Category: Incoherent Ramblings

Enthusiastic Willingness

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I find myself in a consistent battle. I try not to rock the boat most of the time, so I scrutinize my actions very regularly. I don’t like to make big movements because I prefer to go unnoticed when possible. Now, this isn’t always possible, and I’m completely willing and able to step up when the need arises.

One major downside to my approach is I tend to hold my emotions in, especially excitement.

So, recently, I heard a statement that got me thinking about myself and about leadership implications. In a conversation about a group of people stepping up to meet a need, someone said “Most of them seem to be enthusiastic, and if not enthusiastic, at least willing.”

Immediately, I had two thoughts. First, I am almost always willing. If someone asks me to do something, I actually have a difficult time saying no, so I usually say yes. I’m willing to do what I can. I fancy myself a jack of all trades, so if I’m able to help, I try to make a point to do so.

Second, I paused for a moment to consider if I’m ever enthusiastic about things that I do. Again, this is a shortcoming of mine. I tend to try to keep a steady level, so I’m not a great “hype” guy. Now, I will admit there are things I do that get me excited, and I prepare as if I’m excited.

But do I ever show enthusiasm? Not manufactured enthusiasm, but real and genuine enthusiasm?

Let’s take this one step further. Would you rather follow a leader who is willing, or who is enthusiastic? The answer is easy, right? Enthusiasm brings energy. Enthusiasm brings excitement. Enthusiasm makes a difference.

What about you? How are you at showing enthusiasm? Not a showy enthusiasm, but do you let your genuine excitement motivate those around you to make a difference?

Waiting is the Worst

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Waiting is the worst.

Waiting for culture to change. Waiting for seeds to grow. Waiting for change to acclimate.

The bottom line is that change rarely happens quickly, until it does.

Occasionally, you will see drastic change or dramatic results. It may seem like those things happened in an instant, but what if they didn’t?

What if the waiting is the most critical part of the change? What if during the waiting you spend time preparing for the change, to the best of your ability?

I’ve written before about the Horizon of Possibility, meaning basically as a leader we have the ability to look at what is and see what could be. You may not know exactly what’s going to happen, and for some things you may never be able to fully prepare, but if in the waiting, you make the most of your waiting, what could happen when the tide turns?

What are you waiting for at this moment? How are you preparing for the coming change right now? Live in the now so you can be ready when the time comes.

Leaders Show Up

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If you’ve worked with students for very long (or people in general), I’m guessing the following conversation rings some bells:

Student: I want to step up and be more of a leader.

Me: That’s great! Here are some things to keep in mind.

Student: ***Misses the next month***

Me: …

A few years back I had a leadership team of students who had applied and gone on the leadership trip. Part of the application was agreeing to come to monthly meetings, but as the year waned on, our attendance started dropping, and not only to the monthly leadership meetings.

Now, I have a constant internal struggle about attendance expectations. I have come to the conclusion that I’m a rarity when it comes to church attendance. When I was growing up, I was at the church as much as possible. I didn’t have a bad home life (the opposite, actually), but I loved being together with other believers. For most of my life, I’ve been the kid (and now the guy) who hangs around the church building until almost everyone else has gone.

But most people aren’t wired that way, at least not with church attendance.

Sports, yes. Civic organizations, maybe. Weekly meals with groups of friends, yes. But church, for some reason that’s foreign to me, elicits a lower attendance commitment. (At this point, I need to clarify I’m not equating spiritual maturity to church attendance. I do, however, think our commitment to the body of Christ increases as Christ becomes a greater priority in our life.)

I have wrestled with the disparity between my commitment of attendance and others’ commitment for years. Over time, I realize it’s not fair to expect everyone to be as consistent to church attendance as I am (and was prior to being on staff). I’m wired differently, and that probably plays into why I do what I do.

As I began thinking about how to communicate to students interested in identifying as leaders the importance of attending, I landed on a simple phrase.

Leaders show up.

Simple, right? If leadership at it’s very core is influence, it is extremely difficult to influence a room you’re not physically in, especially early on.

If leadership influence grows through relationship, it’s even more difficult to build relationships with people you’re never around.

If we, as leaders, cannot commit to making our presence a priority, then how can we call ourselves leaders?

The same is true for me. If I expect to become an influencer in the lives of the people to whom I minister, I have to show up. The room should be better because I’m there. If it’s better when I’m not there, then it’s time for a reality check on my part.

Students need to hear this. Adults need to hear this. We need to hear this. Leaders show up. Your presence makes a difference, and it should be a positive difference.

Go be present today.

That’s What We Do

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Monday night I attended a band concert for my oldest daughter. As I was sitting in a chair watching her band-mates leave in droves and wondering where she was, I realized what was happening through a conversation we had a week earlier.

“We show up early and stay late. That’s what we do.”

My sweet, servant minded pre-teen (I can’t help but think there’s going to be a slight “interruption” sooner rather than later) has been raised by parents who show up early and stay late. It’s been ingrained in her, unnaturally, because she’s been drug to events early and kept late for years.

Now, this isn’t intended to be a dad-brag. Instead, it’s a study of leadership osmosis. I find one of the ways I serve most effectively is by showing up early and staying late, and in spite of me never actually coming out and teaching my child this mindset, she learned it by virtue of being dragged to places.

So how do we teach students who don’t live under our roof the same mindset? By including them. Give them opportunities. Recognize when they see the bigger picture, and celebrate it. Invite them again. Help them see the need and help them see they can meet the need.

One method I use to help teenagers see the subtle shift is the three questions. If a student can begin to ask themselves “What’s the bigger picture? What needs to be done?”, then we begin to take steps to moving them into a realm of leveraging influence.

But it has to start somewhere. Let me say that again. It has to start somewhere. We have to have conversations with them to help them see the opportunity.

What are you doing to develop leaders around you? How are you developing them? What steps are you willing to take to develop them? What changes do you need to make?

Leadership is Tough

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Leadership is tough. The constant battle that wages war between finding a groove and not being satisfied with where things are can take a toll over time.

Comfort versus progress provide the background for an ongoing tension.

That’s where vision and focus come into play. During seasons where comfort starts to settle into a situation, a clear vision helps me move forward.

Knowing what your target should be helps orient your aim at the end of the day. Having an idea of how to track your success and growth helps you not feel overwhelmed.

What’s your vision and focus for your current context? Do you have one? How are you measuring your successfulness? Ministers, is it attendance? Is it buy in? Is it something else?

As a leader, no one in the organization is as committed to the success and fruitfulness of your area as you are (or should be). Few people you lead lay their head down at night worrying about that little detail that has been rubbing you the wrong way all day.

You carry a burden for the success and growth of your ministry (or business). The burden, at times, feels feather light, while at other times it feels like a bag of bricks. That’s the burden of leadership. Your greatest test as a leader may not be your success as much as your endurance. If you can run the race and remain faithful, your impact over the years gains positive perspective. But you have to remain faithful where you are. You have to remain committed.

So, once again, what your vision and focus for your current context? What are you aiming for? Are you hitting it? Are there changes that need to be made? Are you willing to make the changes?

The reality is that leadership is tough, but you have an opportunity to take a stand and make the kind of difference you’re called to make. Hang in there, and keep expanding your leadership influence.

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