When I was an 8th grader, we didn’t have enough boys in 7th and 8th grade to field a football team, so the school decided to let 6th graders play. This was both good and bad.
It was good because we had enough kids to be able to play football that year, but it was bad because only one of the 6th graders had hit puberty. As a result, we had a historic season, and didn’t win a game.
Towards the end of the season our coach decided to work in a couple trick plays. One play involved some yelling from the sideline that we were using the wrong football, which would result in the center handing the quarterback the football (a legal exchange), the quarterback running toward the sideline as though he were going to trade the football. Just before getting to the coach on the sideline, the quarterback would run up field for what would hopefully be a touchdown and a win.
It didn’t work. The referees said the coach couldn’t yell that from the sideline. But the premise was true: confusion breeds chaos.
If we could get the other team questioning what they knew to be reality, then we could take advantage of the moment and surprise them.
In leadership, the principle applies as well. If the people we lead are unclear as to next steps, or even what we are trying to do, the result is chaos.
As a minister, if the adults who volunteer in my ministry don’t understand the long term goal and vision I set, then we have a team of volunteers who set their own long term goal and vision.
If student leaders don’t understand their role, then they set their own guidelines.
This isn’t master level manipulating. This is learning to sail the ship and getting everyone moving in the same direction.
What part of your leadership is suffering due to confusion? What steps can you take to add some clarity this week?
On Tuesday, I wrote about some ways I’ve been using the 3 Questions with our Student Leadership team. Today, I’ll share the simple nuts and bolts of how we’ve implemented and keep the 3 Questions out in front.
But first, have you seen this post by Russell Martin over at Ministry2Youth.com? In it, he lays out how he used the 3 Questions at a recent meeting. It’s definitely worth the read, so check it out.
Now, on to how we use the 3 Questions at FBC Bronte.
As I said, it’s really pretty simple, but last year we started meeting after service for 15 minutes on every Wednesday night. In doing so, the 3 questions provided an excellent foundation for that short meeting.
So, each week, our student leadership team sits down and we share how we answered the 3 questions that night. Our students know what’s coming, so there is a healthy amount of accountability.
Occasionally, when I see a negative pattern developing, I’ll try to correct it in the meetings. Once or twice, I’ve noticed a kid who consistently doesn’t share, so I’ve gone to them afterwards with suggestions of ways they could answer the 3 Questions.
There is a definite sense of redundancy, but for me, that’s something I’m okay working through. I want our student leaders looking for ways to serve, to change the environment of the room, and to include others. And they do.
So, how could you implement the 3 Questions? I really liked Russel’s take on it, so give it a read.
Today, I’m going to layout a little bit of the strategy of how I’m using the 3 questions to train and equip student leaders.
If you’re not familiar with what the three questions are, I would encourage you to go read this first.
Now that you’ve read it, here we go.
I first taught the three questions to student leaders in August of 2016. From there, we’ve been on a bit of a journey. When teaching the concept, it helps to give plenty of examples. For our context, the simplest examples we use are: setting out chairs, getting ice, filling cups with ice, setting out Bibles, sitting with students who are visiting or sitting by themselves, connecting with people outside of one’s circle, stacking chairs, clearing tables, etc.
I really think the 3 questions are a simple shift in perception. If I can get students to see the world around them through the lens of the 3 questions, then I’m equipping them 1) to see the world differently and 2) to change it.
Along the lines of this shift, one thing I’ve noticed is there are two kinds of people: those who naturally recognize opportunities, and those who don’t. I don’t think it’s a character flaw to be the latter, but it does make answering the questions more difficult. I also think this is true of adults. Some people are naturally wired to help and to serve, and for others, it’s a choice they make along the way.
After a few months of implementing the 3 questions, I noticed our student leaders were only asking other student leaders to help them accomplish tasks instead of leveraging their influence to include outsiders. We talked about it as a team, and I challenged them to include people who weren’t on leadership team, and they started doing so.
One of the coolest things for me to see was on a Wednesday night before anyone else showed up, a boy (who wasn’t on leadership team), walked in and unknowingly answered the 3 questions by putting chairs out. He didn’t know the framework, but he knew he had been included in putting chairs out enough times that he knew it needed to be done. This has happened several times.
To this point, what I’m doing may not seem like much, but on Thursday I am going to unpack what I’ve learned a little more. For me, teaching students to answer the 3 questions has been a journey for everyone involved. I hope you’ll check back on Thursday.
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I truly believe that effective leadership calls for both creativity and structure. There are times where being creative is the only way to move forward, and there are times where maximizing from the steps, mistakes and successes of others has already paved the way.
So, today, my question for you is simply: do you find yourself more naturally leading from creativity or from structure?
I wrestle with a heavy tendency to want to lead from a position of creativity. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I am a thinker. I joke that I spend about 90% of my time thinking about what I could do, and only 10% of the time actually doing it. The byproduct of that much thinking: creativity.
I fight against structure. I would much rather write my own Bible study, create my own logo, plan my own trip, or create a new wood working project than try to follow a blueprint written by someone else.
But, if we are going to be honest with each (and why wouldn’t we be honest?), my leaning to creativity is often times my greatest weakness. I suffer when I refuse to ever walk the path someone cleared before me.
Truthfully, I grow as a leader as I wrestle with this tension. Too much creativity, and my mistakes swallow me whole. Too much structure, and I get crushed under the weight.
So, which way do you naturally lean? How do you find balance between creating new and learning from the old? Please share your experiences!
Over the past 4 days I’ve completed two different projects, both of which have been furniture. The process I used to accomplish each one is quite different, however.
My first project was something I’m calling a “grill prep station”. It’s construction was very basic. I had two pallets, one of which I was able to cut in half and still keep each half uniform in build. I attached the half pallets to the full size pallet, added a couple 2×8 boards I had laying around, and found three or four more boards to complete the project.
I only cut one or two boards, but everything else was very much a “this might work here” progression. In the end, I love my prep station. There’s room for growth, and I can change things around without any remorse, because it wasn’t supposed to match a blueprint anyway.
The end result is a place for me to place plates, food, seasonings, drinks, and my bluetooth speaker, all while enjoying an evening grilling.
Some leadership experiences are like this: I’m going to make the most of what I have, get creative, and be proud of the end result.
We may find ourselves in an unorthodox situation, and leading requires out of the box thinking. This is natural and beneficial for a team.
Leaders who can see what I refer to as the Horizon of Possibility, look at the materials that have been given to them, and they create what they can dream. The materials may be physical, financial, or in terms of personnel, but the end result is something worthy of satisfaction.
We can all probably think of someone who, with extremely limited resources and personnel, made a drastic impact on the world. They didn’t follow a blueprint, but instead said “this might work” and gave it a shot.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, embrace the freedom that comes from not having to follow a blueprint. You can make a mistake, but that’s okay. Roll with the mistake and make it a strength!
But don’t let yourself become tied to this way of leading as the only way. On Thursday, we will look at the benefits of the other method of leading: following a plan.