Category: Lessons from the Farm

Lessons from the Farm

Lessons from the Farm: When to Stop

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Welcome to our 2nd year of Lessons from the Farm! Click here to read posts from last year.

I grew up working with my dad on his farm. We raised cattle, wheat, cotton, and whatever else he thought would make a profit. Lucky for me, I learned a few things along the way. 

Earlier this week, I posted about not stopping when you’re trying to move forward. I would recommend if you haven’t read the first post, click here and read it before reading today. And yes, today’s picture is an authentic picture as well, just not something I did.

Here’s the thing about getting stuck. Once you get stuck, more than likely you’re not going to pull yourself out alone. In fact, in my experience, when I got stuck and kept telling myself I could work myself out, a lot of times I only dug a deeper hole.

So, today’s leadership principle is know when to stop and ask for help.

There seems to be an aura in society about asking for help. People are ashamed to do it. Often times, I’m embarrassed to ask for help. It’s embarrassing to send your boss (much less your dad) a picture of a pickup buried to the frame. It’s even more embarrassing as a 28 year old to send the same picture to the 17 year old kid who works with you.

As leaders we convince ourselves that asking for help is a sign of weakness. We are the leader, so why would we need help? Are we not supposed to be the expert? We should know better.

Or, maybe you’ve served with someone who asked for help so much you felt like all they were doing was trying to get out of doing actual work, and you do not want to come across that way.

But, when you’re stuck, you’re stuck. Scroll up and look at today’s picture again. Do you think there’s any way that tractor is getting out on it’s own? It’s not equipped to do it. The front tires alone (it’s not an all wheel drive tractor) are almost completely buried.

In leadership, the same thing can happen. We can get to a place where we’ve tried and tried to work our way out, but the truth is we have dug ourselves such an incredible hole, we have to ask for help.

Help comes in a variety of ways, but here are three:

  1. Trusted friends – Maybe all you need is a little push so your tires can grab. Trusted friends are great for this! They keep you honest, humble, and moving forward. Surround yourself with people who think differently than you, and everyone wins.
  2. Conferences – Something about getting away and being exposed to new or different ideas and concepts gets our creative juices flowing. I’m excited because next week (April 12-13, 2018), I’m going to a conference designed to help me process through specifically the struggles I’m facing right now. (If you’re a youth worker and want to know more, go here to find out more and to register.)
  3. Professional Counseling – I cannot tell you how many significant leaders to whom I listen or read have stressed the importance of counseling. Sometimes, when you’re stuck, the best step is to seek the help of a professional.

The bottom line is this: we all get stuck at some point. Great leaders know they’re stuck and are not afraid to ask for help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but of maturity.

 

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Lessons from the Farm

Lessons from the Farm: Keep Going

Stuck
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Welcome to our 2nd year of Lessons from the Farm! Click here to read posts from last year.

I grew up working with my dad on his farm. We raised cattle, wheat, cotton, and whatever else he thought would make a profit. Lucky for me, I learned a few things along the way.

Can I confess something? Even now, at my age, I’m not entirely sure what to do when driving through mud. I know experience is supposed to be the best teacher, but here’s what my experience taught me: don’t stop.

The picture featured today is 100% authentic. I was driving down a river bed (dry for the most part), and found myself in sand. I was going pretty slow, so I decided to stop and switch to 4×4 low.

That was my first mistake. I stopped and lost any momentum I had. What happened next is exactly what you see. All four wheels started spinning, but I only went deeper.

The same is true in leadership. You will have days where you feel like you can’t do anything wrong. And other days, you will feel like you’re barely moving at all.

In ministry, this looks like seasons where you’re baptizing every week, and then you go months without any baptisms. Or maybe your attendance is up higher than it’s ever been, and then all of a sudden you notice a steady decline.

In business, it looks different. Never give up trying to build your client list, even when you think it may be time to throw in the towel.

Don’t stop. Do not forfeit your momentum. Find the good things that are happening, and hold on to them. You may not be making the progress you want to make, but keep making progress.

