Have you ever had a light bulb moment? Maybe you were driving in your car and a statement from earlier in the day popped into your head, followed by a moment of clarity.
Maybe you’ve been wrestling with an issue for quite some time, then while brushing your teeth, it hit you.
Maybe your light bulb moments come when you exercise, or drive, or shower.
But I think we can all think of a time when we had a breakthrough in our thinking, a moment of unparalleled clarity. From there, you gained clarity, focus, direction, purpose, and possibly even motivation.
I had one of those moments this weekend. Because of a family situation, I ended up taking Sunday off. Normally, when I am going to miss, I make a point to line out the hurdles and get someone to cover all the bases. This weekend, however, I forgot one thing: the sound board.
I am a bit of a sound board nerd. I always tell kids if I wasn’t on staff at a church, I would serve in the sound booth. A few years ago, we were able to upgrade our sound board at church to a really nice board, and I am constantly amazed at the power and capabilities. There is so much to know, and I haven’t gotten around to training someone else to run it. I haven’t brought myself to ask the 3rd question when it comes to the sound booth.
After realizing my shortfall, I sent a text Sunday morning, and then received one right before the service. There was some shuffling, but they were able to get the board to work without a hiccup.
And now my lightbulb moment: Sometimes it’s okay to let go of something I enjoy in order to bring someone alongside and train them to accomplish the same thing. After all, and this is a common mantra here, what if the someone I ask to help actually enjoys it more than me? What if they, and this is hard to fathom because I’m awesome, can do a better job than me?
The question for each of us comes down to this: as a minister, is it my job to do the work of the ministry, or to equip others to do the work of ministry?
Not a minister? Then, the question for you is similar: as a leader, is it your job to accomplish tasks, or to equip those around you to accomplish tasks?
We are better together. It’s okay to ask someone to help.
Do you remember being a child and watching clouds, trying to imagine what shape they’re making?
“Ooh, there’s a lion.”
“Whoa, look at the mountain!”
“Hey, that looks like a centaur attacking a cat.”
As a parent, I thoroughly enjoy hearing my girls talk about what a cloud looks like, and then listening as the other one tries to find it. The truth is, just because one daughter thinks it looks like an animal, the other one can think it looks like food, and neither can be wrong.
The difference is perspective. Each girl looks at the same thing and see something different.
The same is true in leadership, and especially in developing student leaders. Perspective makes all the difference. There are teenagers I watch grow and develop and see one thing, while someone else sees something different. One person’s frustration is another person’s compassion.
When we set out to develop student leaders, we have to understand something from the get go: every student has the potential to lead. Let me say that again.
Every student has the potential to lead.
The challenge for us, though, is viewing a student with the right perspective. Some students are natural up front leaders. Their peers naturally look to them, respond to them, and follow them. But what about the student in the background? Are they chopped liver?
My compassion point is not for the up front personality, but for the behind the scenes student. If I can find a student who loves to serve, but does not desire credit for serving, then my heart starts pumping. I know if I can teach that student not only to serve, but to find someone like them and train them to do the same thing, a movement will start.
Now, my compassion for the behind the scenes student does not mean I neglect the up front natural leader. I develop both, but approach each with a different perspective.
Today, what perspective shift do you need in your life? If you’re a youth leader, what is your natural compassion point? How does that influence your actions? What change can you make today?
Can I confess something? I love the New Year! I don’t love resolutions as much as taking time to reevaluate and set some key goals to guide me through the year.
As I have been thinking through what might happen over the next 12 months, I have had an idea keep coming back to me. I have written about it before here, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to write a fresh post for a fresh year.
So, let’s talk about the Horizon of Possibility.
The Horizon of Possibility is a leader’s ability to look at a situation and imagine what could be.
A leader looks at a struggling ministry and sees the lives that could change with a healthy ministry.
A leader looks at a failing organization and sees the steps to put the organization on the right path.
A leader looks at a person and does not see who they are, but who they could be.
A leader looks at a mirror and sees the potential they have to make a difference.
The Horizon of Possibility resides at the heart of every goal and resolution. Everyone who set a goal in the past week (and everyone who has ever set a goal), has looked at where they are and where they could be, and said this is what I want.
What change can you see but those around you have a little more difficult time? What picture do you need to paint? What goal do you need to set? What target do you need to lead others to strive for?
Let me encourage you to take some time to set one or two goals to kick off the New Year. I won’t tell anyone you’re making resolutions or anything crazy like that. Instead, you’re marching toward the Horizon of Possibility.
Let 2019 be a year of influence and change.
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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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