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:
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.
Jesus was the ultimate example of an owner teaching hired hands to become owners.
If you think about Jesus’s interactions with the disciples in the Gospels, he was constantly preparing them for a day when he would not be there.
The disciples, however, were slow learners. They regularly missed the point (see the Sons of Thunder), or only made sense of what was happening much later.
But, when push came to shove, in Acts we read how the disciples were able to step up when the situation called for it. Jesus prepared them for the leadership call they were going to face.
In your leadership, I’m not saying you have to be Jesus. But one of our strongest goals should be the desire to help people moved from hired hands to owners.
In ministry, this means equipping people to find a place to serve, and to allow them to serve!
Some of my favorite conversations are with teenagers when I tell them they have the freedom to make a decision and I’ll deal with the followup, or that when they are serving their way, I don’t have to worry about what they’re doing.
Leadership means bringing other people into ownership. But you have to extend the invitation. Find the people who are willing and ready to serve, and test the waters.
One of the things I have most enjoyed about blogging over the past year has been the lessons I have learned and processed through my writing. Almost a year ago, I broke an unwritten rule I have about not writing about an idea or topic that recently took place when I wrote about communicating expectations.
The truth is, that post came directly out of a lesson I learned while on our annual Spring Break trip. You can click the link above to read the full post, but the short version was I got frustrated because my adult leaders were not following the schedule I had worked up, but I had never given them a copy of the schedule. So, in reality, I was frustrated with myself, not with the incredible team of volunteers who serve in the youth ministry.
As I am spending this week getting ready for the same trip, I am keeping in the forefront of my mind: communicate expectations well.
I believe this is a foundational leadership principle for my personal journey. If those who serve with me do not know what I expect, how can I realistically hold them to those expectations?
Plus, I can be a rather intense person, so learning to write down and communicate those expectations helps me manage them to a more realistic level. In other words, my unspoken expectations are often unrealistic expectations.
So, I have two questions for you today.
Just a side note to finish today: this is why I am so passionate about teaching the 3 questions to student leaders. I can teach a simple concept, and we are then on the same page moving forward!
Let’s zoom in on local church ministry today. How can you use the 3 questions to help develop student leaders? (Not sure what the 3 Questions are? Click here to read more.)
In group settings, I usually tend to be a listener first.
I remember taking a senior level class in college with about 12 people. Somewhere around 7 weeks into the class I was talking in the hallway with someone else in the class and mentioned a concept we talked about. They paused and said “I forgot you were even in the class with us.”
What I am about to say does not come from an extrovert or someone who owns a room when they walk into it.
You can make a difference in any room you enter. Really, you can.
Not only can you make a difference, you need to develop a mindset that says “I will make a difference.”
I am not suggesting arrogance and conceit. Nor am I advocating being the center of attention. But, if we seriously intend to grow as leaders, if we genuinely want to expand our leadership influence, it starts with believing we can help.
Help. Influence. Impact. Whatever word you choose, the bottom line is the same: you have something to offer. But what is it? What do you bring to the table? What can you do better than anyone else around you?
I have a mentor who has a knack for finding people with leadership potential and giving them a platform to experiment. I know another friend who has an ability to connect with people and in turn connect people with people.
Influence happens not when we decide to have influence, but when we decide to make the most of what we have.
Leadership happens not when we decide to exhibit leadership, but when we decide to make the most of what we have.
I may be a listener first, but I aim to be able to understand a situation and provide new views and new ways to examine what is happening. So not only do I listen, but I process at the same time.
As I seek to answer the 3 questions, I have to believe that I can help. You can help, too. Find a way to lead today.