Success is not a calling. Success is a result. I cannot think of anyone who became successful because they surrendered their momentum.

Faithfulness is a calling. You are being called to be faithful to what you’ve been called to do. Even when you feel like giving up. Even when you feel like you’re not making a difference. Push through.

Keep your eyes fixed on Christ, and keep going.

 

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Lessons from the Farm

Lessons from the Farm: Work Until the Job is Done

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Today I am going to finish up my first theme. I’m calling these posts “Lessons from the Farm”. You can read the first post here, or click the Lessons from the Farm Category to the left.

If you haven’t read the first part of this post, click here. Okay, that’s all the links for now.

Our leadership principle for today: never leave cattle on the truck. There will be tasks and opportunities that cannot be left until they are completed.

A worthwhile harvest never happens if you do not plant with urgency.

Cattle out on the highway cannot wait until the morning.

A student in the emergency room at 2am needs attention.

And sometimes, driving home through a blizzard to safely deliver the herd cannot be stopped because it’s “quitting time”.

Every day in my ministry, I face different tasks, responsibilities, and opportunities. Each one presents a different challenge and a different dynamic, and my job is to find which ones cannot wait until tomorrow, and do them.

Sometimes the line is clear. Sometimes it is not. But I have made the commitment to always be willing to do the work that is necessary.

Because I will never leave cattle on the truck.

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Lessons from the Farm

Lessons from the Farm: Don’t Leave Cattle on the Truck

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This week I am going to finish up my first theme. I’m calling these posts “Lessons from the Farm”. You can read the first post here, or click the Lessons from the Farm Category to the left.

Just a little background: My lesson today comes from a more recent learning. A few years back, I took a break from full time ministry to serve bi-vocationally. During that time, farming and ranching was my main income, but the lessons learned have not left me yet.

A winter weather storm was moving our direction one day, and it was time to buy more cattle (2 Semi trucks and one 40 foot stock trailer worth). That meant we had three trips from the sale barn to the farm, and only two drivers.

My dad and I made the first trip, he was in the truck and I was in the pickup pulling the stock trailer. We unloaded at home around 7:30, and decided to ride back together, arriving back at the sale barn at 9pm behind 8 trucks waiting to load.

While we waited, the winter storm hit. Snow started lightly falling at first. Eventually, the brunt of storm hit and we were waiting in a snow covered parking lot. Our trailer was still empty.

We got home, unloaded, and walked into our houses that night well after midnight. My pregnant wife was struggling awake, waiting to make sure we got home safely.

The lesson: We never left cattle on the trucks. Weather, exhaustion, anger, confusion, or any other reason. We always worked until the job was done.

Thursday I will finish unpacking what I learned from that night. Until then, I’ll leave you with this question: are you willing to drive an 18-wheeler loaded with cattle through a snow storm to finish the task at hand? What are you leaving unfinished that needs to be finished?

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Big Picture, Lessons from the Farm

Lessons from the Farm: Same Destination, Different Paths

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Welcome to my series called “Lessons from the Farm”. You can read the other posts here.

Just a little background: I grew up working on my Dad’s farm. As I’ve grown older and spent more time away, there are few leadership principles I have realized along the way.

When I got into high school, my dad started raising more cattle. Part of raising cattle is moving them from one place to another. Over the years, we moved countless herds.

A lesson I had to quickly learn was to find the balance between knowing the destination and not getting stuck on having to stay on one single path. Map quest will not map out a path for a cattle drive.

When moving cattle you have to know your destination and push the herd in the general direction, understanding sometimes you’re not going to move in a straight line.

The same is true in leadership. Knowing our destination is vitally important, but we have to be careful about being completely tied to the path we’ve laid out. If we are unwilling or unable to adjust to the unexpected detours or slight course alterations, we become too rigid and no one wants to follow us.

Learning how to lead includes learning how to accommodate the unexpected and use the forward momentum to move toward the destination.

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