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.
Confession time: I struggle with asking people for help. My biggest hurdle is convincing myself people want to help, even after they are already serving in some capacity.
That’s why I lean on the 3 questions to help me grow as a leader. They serve as a framework and a reminder.
(Side note: if you don’t know what the 3 questions are, please go here and read about them.)
Today, let’s talk about the 3rd question specifically (Who can I get to help?). My thought is simple: What if people actually want to help?
I know not everyone wants to help, and not everyone wants to help with anything you ask (although some may). But in my experience, there are people who are willing to help especially when they are helping in a way that energizes them.
People who love to cook, when asked to cook, are energized by being able to cook.
People who love to build, when asked to build, are energized by being able to build.
People who love to paint, when asked to paint, are energized by being able to paint.
People who love to run sound, when asked to run sound, are energized by running sound.
People who love to work with babies, when asked to serve in the nursery, are energized by serving in the nursery.
Are you starting to see the pattern? It’s there, but it doesn’t stop there. Our role, as ministry leaders, is to find what it is that someone loves to do, and ask them to serve that way. Makes sense, right?
Over the years one of the most defeating things I’ve encountered is having requests for help being met with no. Sometimes, it has been because the person hasn’t wanted to serve, but sometimes it was because I was asking the right question to the wrong person.
So, today, what if people really want to help? Are you asking the right person to accomplish the right thing? Are you asking the right question? Or, is the fear of “no” causing you not to ask at all?
One last thought: for those who work with students. There is incredible value in teaching students to ask and answer the 3 questions, teaching them to grow as leaders early in life by simply exerting influence. But there’s also incredible opportunity to find students who are willing to serve and giving them an opportunity to do just that, because after all, what if students are willing to help?
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Okay, so you are a leader. You are probably even good at some (if not most) of the stuff you do. But have you ever considered your ability to do more is actually a hindrance to those around you? Leaders fail when they fail to ask for help.
Think about it. The more you accomplish, the less the people around you are able to accomplish.
Granted, we are approaching today’s topic from a different perspective, possibly even a counter-intuitive place. But if we are going to buy into the 3 questions to help us grow as a leader then we have to admit a few things.
Here are 3 reasons why you should ask the people around you to help:
The more I teach and talk to other leaders about the three questions, the more I realize the biggest impediment to impact is failing to empower those around you to serve. If you want to see your leadership impact grow exponentially, learn how to ask people to help.
A couple weeks ago we were on the back end of our youth room remodel, and our deadline (Wednesday night) was approaching fast. I was spending the majority of my time that week trying to rearrange, clean up, and reassemble the room. I had both of my daughters with me to help, but that was not working the way I hoped.
Then, a light bulb came on. As my oldest daughter was asking what she needed to do next, I did something I have not done yet: I asked her to answer the first 2 questions (Click here for the explanation of the 3 questions). I helped her as she looked around the room to see what needed to be done, and then helped her see what she could do.
Now, I have said before that I do not sit my daughters down and make them listen to me lecture on the 3 Questions, but earlier this summer I did let my oldest sit in one of my talks on them. She was excited about the idea of it, so our conversation in the youth room was not out of place.
What happened next was great. We were able to accomplish more because she was not interrupting me every time she finished a task. She was learning to trust herself and ask the questions, and I was encouraging her along the way.
The 3 Questions are simple. Some people take to them naturally. Others, it takes a little more effort, but it can happen. The key is in the repetition, the redundancy.
If you are trying to learn to ask the 3 questions personally, hang in there. It takes time, but it can make all the difference in the world.
If you are trying to teach the 3 questions, stick with it. When someone embraces the possibilities, the results are amazing. It will take time, but push through and see what happens.
I’m cheering for you and your leadership today.