Category: Incoherent Ramblings

Don’t Be Surprised

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I think we all pick up leadership lessons to which we continually return. You learned something along your leadership journey, then forget what you learned, then are reminded of the validity of the lesson.

Recently, I found myself returning to a simple principle I learned a few years ago: don’t let someone’s character surprise you.

Along your leadership journey you will encounter more and more people. After a period in the same situation, you will start to learn more about individuals-their interests, habits, and character.

Then, one day, the inevitable will happen. Someone will do something to disappoint you. They will drop the ball on a project. They will show up late, again. They will gossip. They will fail to show up at all. Any number of possibilities, and they leave you, the leader, dealing with the fall out.

Before you take it out on them, or if you’re like me, take it out on yourself, ask yourself one thing: is this in line with who I know them to be? Do these actions line up with their past behavior?

I cannot promise the answer to this question will soften the blow for you, but I learned a long time ago if I can avoid expecting people to behave in the same way I would behave, I will be much healthier.

We all have faults. I can change my faults. I cannot change yours, nor can I change the faults of those I lead. I can encourage change in others, but I can only change myself.

What recent disappointment in your life resulted from expecting your values and character from someone else? How have you worked through that disappointment? Take some time today to process the situation through the lens of “don’t let someone’s character surprise you”, and see what changes.

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You Can Make a Difference

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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.

Incoherent Ramblings

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I’ve never actually spent any time explaining my categories, so let’s change that.

One of my favorite categories developed last year as I had an intern. As we began the process, I wanted to make sure I was not just assigning her some work to do, but instead was taking time to share with her things I have learned over the years.

So, in order to accomplish that goal, I started making a list of different lessons and tips I have picked up and developed. We carved out time each week to sit down and I would share my “Incoherent Ramblings”.

The topics ranged anywhere from lessons learned in ministry (Don’t let someone’s character surprise you and Don’t hide from hard conversations) to more practical tips (like this one from last week on fundraising). But, there was a nice consistency to the meeting time.

Here on the blog, so much of what I write about falls into the Incoherent Rambling territory. I don’t have to say that I have yet to figure everything out, but I do love learning along the way.

So, today, what would be on your list of incoherent ramblings? What are some tips and tricks you have picked up along the way, the things you think need to be communicated and passed on to the next generation? Have you started a list?

Leave a comment and let me know what you would include!

3 Fundraising Tips

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I am a full time youth pastor. So much of the leadership lessons I learn come from real life experiences. I aim for my content to apply to a broad range, but today I am going to take a slightly different approach and narrow my audience.

Over the last 15 years in paid ministry, I have picked up a few tips along the way to help with fundraising. I have only served in churches where the youth ministry was expected to fundraise to help offset camp and mission trip fees. Here are some tips gleaned along the way.

  1. Context is King – Every church where I have served has had different responses to different events. Some of my favorite fundraisers early on were Ice Cream “Freeze-Offs”, where recently the response hasn’t been so great. Ultimately, find what works in your context. Just because someone had a good experience with it at a different church or town, does not guarantee it will work everywhere.
  2. Offset Costs Where Possible – Recently, I have found having kids sign up to bring the different supplies helps to save a significant amount of money. For example, we will do a “Taco Pile-On” fundraiser lunch in a few weeks. Early on, I would have bought the necessary toppings out of the youth budget. Starting a few years ago, however, I realized if I had kids bring the toppings, then our out of pocket expense would be zero, which meant every dollar received was profit.
  3. Balance On-Site with Off-Site – Depending on the church policies, if you’re able to fund raise off site, try to find a good balance between fundraisers held at church and fundraisers held elsewhere. Make the most of town events. In my current context, our town hosts a city wide garage sale day. In the past we have held our own garage sale (with donated items), sold breakfast burritos, and sold burger deals.

Ultimately, fundraising is something you get better at as you go along, especially with evaluation. What are some things you’ve learned along the way?

If you found this helpful, share it with a friend!

Changing Environments

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I have a very bad habit of driving somewhere, putting my vehicle in park, and sitting in the vehicle for a while before I get out. Sometimes, I do this because I’m listening to sports radio and want to hear the end of the thought being expressed, or maybe I’m just moving slow that day. But occasionally, I hesitate because I don’t want to trade one climate for the other.

If it is bitterly cold outside, then the warmth of my vehicle is too appealing.

If it is raining, I dread stepping out into the rain. (This one doesn’t happen very often as we rarely get rain.)

If the heat outside is blistering, then the allure of the A/C can be too much.

In leadership, we have to be careful about developing a similar habit.

We may find ourselves waiting outside a meeting where we know the atmosphere will be chilled by attitudes.

Or maybe we hesitate to call an important meeting because we fear what may take place.

Or we put off having a tough conversation out of fear the conversation will go to a dangerous place.

Understand this: if you are in a position of leadership, find the balance between looking for problems to blow up and hiding from situations that scare you. You do not have to become a bulldog that tears into every conflict with glee, but you also cannot afford to be a turtle who hides in your shell at the first sign of unpleasantness.

As a leader, someone has placed trust in you to lead, so make the most of that trust.

Over the years, I have found that when I hesitate to do something, my hesitation is a key indicator the something needs to be done. I seldom worry and put off things that do not matter. Is that true for you? What are your own signs of the need for something to be done?

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