Leading from Creativity

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Over the past 4 days I’ve completed two different projects, both of which have been furniture. The process I used to accomplish each one is quite different, however.

My first project was something I’m calling a “grill prep station”. It’s construction was very basic. I had two pallets, one of which I was able to cut in half and still keep each half uniform in build. I attached the half pallets to the full size pallet, added a couple 2×8 boards I had laying around, and found three or four more boards to complete the project.

I only cut one or two boards, but everything else was very much a “this might work here” progression. In the end, I love my prep station. There’s room for growth, and I can change things around without any remorse, because it wasn’t supposed to match a blueprint anyway.

The end result is a place for me to place plates, food, seasonings, drinks, and my bluetooth speaker, all while enjoying an evening grilling.

Some leadership experiences are like this: I’m going to make the most of what I have, get creative, and be proud of the end result.

We may find ourselves in an unorthodox situation, and leading requires out of the box thinking. This is natural and beneficial for a team.

Leaders who can see what I refer to as the Horizon of Possibility, look at the materials that have been given to them, and they create what they can dream. The materials may be physical, financial, or in terms of personnel, but the end result is something worthy of satisfaction.

We can all probably think of someone who, with extremely limited resources and personnel, made a drastic impact on the world. They didn’t follow a blueprint, but instead said “this might work” and gave it a shot.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, embrace the freedom that comes from not having to follow a blueprint. You can make a mistake, but that’s okay. Roll with the mistake and make it a strength!

But don’t let yourself become tied to this way of leading as the only way. On Thursday, we will look at the benefits of the other method of leading: following a plan.


3 Questions & Hurricane Harvey Relief

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Would you like to know a secret? The 3 Questions are not a new concept. They were birthed out of observation more than anything else. I simply put the thoughts into a process, which is far from revolutionary.

A contemporary example of how we can answer the three questions in real life is helping with Hurricane Harvey relief.

As the news stories and pictures and reports roll in about the devastation, how many people with boats have made the trip to help offer rescue? How many first responders have migrated to try to offer help?

All of these people, whether they realize it or not, are working the three questions: What needs to be done, What can I do, and Who can I get to help?

I know of churches who are asking that question today. For some, what they can do is limited by age, and for others their financial situations may prevent other solutions.

But ultimately, as they (and we) work through the 3 questions, let me offer a few suggestions:

  1. Don’t feel like you have to do everything. If you cannot make the trip, do not let that keep you from giving. Fight the mindset that says “If I can’t go, then what’s the point.”
  2. Find something you can do. Read reports, google search for needs. Give what is most beneficial, not what is simplest to give away.
  3. Equip those around you to participate. Find a way to include others in your plan. You might even try to brainstorm with them to see what you can do together.

In a time like this, leadership becomes key. But please don’t lead for the sake of saying you led, but instead lead with a purpose. Let your efforts have an end result of life change. Equip those around you who don’t know how to help.

Finally, and most importantly, pray for those who are suffering and recovering. The damage is incomprehensible, and some people will never fully recover from the devastation. Pray for those who have lost, pray for those who give of time and resources, and pray for the recovery in days ahead.

Check It Out: Hard Conversations

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Today’s Check It Out is a lesson, again, I learned years ago: waiting for the “right time” to have a hard conversation is often cut short by the arrival of the “necessary time”. Click over and check it out.

Don’t Hide from Hard Conversations

Practicing the 3 Questions

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I had a humbling experience last week. One of my peers in youth ministry, who has been a big supporter of my blog to this point, posted a picture of his computer screen. What made it humbling was the side of his monitor where he had written the 3 questions on a sticky note and left it there as a reminder. (Click here if you’re not sure what the 3 Questions are.)

Then, another peer commented he had them written on his white board, and I was struck by something.

Perception makes all the difference.

I have been using these three questions as a way to equip and encourage student leaders for a little over a year, but how well do I apply them to my own life?

If I were going to be honest with you (and why wouldn’t I?), I wrestle with the exact same part of the three questions as most of my students: the third question.

I’m a wonderful analyzer, and I have a stubborn streak that tends to say “I’ll do this myself”, but I fail time and time again at asking and answering the third question.

But if I’m serious about growing my own leadership influence, I have to start somewhere.

And one thing I know, when I do ask and answer the third question, I love to watch what happens. I love seeing people find a spot to serve. I love equipping others to step up and meet needs.

Ultimately, the three questions are what we use them to be. We can train student leaders, or adults. But, most importantly, we can use them to grow as leaders ourselves.

Look for ways to answer the three questions in your personal life today.

Lessons from the Big Chair: Communicate Well

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The church where I serve has been without a pastor since January, and I have had the privilege of serving alongside an incredibly wise, discerning, and experienced interim pastor over the past four months. As that time has drawn to an end and we have a new pastor coming in a few weeks, I thought I would spend some time reflecting on a few lessons I learned along the way. Today will be the last post in this series.

It’s really hard to narrow down some of the major lessons I’ve learned, while at the same time trying to keep situations general. Let me finish the series with the final piece of advice he gave me as he left: keep the lines of communication open.

So many leadership struggles happen as a result of poor communication. I find myself referring to people as “black holes of information” whereas just this week my loving wife accused me of the being the same thing.

Communication can be hard.

While communicating, intent can get ignored.

Content can get confused.

Comments can get misunderstood, and tensions can rise.

That’s why, as leaders, we need to learn to continually keep the lines of communication open, going both ways. We need to communicate well with those we lead, but we also need to be willing to listen and establish a culture of two-way communication.

So, how are you doing at communicating this week? Do you need to work out a situation with someone in a supervisory role above you? What about someone you are leading who may need to communicate with you? What are you doing to help them find opportunities to communicate with you?

Or maybe, for you, communicating means simply checking in and asking how life’s going. Whatever it looks like, keep the lines of communication open and watch your leadership influence grow.