I have remarkably soft hands. Thankfully, most people don’t point this out on handshakes. But for some reason, I don’t have rough, cracked hands.
Part of that may be when I worked on the farm I preferred to wear gloves when possible. I hate having my hands covered in filth. It’s hard to explain. I wouldn’t say it’s a phobia or that it encroaches into the realm of OCD, but I was diligent in protecting my hands.
Have you ever tried to change the wheel bearing on a farm implement? Have you ever heard the term “grease monkey”? There’s a connection between the two. Changing a wheel bearing means one end result–grease gets everywhere.
One summer, my boss (okay, my dad) was literally out of the country, and we had a wheel bearing that needed to be changed. I knew how to change the bearing, but I hadn’t actually changed one before. So guess what? I got to have a great experience culminating in my being filthy. The thing about wheel grease is that it gets everywhere, and you have to use quite a bit to do the job correctly.
As uncomfortable as it was to get dirty and filthy that day, the reality was the job needed to get done, and I was the one to do it.
Leadership is the same. There are undoubtedly leadership tasks that strike fear deep inside of you. Maybe you’ve been able to get by all this time without having to face that uncomfortable moment.
I have bad news for you: your day is coming. Before you know it, you are going to have to face that tough situation head on and get your hands filthy.
Your approach, however, determines your outcome. I could have moaned and complained all day about having to change that wheel bearing, but the job went much smoother when I just accepted the job and did it.
Whatever it is that you’re avoiding–a conversation, a situation, a person, a task–you get to choose your approach. Keep avoiding it and fearing it, and the monster grows. Face it head on and you never know what might happen. You may get your hands dirty and be excited about it.
The genesis of my blogging adventure began with a simple concept: sharing three questions I started teaching students leaders to ask and answer in an attempt to expand their leadership influence.
If you’re new to 3QL, I would encourage you to go check out the Foundation to see a short summary of the namesake for this endeavor. Go ahead, this post will wait for you.
The abbreviated version boils down to this: When you walk into a room (or encounter a situation in general), ask yourself…
Lately I’ve been reflecting on the simplicity of the questions. Asking and answering the questions opens doors we could never imagine, but the three questions are also counter intuitive.
One of the easiest lies to buy into is that leadership belongs to those at the front (of the line, of the organization, of the room). But we all have seen the impact someone can have on a room from a seat that’s not the front.
So leadership is not limited to the front. John Maxwell’s second law of leadership is “The Law of Influence: The True Measure of Leadership is Influence – Nothing More, Nothing Less.” When we grow our influence, we grow our leadership.
The same is true in Youth Ministry (and life in general). When we teach students (or anyone) to ask and answer the three questions, what we are doing is preparing them to make an impact where they are.
If you’re reading this today, let me issue a challenge. A student doesn’t have to pay dues before having influence. Granted, there are benefits to life experience, but the gamble we take in Youth Ministry is waiting too long to provide leadership opportunities.
Don’t wait. Develop leaders regardless of their age. You never know what may happen. Pour into your older students, but also be willing to pour into and invest in your younger students as well. When you build a balance, you’ll be amazed at the difference you’ll begin to notice.
And if you’re not sure where to start, get a group of students with hearts of a servant, teach them the three questions, and ask them how they answered the questions. You’ll be amazed at what begins to happen.
I’m not as young as I used to be. Isn’t that the motto of every adult?
Sunday night I played pickup basketball for the first time in a while (I don’t remember the last time I played, honestly). And guess what? I was tired and sore afterwards.
I live a decently active lifestyle. I exercise daily, can get out and run a mile or two at a comfortable pace without walk breaks, but I’m pretty convinced there’s nothing that can physically prep you for basketball sore.
In reality, any type of exercise targets a unique collection of muscles. Running requires a different combination than cycling. Cycling requires a different combination than rowing or HIIT. Seems obvious, right?
Leadership is the same way. If you want to grow in your leadership influence (and I’m hoping that’s why you’re here), then you have to exercise your influence muscles.
Put another way: if you want to become a better leader, you have to practice leading.
This concept was very difficult for me as a 19 year old. I wanted to serve in a ministry role, but the reality was my experience in actually leading was very limited. I didn’t see it at the time, but I do now.
The good news is while we are waiting to lead in the way we’ve always dreamed of leading, we get to practice leading in the way we need to lead in the moment. And while we practice leading now, we may just realize the way we’ve always dreamed of leading isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, or even how we’ve been called to lead.
Today, you’re faced with a decision. Are you going to take the necessary steps to lead? Very few people experience long term leadership success by accident–it’s a conscious decision. What situation facing you needs attention? What conversation needs to take place? Who needs an opportunity to step up? Who needs an opportunity to step down? What relationship needs strengthening today?
Are you willing to take the necessary steps today to exercise your leadership muscles in an effort to be a better leader tomorrow? I hope you are, and I’m glad we’re walking this adventure together!
Confession time, again. I’ve been blogging about leadership for over two years now, and just recently read (listened to, actually) John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.
The laws Maxwell lays out are concise and incredibly insightful. I would encourage you to pick up a copy today and check it out, after you finish reading this post.
The fifth law Maxwell shares, The Law of Addition–Leaders Add Value by Serving Others, grabbed my attention.
If you are reading this because you want to grow in your leadership influence (I’m writing this because I want you to grow in your leadership influence, btw), then take a moment today to ponder this law.
You make an impact on those around you not by how well you speak or plan, but by the value you add to the lives of those you lead. Now that’s no excuse to speak or plan poorly, but learning to live by the law of addition helps you grow as a leader.
Speak truth into tough situations.
Be the smiling face willing to answer questions.
Send a note of encouragement.
Find ways to add value to those you lead. Get to know them, their families, their priorities, their worries, and their dreams. When you make an effort to make their lives better, the return is incredible.
Don’t believe me? Take a moment to think of a great leader you know. I’m sure big names and authors come to mind, but chances are you remember a teacher or coach who went the extra mile with you. They made an effort to add value to your life by serving you, and you will remember them forever because of it.
You have a great opportunity today to add value to those around you. Make the most of it!
If you’re reading this near the original publishing date, I’ve got some good news: Lessons from the Farm is coming in April. Over the past two years, some of the best response I have seen has come from the Lessons from the Farm series. So, over the next few weeks, you might want to check out a few of the past lessons. Here are some of my favorites:
Today, let’s shift gears a little. I ran across a quote earlier this week and thought I would share it:
The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.Tony Blair
If you have been in leadership for very long at all, you have felt the tension of deciding between yes and no.
As a leader, saying no is not an automatic response, but many times the necessary response after weighing the possibilities. Our role as a leader is to look at the bigger picture and make decisions based on the information presented, as opposed to being able to zero in on a single situation and make a decision based on limited factors.
Parents know this struggle. Our child comes to us, wanting a toy/snack/prize/drink, but we know the looming results. Sometimes it can be exhausting to be the adult in the relationship, but the truth remains–someone has to be willing to say no.
I know for most people I don’t have to say the following, but for someone I do: Saying no all the time is bad leadership. Beware of being the person who never says yes. As someone who battles the balance, learn to say yes and pursue the adventure.
Today, you may be presented with an opportunity. It may be a great opportunity. It may be a mediocre opportunity. Do you have the wisdom to discern between the two, and the courage to give the right answer, not the easy one?