We have all been there: we make a decision about someone (their willingness or unwillingness to do something), and then are surprised when they contradict our expectations. The surprise can be good or bad, but it is a surprise either way.
The reality is we can rarely know exactly how someone is going to respond, but for people with whom we have experience, we can anticipate a response. (Here’s a post about not letting someone’s character surprise you.)
Today, I want to go a little different route. Sometimes we compare ourselves to people around us as a way to denigrate our own creativity or ability. I have a youth minister friend who feels they are not as experienced or “good” as others in our circle, but the reality is their combination of experience, creativity, and passion makes them perfectly unique!
When we assume the people around us are doing the things we are doing, we are neglecting a simple truth: people are wired differently. What comes naturally to one, may not come naturally to another. But we will never know unless we ask.
There is something you do naturally that few people find easy, and there is something with which you struggle that other people may find easy. This is lived out in my children: one daughter loves to read and has to work in math, while the other has to work in reading and loves math.
I have two suggestions for you today: First, embrace your strength. What makes you, you? What comes naturally to you that other people have to struggle to accomplish?
Second, help someone else discover what they do naturally. There is someone in your list of contacts, who is walking through the day defeated because they do not realize they are naturally gifted at something. Take on a role to help them discover that today (or the rest of this week).
Make a difference in someone else’s life today.
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Have you ever noticed some people look at situations differently than you?
A few years ago, I heard a radio personality talk about how science has proven women and men look at cleanliness differently. Women actually see dirt more easily than men. It’s not that they have some sort of super vision, but their awareness of filth is higher. This means as a husband, I need to adjust my standards of clean in order to be a blessing to my wife.
This happens in developing student leaders as well. So many times, as youth ministers, we fall into the trap of thinking a student has to meet a certain level of leadership ability in order to take on the mantle. But I would disagree.
In fact, as I have been working with student leaders more intensely over the past 3 years, I have noticed 2 criteria which are critical to developing successful student leaders.
I cannot think of a single situation where anyone has led without first making the most of an opportunity. In fact, without opportunity, nothing happens. Where there is no opportunity, there is no movement.
Opportunities are simple, but it may require you changing how you view situations. The old saying goes “If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” While the intent behind the saying may be negative, the truth is opportunity opens up when we shift our perception.
Every time you meet with students, there is an opportunity for leadership. My question for you is: are you making the most of the opportunities around you to allow students to grow and develop as leaders.
The other part of developing student leaders, and the most critical, is willingness. If a student is not willing to take intentional steps, any effort you exert will be diminished.
A student’s willingness to serve is imperative to their own development. But if you think about it, this concept is a no brainer.
As an adult, if you need to lose weight or cut back on salt, no one else can make that decision for you. It’s a decision you have to make. The people around you can provide opportunities, but it is up to you to make the most of the opportunities.
Students who are willing to serve, are more likely to grow as leaders. Students who are unwilling to serve will hit a ceiling of their own making.
The bottom line is this: if you can find a student who is willing to serve, give them an opportunity to serve and lead, and watch the impact they begin to make!
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I think looking back is important. I find encouragement in data. But the most important thing is looking forward. As we look forward for 3 Question Leadership and 2019, I can’t wait for what comes next.
Until 2019, as we get fully settled into December, I thought I would take a moment today to look back over 2018. Below you will find a link to the best performing post (the post with the most views) from each month. Looking at the titles, if you see one you don’t remember or may have missed, click to read it.
I have put some notes beside a few of the posts. But more important than my thoughts, I would love to hear what post may have impacted you this year. After all, my goal is not to help me grow as a leader, but to help you expand your leadership influence. So, let me challenge you to do something today besides read: if there has been a post that stirred your heart in some way, share it with your friends or comment below to let me know. Also, if you haven’t already, sign up for the email to get posts delivered to your inbox, and be looking for a surprise that may be coming down the pipe later this month.
January – 3 Fundraising Tips (A super practical post for ministry leaders)
February – You Can Make a Difference
March – Context is Key
April – Keep Going (The kickoff to 2018’s “Lessons from the Farm”)
May – Calling vs Job
June – Leadership & Yard Work (What you can learn from asking a 10 year old to mow your yard)
July – Navigating Pace
August – Leadership and An Airport Terminal
September – Substance vs Surface (this one may be my favorite post for the year!)
October – Never Lose Sight of the One
November – When Mistakes are not Mistakes, pt 3
I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Hawaii on my honeymoon. I was 20 years old, and had never been to a beach, so to say it was an experience is an understatement. We were fortunate to be able to take several tours, one of which took us around the island of Oahu to a couple different beaches.
On that tour, one of the stops was a snorkeling expedition. I don’t know about you, but I discovered something that day: snorkeling is not natural. Don’t believe me? Fill your bathtub with water and immerse your face, but breath normally. I’ll wait here.
I distinctly remember floating around and realizing my heart was racing and I was on the verge of a panic attack. I was supposed to be breathing through a tube, but my instinct was to hold my breath. Something had to give.
Leadership can feel the same way. You get into a situation where you think you know exactly what you are supposed to do, but in reality you may have to adjust your natural reactions to meet the needs of the moment.
And in that moment, overwhelm sets in. You begin to wonder if you’re going to be able to adjust, or even if you should have to adjust. You feel like the water is all around you and all you want to do is breathe normally.
Here’s the reality: the only way to avoid leadership overwhelm is to avoid leadership.
If I had stayed on the beach that day, I would never have experienced that moment of panic, but I also would not have seen firsthand one of the most inexplicably fascinating things I’ve seen in my life. Sure, I could watch videos or look at pictures of schools of fish swimming by, but nothing replaces the experience.
Leadership is the same. If you’re feeling overwhelmed today, good. Now, breathe normally and keep going. You’ll adjust and respond accordingly. That’s what leaders do.
And who knows, along the way, you may even influence some people to do the same.
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Hey, you there. You reading this. I’m talking to you. Today’s post isn’t a pie in the sky theoretical thing. It’s a nuts and bolts post. Aimed directly at Student Pastors, but applicable to anyone in leadership.
Did you know the most read post on my blog in 2017 was about taking time to say thank you? I think most people resonate with the challenge of thanking people around us, but find it difficult to make it a regular part of our routine.
On Tuesday, I posted about the effectiveness of hand written notes and challenged you to write one note. Well, today, let’s look at three different types of people who need a note from you.
These people are the real heroes of youth ministry. Their role is crucial to any success or growth you may experience. Don’t believe me? Try serving in a church where you cannot pay a volunteer to show up versus a church where you’re able to establish a 1 adult to 3 students ratio–the difference is staggering.
Take time to show your appreciation for these incredible people who work full time jobs and volunteer their time. Write them all a note at one time, or tell yourself you’re going to write one or two each week. Whatever it takes.
You may not have continual contact with students, but you can make their day by sending them a note. One story in particular comes to mind: I sent a note to a student when she was in 8th grade, just to let her know I was praying for her. Around five years later, we were visiting while she was home from college, and she told me she still had that note. You never know what a student might need to hear, or just being reminded that you’re praying for them.
I alluded to this previously, but if I can make my daughters feel special with a note, why wouldn’t I do that? The same is true for my wife and my family. You may not have children or even a spouse, but I bet you have family of some sort that would love to get a note from you. Write a thank you or a “thinking of you” note to an aunt or uncle who played a significant role in your life and you’ll have the chance to be a blessing to them.
So, there you go. Pick a category, and write another note today. It’s worth the time it will take to write, trust me!
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