.
So, last night, we had a little talk. I told him I love his enthusiasm (and can identify with it, we are kindred spirits), but I had a challenge for him: teach someone else what you know.
I told him if he could learn to teach someone else to do it, and subsequently not take over for them, he would become incredibly valuable.
The reality of the moment was I was having the discussion with him about what I wanted him to do while pointing out the very thing I had done with him. I taught him how to run the computer, and let him do it. Now, if he could do the same, maybe he could find someone who loves the sound booth as much as he does.
This is the challenge we all face in leadership. One of the most challenging things we face is letting go. That’s where the 3 questions come in. For some of us, we need a reminder to ask the 3rd question. We need a reminder that until we allow others to move forward we are not leading, we are simply working.
Who do you need to teach something today? Who do you need to ask for help? I’m not saying you fully surrender anything, but maybe you can find someone today who will find their passion because you asked for them to help. And if you can do that, everyone wins.
Have you ever had a light bulb moment? Maybe you were driving in your car and a statement from earlier in the day popped into your head, followed by a moment of clarity.
Maybe you’ve been wrestling with an issue for quite some time, then while brushing your teeth, it hit you.
Maybe your light bulb moments come when you exercise, or drive, or shower.
But I think we can all think of a time when we had a breakthrough in our thinking, a moment of unparalleled clarity. From there, you gained clarity, focus, direction, purpose, and possibly even motivation.
I had one of those moments this weekend. Because of a family situation, I ended up taking Sunday off. Normally, when I am going to miss, I make a point to line out the hurdles and get someone to cover all the bases. This weekend, however, I forgot one thing: the sound board.
I am a bit of a sound board nerd. I always tell kids if I wasn’t on staff at a church, I would serve in the sound booth. A few years ago, we were able to upgrade our sound board at church to a really nice board, and I am constantly amazed at the power and capabilities. There is so much to know, and I haven’t gotten around to training someone else to run it. I haven’t brought myself to ask the 3rd question when it comes to the sound booth.
After realizing my shortfall, I sent a text Sunday morning, and then received one right before the service. There was some shuffling, but they were able to get the board to work without a hiccup.
And now my lightbulb moment: Sometimes it’s okay to let go of something I enjoy in order to bring someone alongside and train them to accomplish the same thing. After all, and this is a common mantra here, what if the someone I ask to help actually enjoys it more than me? What if they, and this is hard to fathom because I’m awesome, can do a better job than me?
The question for each of us comes down to this: as a minister, is it my job to do the work of the ministry, or to equip others to do the work of ministry?
Not a minister? Then, the question for you is similar: as a leader, is it your job to accomplish tasks, or to equip those around you to accomplish tasks?
We are better together. It’s okay to ask someone to help.
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