This past weekend I got to spend time with a great group of teenage guys. We built a trip for them, and it was a great experience.
On Saturday we had the opportunity to fish and shoot skeet (clay pigeons). If I were to be completely honest, we shot skeet because it’s been a while since I’ve shot and I wanted to shoot, and we fished because the boys asked to go fishing.
Now, the last paragraph reveals something about me — I’m not a fisherman. My thoughts when planning the trip didn’t go to “It would be so much fun to fish” but instead “it would be so much fun to shoot skeet.”
When it comes to fishing, I don’t know what I’m doing. I can make some guesses. I can buy some fishing supplies, mostly on clearance because I like a good deal. But the bottom line is the one time I’ve ever taken my girls fishing and tried to figure it out, we caught a turtle with a turkey hot dog. Let that sink in.
Shooting skeet, on the other hand, is more in my wheel house. I know what it takes. I know what we need. I know who to ask. I have a good idea of how to set it up, because I have done it often. I know what my goal is, and I know how to achieve it.
Here’s your leadership principle – if you don’t know your goal, you don’t know how to achieve it.
I don’t know what bait to use to catch what type of fish.
I know which gun to use to shoot skeet.
If you are working and don’t have a goal in mind, then all the effort you’re putting in is wasted energy.
Even worse, if the people you are leading don’t know what your goal should be, then all the effort you’re putting in is wasted.
A clear vision/purpose/direction/goal allows you to create shared forward movement. When you get everyone on the same page moving forward, the progress you’re able to make will be beyond what you ever imagined.
But it doesn’t happen if you don’t even know what kind of fish you’re trying to catch.
Can I confess something? Few things frustrate me more than when someone operates with a belief that I know something I do not.
It happens more often than I care to admit. I get into a conversation and someone has information they think is common knowledge, but they do not realize I have not been informed of the key piece of information, thus losing me before the conversation begins.
Can I confess something else? I wrestle with this in myself all the time.
Honestly, I do. Am I holding someone else to an expectation they have no way of knowing they are being held to? Am I expecting people around me to live up to my standards because they know what my standards are, or because they should just know. I mean, really, my pet peeves are everyone else’s pet peeves, right?
I think letting ourselves fall into the trap of the leadership secret is one of the hidden roadblocks of effective leadership.
The leadership secret bases decisions, actions, and attitudes solely on information the people around you have no way of knowing, and then expecting them to respond as if they know.
The leadership secret happens when someone, behind closed doors, behaves in a way we never expected, but in front of others never shows that side. So we begin to think less of people who respect the person, even though they would have never seen the other side.
The leadership secret happens when we know someone is struggling and watch as people mercilessly attack them for something separate, and then work ourselves up to defend them, all the while expecting everyone to know what we know, without us telling them.
I am not advocating gossip, or even being a megaphone for secrets. Instead, I am advocating taking a moment to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and ask: “Do they know what I know?” In doing so, maybe we learn to deal with people individually.
There’s another side to the leadership secret, though. There are times in leadership when information needs to be communicated. This is a very delicate line to walk. I am by nature a very private person, so I tend to bristle when someone shares something about me I did not approve. But the truth of the matter is sometimes the battle we (or someone else) is fighting needs to be made known.
As a body of believers, one of our goals is to love and challenge people to grow. Sometimes, this is done by surrounding them and helping them move forward.
With the Super Bowl fast approaching, there are a few things we can count on:
1. Cowboys fans are left thinking next year is our year (finally).
2. Patriots fans getting ready to cheer their team on, or claiming they needed a break from the Super Bowl.
3. Youth Ministers’ mental wheels are turning trying to plan the big party.
I have been in youth ministry long enough that I remember when, as a church, we had to invite people to our “Big Game” party, because we were infringing on the NFL. Thankfully, that’s not the case anymore.
But one thing I do know, from having done Super Bowl parties over the years: there are a few key elements that make a great party. Here are my two cents.
Finally, one of the questions that comes up the most: Do I give a devotion or not? The answer is up to you, but here’s my suggestion: If you do, keep it short and pause the game. You can resume the feed after your devotion, and use the random local car dealer commercials as a chance to make up lost time. But those commercials don’t come until around the end of halftime and the slow part of the 3rd quarter. You’re not going to recover 10 minutes.
The bottom line for all of this, though, is to have fun. Enjoy time together, and be gracious to the kid rooting for the team that’s losing–they’re emotionally invested and that’s okay.