Today’s post is going to be ministry specific, but it plays a role in leadership as well.
When I think back to the influential ministers in my life, very few of them became influencers because they stood at the front of the room.
There was my youth pastor who would stay after Wednesday service for an hour or more talking with me and a friend or two about all sorts of random things, until my parents called the church to see if I was okay.
There was the pastor who saw something in me and started spending time with me each week, helping me grow in my faith.
There was my coach/youth pastor who would put in extra time with me on the basketball court, giving me tips for improving my jump shot or baby hook.
Ultimately each of those people spent that time with me away from their “stage”. As a result, when they stood on the stage (or at the front of the room), their words carried so much more weight. They cared about me, and I knew it.
The same is true for us in leadership, especially in ministry. We have to be willing to spend time investing in individuals. When we do, the words we say from the stage carry more weight.
But there’s more to it than just being able to influence someone. Investment makes a difference.
When we invest in someone, we experience compassion for what they’re going through in life. Learn how to ask questions about what is going on in their life, and take a genuine interest.
When we invest in someone, we experience frustration because people are flawed (newsflash–you’re flawed too, and that may be where your frustration comes from).
When we invest in someone, we experience hope. As we get to know someone, we get a peek into what they could become, and then as a leader we get to help them realize that potential!
The bottom line is this: in leadership, never lose sight of the one. Foster relationships that provide a greater opportunity for impact and watch what happens next!
I fancy myself a runner. Well, at least I used to be. I’ve never been fast, but a few years back I trained for a half marathon, and found I really enjoy a nice run. I’m back in it now, but it’s been a slow process.
More than the training, however, I’m part of a group of people who run and share our run stats with each other. This is not a group where we brag about how fast we are, but we all encourage one another to keep up the good work.
And that encouragement means the world.
I’m also part of what I facetiously call a “brain trust” with two fellow ministers. We get together periodically for coffee and to talk about ministry. Our primary goal is to provide each other with a safe outlet for processing situations, and to sharpen one another.
The bottom line is this: we need people who will encourage us and help us become better.
We all need accountability and encouragement. This is especially true in leadership.
Something I have noticed, though, is not everyone leans toward surrounding themselves with a group like these. I don’t think it’s a introvert/extrovert thing, because I am an introvert who values a group meeting. And I don’t think it’s a time in ministry thing, either.
I think some people are wired to ask for advice and help, and others are not. The reality, however, is the challenges we face will be significantly more manageable when we have done the hard work of creating a network of people who will encourage, correct, advocate, and brainstorm with us.
Who gives you advice and perspective? Who gives you genuine affirmation? Who wants you to become a better leader? Give those people access to your life and watch the difference.
Where I live in Texas we have mesquite trees. They are everywhere. I have a few around my house that have been alive undoubtedly for decades.
Years ago, I spent a a month or so trying to grub mesquite trees. The trick, however, was you had to get down into the root system to truly get rid of them. Generally about 1 foot under the surface, there would be a bulb in the root system, and that was our target. If we could get the bulb, we could get the tree.
Our words should be the same way. As leaders, the things we say need to have roots, need to have substance.
Too many people get by in life by saying things that sound good but really have no substance. Or they say things that stand up until you think about what they’re actually saying, then you realize there is no root in their words.
Some people specialize in surface statements. They want to be quotable and tweet-able, but upon further thought, their statements have no root in truth or reality.
We, as leaders, should be different. Let your statements have root, let them carry weight.
Surface flatters someone for the sake of flattery, but substance points out and highlights the positives in their life.
Just like the mesquite trees that cannot be pushed over, I want what I say to the people around me to be filled with truth, with encouragement, and with love.
The truth is that regardless of what we say, our words have a lasting impact. I’m challenging you, as a leader and as a person in general, to let what you say mean something.
I was a senior in high school, dating my eventual wife. I remember getting to school and hearing how the first plane struck the tower. Then, as we walked into second period, I remember my English teacher talking with us about it and saying it had to have been an accident, there’s no way it could have been done on purpose.
As the day unfolded, we found out she was wrong.
I had no frame of reference to handle the information. Nothing like that had happened in my life before. It is still surreal to think about.
My generation has 9/11. My parents have JFK’s assassination. I have no wise reflections today, only a somber spirit.
So, let’s do this, if you’re reading this, comment and tell me what you remember about September 11, 2001. Where were you when you heard the news? What was your first reaction? What do you remember from the days that followed?
Also, for a fascinating read about Air Force One in the eight hours following the attacks, click here. But not until you comment below!
Today, let’s take a break from our normal flow, if there is such a thing.
11 years ago on August 27, I went to sleep in a terribly uncomfortable chair/bed at Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene, Texas. As I drifted off to sleep I knew my life was never going to be the same.
The next day, my first child was born. August 28, 2007 we welcomed Anna Elizabeth into the world, and boy was I right.
Now, I honestly do not know of any person ever who the night before the birth of their child said “I’m not gonna let this kid change me,” so I probably don’t deserve credit for my (what felt like at the time) profound insight.
But there is something about parenting that changes the way you view the world. I could not be more proud of my precious 11 year old. She is sweet, a book worm, nerdy to the core, and just as snarky as me (that could come back to bite me in a few years). She has a heart of gold, and is generally willing to do whatever possible to help.
Earlier this summer, I let her sit in the room as I taught a group of teenagers the 3 questions. On our way home she was excited and told me how she was going to start asking herself those questions. It was cute, and timely.
The bottom line is this: I would not trade being her daddy for anything. And just in case she reads this one day: Anna, I love you. I pray you will always love God first, and allow His love to flow through you to those around you. Continue to smile and impact the world around you. You have a loving heart, and never be afraid to let that shine.
Here’s to many more years on the adventure of parenthood.