Every time I sit down to write, my hope is that as you read this you start nodding your head in agreement, thinking to yourself, “This is really good stuff.” I would even take a, “hmmm…that’s interesting.” And I would be thrilled with an audible “A-ha!”
Well, on Tuesday, I had one of those reactions to the post below. I have linked to some Carey Nieuwhof blog posts before, and if you’re not connected with him through his blog or podcast, you really should check him out.
But, a few days ago, he posted a blog titled “How to Stack Your Leadership Pipeline With The Best Volunteers and Team Members.” If you are a leader, specifically a church leader, and even more specifically a Youth Ministry leader, you need to check it out.
Towards the beginning of the post he talks about the two kind of team members: leaders and doers. Here’s a clip:
Leaders gladly rise to a challenge and can take others with them.
Doers, on the other hand, prefer to do what you tell them and little more.
Effective organizations build teams of leaders, not just teams of doers.Carey Nieuwhof
Following that, he sets out five steps to tell the difference from the recruiting stage, and it’s worth the click over to read it.
Think of your favorite vehicle. Not your dream vehicle, but out of the vehicles you’ve owned, what has been your favorite?
For me, it was a GMC Yukon. It had after market rims, but that wasn’t what I loved about it. You want to know what I loved? Heated seats and an automatic start. It was my first vehicle with both.
I loved driving that Yukon. My youngest was still an infant, and that car was a dream, except for the mileage.
Every vehicle since then has been compared to that Yukon, and probably from here on out (until I find a new favorite), every new-ish vehicle I get will get compared to it.
The same is true in leadership. We compare what we see to what we have seen.
The comparison of the present to the past is not negative, unless we let it become that way. The past, when remembered fondly, grows more legendary with every positive remembrance.
When my wife and I first got married we were broke college students who could barely afford to eat out, and only if that eating out was 49 cent tacos at Taco Bell. We were broke. But guess what, I look back on that time with great love. But I would never go back to it.
Our memory will naturally elevate the glory of things we remember fondly. The opposite is true, as well. Negative memories, when left unresolved, will grow more negative, as well.
Back to leadership. In our personal lives, we compare what we see to what we have seen. This could be positive or negative, depending on our approach.
As with most things, I advocate for awareness. When I realize I have a bias toward the present based on the past, then I am more likely to take what I see for what it is, not for what it has been previously.
Put another way, just because something went poorly in the past, doesn’t mean the ending is the same this time, although sometimes it is.
Just because something worked in the past, doesn’t mean it’s the best way of accomplishing something, although sometimes it is.
Just because someone betrayed you in the past, doesn’t mean a new someone will treat you the same way, although sometimes it does.
Allow the past to inform the present, not dictate it. Learn from your experiences, but don’t allow them to handcuff you.
And understand the people you lead are searching for the same balance along the way. Help them navigate the present and the past, and watch your leadership influence grow.
The genesis of my blogging adventure began with a simple concept: sharing three questions I started teaching students leaders to ask and answer in an attempt to expand their leadership influence.
If you’re new to 3QL, I would encourage you to go check out the Foundation to see a short summary of the namesake for this endeavor. Go ahead, this post will wait for you.
The abbreviated version boils down to this: When you walk into a room (or encounter a situation in general), ask yourself…
Lately I’ve been reflecting on the simplicity of the questions. Asking and answering the questions opens doors we could never imagine, but the three questions are also counter intuitive.
One of the easiest lies to buy into is that leadership belongs to those at the front (of the line, of the organization, of the room). But we all have seen the impact someone can have on a room from a seat that’s not the front.
So leadership is not limited to the front. John Maxwell’s second law of leadership is “The Law of Influence: The True Measure of Leadership is Influence – Nothing More, Nothing Less.” When we grow our influence, we grow our leadership.
The same is true in Youth Ministry (and life in general). When we teach students (or anyone) to ask and answer the three questions, what we are doing is preparing them to make an impact where they are.
If you’re reading this today, let me issue a challenge. A student doesn’t have to pay dues before having influence. Granted, there are benefits to life experience, but the gamble we take in Youth Ministry is waiting too long to provide leadership opportunities.
Don’t wait. Develop leaders regardless of their age. You never know what may happen. Pour into your older students, but also be willing to pour into and invest in your younger students as well. When you build a balance, you’ll be amazed at the difference you’ll begin to notice.
And if you’re not sure where to start, get a group of students with hearts of a servant, teach them the three questions, and ask them how they answered the questions. You’ll be amazed at what begins to happen.
I’m not as young as I used to be. Isn’t that the motto of every adult?
Sunday night I played pickup basketball for the first time in a while (I don’t remember the last time I played, honestly). And guess what? I was tired and sore afterwards.
I live a decently active lifestyle. I exercise daily, can get out and run a mile or two at a comfortable pace without walk breaks, but I’m pretty convinced there’s nothing that can physically prep you for basketball sore.
In reality, any type of exercise targets a unique collection of muscles. Running requires a different combination than cycling. Cycling requires a different combination than rowing or HIIT. Seems obvious, right?
Leadership is the same way. If you want to grow in your leadership influence (and I’m hoping that’s why you’re here), then you have to exercise your influence muscles.
Put another way: if you want to become a better leader, you have to practice leading.
This concept was very difficult for me as a 19 year old. I wanted to serve in a ministry role, but the reality was my experience in actually leading was very limited. I didn’t see it at the time, but I do now.
The good news is while we are waiting to lead in the way we’ve always dreamed of leading, we get to practice leading in the way we need to lead in the moment. And while we practice leading now, we may just realize the way we’ve always dreamed of leading isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, or even how we’ve been called to lead.
Today, you’re faced with a decision. Are you going to take the necessary steps to lead? Very few people experience long term leadership success by accident–it’s a conscious decision. What situation facing you needs attention? What conversation needs to take place? Who needs an opportunity to step up? Who needs an opportunity to step down? What relationship needs strengthening today?
Are you willing to take the necessary steps today to exercise your leadership muscles in an effort to be a better leader tomorrow? I hope you are, and I’m glad we’re walking this adventure together!
Have you ever noticed you never realize how messy your house is until someone is coming to visit?
Or, how after you drive by the same thing day after day, you start to ignore it? Except for stop lights. We always pay attention to stop lights.
What about the decorations around you? Unless you’ve done a recent remodel, I doubt you’d be able to tell me what order pictures and paintings are in on your wall.
Time and repetition play a funny trick on us. Over time, the more we see something, the more likely we become blind to it.
This is true in leadership as well. When we lead in similar situations for a continued amount of time, we have to fight becoming blind to key things around us–strained relationships, organizational complexity, insider language, etc.
This may be simple, but for me it’s messes. I get accustomed to a mess until I have a special guest, then I realize there are books and papers all over the place. Then, I find myself racing to make things look presentable.
For you, it’s likely something else. Maybe you’re forgetting about a relationship that’s been strained for too long. Or you are using insider language that makes new people feel left out and unwelcome.
In leadership, maybe you’re focusing too much on recruiting new people and neglecting the care of the ones you have already. Think of someone who has been serving with you for a while who would greatly benefit from some personal attention and go the extra mile with them.
What do you have in your life that has become “old hat” so much that you do not even recognize it anymore? What steps do you need to take to make the appropriate adjustments and give the necessary attention? Take those steps today!