Last week my Father-in-law, Andy, passed away. I plan to reflect a little more on his passing in a future post, but for today I want to take a different approach.
Over the course of the past year our family has walked an interesting path. Andy was diagnosed with Stage 4 Esophagus and Stomach cancer, and the outlook wasn’t positive. He chose to try chemo, so my wife spent a considerable amount of time helping take care of him over the past 12 months.
As I slow down this week to reflect on the past 12 months, one thought rises above the rest: Support Counts.
We have a wonderful church family who has supported us through the journey. They offered to help lighten my load while my wife was gone. They encouraged my wife. They have walked alongside us through it.
At the end of the day, their support meant the world to our family.
The leadership lesson here is two-fold:
So, what relationship can you build on today to help provide support? To whom do you need to reach out and offer some support? Be an encouragement today!
We are one month into the New Year. At the beginning of January I posted how I love the momentum a New Year brings. Today, I thought we would check in to see how you’re doing after the first 30 days.
Carey Nieuwhof has become a leader in the ministry leadership space, and I found this post on his blog: 7 Reasons You New Year’s Resolutions Go Up in Flames and How to Change That.
I think evaluating is a key part of leadership, so if you set some goals on January 1 and aren’t making progress toward them, maybe it’s time to reevaluate and see what you need to do to make some progress.
One down. Eleven more to go. Let’s make progress this year.
Each April I post a series about “Lessons from the Farm” where I reflect on leadership lessons I picked up along the way. Today’s post is a peak into my favorite series.
I’ll never forget the strangest harvest we ever had on the farm. In the fall we planted wheat. I saw the bags, saw the seeds, and knew the drill (pun intended). We waited patiently for the first of the crop to break through the ground. I’ve always said there are few things more beautiful to my eyes than a good wheat crop at almost any stage.
Well, this year was different. As the seeds sprouted and started to break the crust, we noticed something different. Wheat was not what was growing. Instead, breaking through the ground was acres and acres of cotton.
Sound a little strange? That’s because it never happened. Every year, when we planted a seed, we knew what the seed would grow into. Wheat seed grows into wheat. Cotton seed grows into cotton. Seems pretty obvious, right? We harvest what we plant.
Let’s shift to a garden. Would you work the ground in a garden and plant a peach tree and expect jalapeños to grow instead? Why not? Because we harvest what we plant.
Now, we may not know the health of what we harvest, but we know what to expect it to produce.
Leadership is no different: we harvest what we plant.
If we plant seeds of discontent and constant doubt about others’ abilities, we will harvest the fruit of discontent and constant doubt about others’ (and eventually our) abilities.
If we plant seeds of dependence on us to do everything and take all the initiative, we will harvest the fruit of people depending on us to do everything and take all the initiative.
If we plant seeds of empowerment, however, we will harvest the fruit of people who have grown to feel empowered.
Do you see the pattern? It seems pretty simple, right? Except sometimes we plant the wrong seed with the right intentions. We train the people we lead to accomplish a mindset for which we were not prepared.
The enemy of leadership is not always outside forces. The enemy of leadership is very often our unwillingness to let go, to empower.
That’s what the 3 questions bring to the table. In the framework of the 3 questions we learn to sow seeds of awareness, willingness and leadership. When we teach people to ask and answer the 3 questions, what begins to happen is those people feel empowered.
What seeds are you sowing? Or, if you’ve been in your current role for a while, what frustrations are you facing that are truly the harvest of the seeds you’ve planted?
Guess what, it doesn’t always happen, but sometimes when a crop is no good, it’s okay to plow the field and plant some new seeds. It may not mean a fresh start, but it may mean a refocusing of purpose and energy, and who wouldn’t benefit from a refocus from time to time?
Can I confess something? Few things frustrate me more than when someone operates with a belief that I know something I do not.
It happens more often than I care to admit. I get into a conversation and someone has information they think is common knowledge, but they do not realize I have not been informed of the key piece of information, thus losing me before the conversation begins.
Can I confess something else? I wrestle with this in myself all the time.
Honestly, I do. Am I holding someone else to an expectation they have no way of knowing they are being held to? Am I expecting people around me to live up to my standards because they know what my standards are, or because they should just know. I mean, really, my pet peeves are everyone else’s pet peeves, right?
I think letting ourselves fall into the trap of the leadership secret is one of the hidden roadblocks of effective leadership.
The leadership secret bases decisions, actions, and attitudes solely on information the people around you have no way of knowing, and then expecting them to respond as if they know.
The leadership secret happens when someone, behind closed doors, behaves in a way we never expected, but in front of others never shows that side. So we begin to think less of people who respect the person, even though they would have never seen the other side.
The leadership secret happens when we know someone is struggling and watch as people mercilessly attack them for something separate, and then work ourselves up to defend them, all the while expecting everyone to know what we know, without us telling them.
I am not advocating gossip, or even being a megaphone for secrets. Instead, I am advocating taking a moment to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and ask: “Do they know what I know?” In doing so, maybe we learn to deal with people individually.
There’s another side to the leadership secret, though. There are times in leadership when information needs to be communicated. This is a very delicate line to walk. I am by nature a very private person, so I tend to bristle when someone shares something about me I did not approve. But the truth of the matter is sometimes the battle we (or someone else) is fighting needs to be made known.
As a body of believers, one of our goals is to love and challenge people to grow. Sometimes, this is done by surrounding them and helping them move forward.
“I accidentally lost 50 pounds this year!”
“I accidentally read 20 books this month!”
“I accidentally lead our church to grow by 300%!”
There are some things we will never hear. Accidents happen, but rarely do accidents happen for the positive. People unknowingly gain weight, but only occassionally does anyone lose significant weight without any thought put into it (unless it’s a stomach bug, in which the thought is “I wish I were dead.”)
I’ve been listening to Dave Ramsey lately. His realm of influence is money. He wants his listeners to get out of debt and to live lives of generosity. One of his keys pieces of advice is to stop wondering where your money went and tell it where to go with a zero sum budget. He encourages his listeners to be intentional with their money, and the stories of people whose lives are changed are remarkable.
Leadership is the same way. Leadership rarely happens by accident. Let me rephrase that. Great leadership rarely happens by accident.
In fact, if you were to truly study the most influential leaders you know (whether it be ministry, thought, electronics, etc.), I truly believe there will be one constant in each of their lives: intentionality.
Intentionality in leadership takes many shapes and many forms, but the simplest beginning is this: deciding how you are going to be intentional. We can all say we are going to do something, but until we decide how we are going to do it, it won’t happen.
Diets are the same. “I’m not going to each as much” pales in comparison to “I’m going to do the Keto diet.” When we give our intentions boundaries, we move in the direction of progress.
Today I want you to fill in the blanks for this statement: I am going to intentionally ___________ today by (doing) ____________.
Now, follow through with it!