Why I Love Leadership Trip

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I’m in the process of wrapping up our 5th annual Student Leadership trip. Here are three things I absolutely love about our leadership trip.

  1. The Variety – We have talked to three different people already, with one left. Each person has presented unique information. In fact, in the 5 years of doing our trip this way, I have never had speakers overlap in what they talk about. On top of that, the topics they share often are things I never would have considered sharing or covering.
  2. The Relationships – The biggest benefit of this trip is the time together. This year we had a smaller group make the trip, so our time together has been able to be much more intentional. Our discussions have gone deeper, and the things I have brought up along the way have sparked great conversations.
  3. The Intentionality – We have been able to be very intentional and pointed in some of our discussions. Being away from home, on a trip designed for leadership, we have had the perfect opportunity to address some things that needed addressing.

I am so grateful for the people who have shared and who are going to share with my kids on this trip. I am looking forward to seeing how these students grow as leaders as a result over the next year.

If you are a youth pastor, I would encourage you to consider making a trip like this (click here to read more). Whether you have a formal Student Leadership Team or not, it has been worth the effort on my end, without a doubt.

Communicating Expectations

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You know, for someone who has written 150+ blog posts about leadership, you might think I would learn some of my own stuff along the way.

Last week we took a trip, and one of the biggest tensions on the trip was the realization that I had not clearly communicated expectations.

Years ago, I realized that trips would go smoother if I were able to communicate what I expect from students on a trip, so I typed up a sheet with about 15 bullet points. Most of them were simple (work hard, respect adults, Christ first, etc.). Each trip I pass those expectations out, and we go over them. It’s been a solid approach for a number of years.

Then, last week, I realized something I had left off the list. In fact, it was something I have never considered as part of the communicating expectations part of any trip. The result: pain and anguish.

I would get frustrated and respond to situations poorly because I was frustrated, but because I wanted to show grace, I would relax my guideline. So, basically what was happening was the kids on the trip never knew what to expect. How was I going to react? They couldn’t predict, so they coped in their own way.

The tag line on this site is “helping expand your leadership influence.” If I could challenge you to do one thing, aside from asking the 3 Questions, I would implore you to learn to clearly and specifically communicate expectations.

Leadership does not happen in a vacuum. When I blog, I am not speaking only about self-leadership. Leadership happens when we create movement in a group of people toward a common goal. Leadership happens when we lead others to accomplish something.

But, if the people you are leading do not know what to expect, they will either live in a state of second guessing and fear, or they will go off the rails doing what they want.

Learn to effectively communicate expectations, whether it be behaviorally, situationally, results, or interactions. When you make it clear what you expect, the number of people who line up to follow you will continue to grow.

Calling vs Job

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A few years ago I took a break from full time ministry. During that time, I worked on my dad’s farm and served part time at a church. This week I have been reflecting on one of the conversations I had with my dad toward the end of my time farming.

My wife and I were wrestling with returning to full time ministry. We thought it was maybe time to send our resume out and see what happened.

I remember pulling up to the barn, turning the key off, and sitting in the pickup for the conversation that followed. As I talked with my dad about the transition, he told me “I can tell your heart isn’t in farming. When I was your age I spent spare moments dreaming what I could do to make the farm more successful. You don’t do that.”

My dad wasn’t belittling me, but he was pointing out something he saw in me: Farming wasn’t my calling. Ministry was my calling.

He was right. I didn’t spend my spare moments thinking about the farm. On the contrary, I spent my spare moments thinking about church. Farming was what I did for almost 3 years so I could serve part time at a church. Farming was where my paycheck came from. It was how I provided for my family.

So, what’s the difference between calling and a job? When we find our calling (ministry, farming, teaching, etc.), we are able to throw ourselves into it. We do what we do out of love for the opportunity, because we couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

When we have a job, we leave work and start thinking of something else. That something else is likely your calling, and it’s not limited to ministers and farmers.

I have a friend who over the past few years has worked in the oil field, then as an aviation mechanic. Just recently, however, he seems to have found his calling. Last summer, he finished police academy and has been serving as a police officer ever since. He loves it. He knew his calling for years after finishing the military, and finally got the opportunity to pursue it, and I couldn’t be happier for him.

What’s your calling? Is your current occupation your calling? Or, are you working a job until you can pursue your calling? This isn’t an easy answer, but my hope for you is that you will find the joy of fulfilling your calling.

Build Your Own Student Leadership Trip

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Here’s a post from May 2017 about our Student Leadership Trip. I’ve been prepping our 2018 trip for the past week and thought this was a good summary of what we do.

As I mentioned on Tuesday, I was on a Student Leadership Trip earlier this week. It was a great trip, and something we’ve been doing for the past four years.

I write most of my posts and try to keep them general enough to be applicable to most people who are seeking to grow their leadership capacity. My current context, however, is leading a youth/student ministry.

So, today, I’m going to share the master principle for my student leadership trip.

I contact men and women whom I respect in ministry and ask them to share for about 15-30 minutes any leadership lesson they’ve learned. Then, I load my student leaders into a van and drive to the people I contacted.

Simple, right?

With this setup, I get to customize my own leadership conference, and don’t have to pay the conference price per kid. Plus, I get great relational time in a 15 passenger van.

I’m extremely grateful for the people who poured into the lives of my students this year, and I love getting to hear each student reflect on what they learned.

If you happen to be reading this and were one of the people who shared this year, or have shared in the past four years, let me say thank you. Your investment in student leaders is paying off, and I am forever grateful for our friendship.

If you’re a youth minister, or know a youth minister, please share this article. I truly believe developing leaders is a joy, but it can be hard to find a place to start.

Lastly, I have written a few tips for how I process through my student leadership trip. If you would like a copy, comment below with your email address and I’ll be happy to send it to you. Thanks for reading!

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Let Go

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I took last Wednesday off to go on a trip with my oldest daughter and her class. In doing so, I asked one of the adults who helps on Wednesday to take over our weekly program.

I will miss a Wednesday night generally about one to two times per year, and I’m starting to realize the most creative times we have on a Wednesday are the nights I’m not in charge.

There is something freeing about being able to miss a service and not have to worry about how things are going to go. The temptation, however, is to want things to go just like they would had I not been there.

Very rarely will you find someone who will do a good job at keeping things exactly the way you have them, but part of leadership is letting a person’s unique voice shine.

So, today, what do you need to let go of in your leadership? Is there something to which you have been clinging but you know it’s time to let go? Or, maybe like a bunch of ministers, you need to take a Wednesday or a Sunday off, and let someone else lead for the moment. You never know what you might learn about yourself if you do just that.