Leadership Journey

Leaders Step Up

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Leadership in itself can be a stick situation. The temptation is to always think someone else is going to step up, but a strong leader is able to realize when the situation calls for someone to step up who wouldn’t normally be expected to do so.

Think of it like this: when i was a freshman in high school, i was one of the oldest kids in the ministry. As a result, my attitude toward how old a teenager has to be to lead has been altered.

The temptation in youth ministry is to wait until a student is a junior or a senior to give them leadership responsibilities, because they’re older and more mature by that time. And that makes sense.

For me, however, I want a kid who is willing to step up and make a difference, regardless of age. Sometimes this means we have 8th graders on our leadership team, other times it means we have mostly high school.

Part of my role, as a leader who seeks to develop other leaders, leads me to encourage younger students to step up to a role they may not think they fit.

The same idea applies to you: you are going to be presented with opportunities to step into a position for which you may not think you are ready. Too often, however, leadership opportunities arise because we are willing, not because we are ready.

Are you willing to step up? What situation are you facing that feels like you’re on the edge of a cliff trying to build the courage to jump? What’s holding you back? What fear do you need to give up? Why have you not given your fear up yet?

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Leadership Journey

You Aren’t the Mission

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A few weeks ago I was talking to a mentor who reads one book every two weeks. He mentioned something about having started a book several time but never getting into it, and I got curious. “Why not just move on to the next one” I asked. His answer? He said he was a little OCD about reading books.

As I pondered his response, I realized s omething about myself: I am a little ADD when it comes to reading books. I have probably 20 books I have started the past two years, but very few finished books (7 for the year, just short of my January goal of 24).

But occasionally, I find a book I really enjoy. Recently, it’s been Carey Nieuwhof’s new book: Didn’t See It Coming. As I was pushing myself yesterday to finish the book so I could put it on my list, I came across this quote:

“You aren’t the mission. Your job is to point people to the mission–a mission worth spending a major chunk of their lives working toward.” – Carey Nieuwhof, Didn’t See It Coming

As my leadership influence grows, I have faced a temptation to confuse the mission. I am not the mission. I point people to the mission. And as a Christian, the mission undoubtedly deserves my life.

My goal in raising up students who understand servant leadership is not so they will go off and talk about how great I am (which most of them certainly won’t), but that they will go off and serve God through servant leadership.

My goal in equipping and empowering adult volunteers is not so they will follow me, but so they will embrace servant leadership and make an impact in the lives of students around them.

I am not the mission. My success is not the mission. And the same is true for you.

Take some time today, either a quick moment or an elongated moment, and re-center yourself. Ask yourself: what is my mission? Have I taken the focus off what it should be, or am I still focusing on what I should?

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Check it Out, Incoherent Ramblings

Remembering 9/11

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I was a senior in high school, dating my eventual wife. I remember getting to school and hearing how the first plane struck the tower. Then, as we walked into second period, I remember my English teacher talking with us about it and saying it had to have been an accident, there’s no way it could have been done on purpose.

As the day unfolded, we found out she was wrong.

I had no frame of reference to handle the information. Nothing like that had happened in my life before. It is still surreal to think about.

My generation has 9/11. My parents have JFK’s assassination. I have no wise reflections today, only a somber spirit.

So, let’s do this, if you’re reading this, comment and tell me what you remember about September 11, 2001. Where were you when you heard the news? What was your first reaction? What do you remember from the days that followed?

Also, for a fascinating read about Air Force One in the eight hours following the attacks, click here. But not until you comment below!

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Leadership Journey

Learn to Audible

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I have a generally pessimistic attitude about rain. Please do not misunderstand me: I love rain, but I distrust forecasts. I have a nagging suspicion that if you ever look at a weather app, there is a perpetual chance of rain next week. Always next week. It rarely moves to the next day. Until this week.

Occasionally, my paranoia is wrong. (Feel free to tweet that.)

This week our kids ministry was planning to kickoff the semester with a night at the park. I invited myself (and the youth) to join them and to help with time together. Last week our children’s minister told me there were chances of rain all week, but I wrote it off as the perpetual rain chance. Then, I awoke yesterday to a steady rain.

The adjustment was pretty simple. Instead of meeting at the park, we were going to meet at the church and roll with it there, but there was still some work to make up.

In leadership, there is always a chance of rain. Something will usually go wrong, and the question is how will you respond?

Are you so tied to your schedule and plans that any alteration upsets the very core of your being?

Or maybe you’re so relaxed about plans that changing at the last minute does not worry you because you would not have done any planning before then anyway.

I would urge you to find the middle ground. Find the value in proper planning with a loose grip. Put forth the effort you need, but be willing to make adjustments at the last moment.

A similar situation happened at camp this summer. We were seeing remarkably hot temperatures, so we had a discussion before the final rec time. We had done the planning ahead of time, but felt it was time to call an audible, so we moved our rec time inside. All of the dominoes lined up, and our audible was a win all around.

Sometimes leadership requires flexibility. Scratch that. Leadership always requires flexibility. Learn to call an audible when the time comes. You’ll lead better because of it.

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3 Questions

The Power of the 3 Questions

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A couple weeks ago we were on the back end of our youth room remodel, and our deadline (Wednesday night) was approaching fast.  I was spending the majority of my time that week trying to rearrange, clean up, and reassemble the room. I had both of my daughters with me to help, but that was not working the way I hoped.

Then, a light bulb came on. As my oldest daughter was asking what she needed to do next, I did something I have not done yet: I asked her to answer the first 2 questions (Click here for the explanation of the 3 questions). I helped her as she looked around the room to see what needed to be done, and then helped her see what she could do.

Now, I have said before that I do not sit my daughters down and make them listen to me lecture on the 3 Questions, but earlier this summer I did let my oldest sit in one of my talks on them. She was excited about the idea of it, so our conversation in the youth room was not out of place.

What happened next was great. We were able to accomplish more because she was not interrupting me every time she finished a task. She was learning to trust herself and ask the questions, and I was encouraging her along the way.

The 3 Questions are simple. Some people take to them naturally. Others, it takes a little more effort, but it can happen. The key is in the repetition, the redundancy.

If you are trying to learn to ask the 3 questions personally, hang in there. It takes time, but it can make all the difference in the world.

If you are trying to teach the 3 questions, stick with it. When someone embraces the possibilities, the results are amazing. It will take time, but push through and see what happens.

I’m cheering for you and your leadership today.

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