Leadership Journey

Communicate Expectations

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I’m on a trip this week with my church. Over the years, during and after trips I realize key details that need to be fixed. This year, I realized something early in the trip: I am the only adult who has seen a schedule.

Our trip is one we have developed, so I wrote out my own schedule. Because I’m the only person who knows the schedule, I’m the only one who knows when we need to leave or stay, or what comes next.

This is okay, as long as I am okay with no one sticking to my schedule. And how could they know the schedule, if I haven’t shown them?

The leadership principle here is simple: communicate expectations.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I have great adult volunteers who do an incredible job of loving kids and forgiving my mistakes.

But over the years I’ve learned that if I am going to expect someone to do something, I have to find a way to communicate my expectations.

This goes for kids when we go on a trip, for adults as we work to point teenagers to Christ, and even when I’ve occasionally coached basketball teams. Everyone wins when you are able to communicate what is expected.

 

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Big Picture, Check it Out

Check It Out – Rows vs. Round Tables

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A few summers ago I took a group of student leaders to a conference in the metroplex. While there, instead of sitting in rows, we sat around tables. We came home and within a few months we made the switch in our youth room to round tables.

The discussion, warmth, and intentionality we have seen from the use of tables has been fascinating. Today, many of the kids in the youth ministry here don’t know anything but sitting at round tables on a Wednesday night.

I found this article very interesting and thought provoking. We do not have the ability in our sanctuary to pull this off, but I am intrigued nevertheless. I do not know if round tables are the final answer, but for our youth ministry, they have made a noticeable difference in engagement and relationship.

Here’s a short clip:

Sunday church services had become just another spectator event. Attendees came, sat, stared, spoke to no one, and went home. It wasn’t a community of believers. It was just another passive audience of disconnected strangers.

But then somebody rearranged the furniture. And things started to change.

Click here to read Breaking out of Sunday Spectator Status at the Holy Soup Blog.

 

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Incoherent Ramblings, Leadership Journey

Learning to Trust

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My youngest daughter broke her leg in January. She spent 5 weeks in a cast. Now she has the cast off, and for the last two weeks she has been retraining her leg muscles, and her brain, to walk the right way.

More than the physical training, though, it’s been interesting to watch as she redevelops trust in her leg. For all of her life, or as long as she could remember, her leg worked the way it was supposed to work. If she walked, it held her up. If she ran, it helped. But then, one day, she jumped and her leg did not do what it was supposed to do–it broke.

Right after the cast came off, she was scared to put her foot on the ground, undoubtedly remembering the terrible pain of the break. Slowly she began to realize her leg was going to work. It’s been slow, but everyday there’s a little more progress.

Trust in relationships works the same way. Many of us have friendships where we can trust the other person, until that trust is broken. Once trust is broken, the recovery takes time.

Some of us have experienced enough broken trust to be wary of trusting anyone, and so the healing takes even longer.

As a leader, one of our roles is establishing and maintaining trust. Because we are human, and because we work with other human, sometimes that trust will be broken. When that happens, make an effort to rebuild the trust, understanding it will take time.

 

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Incoherent Ramblings

Be Careful Who Speaks into Your Life

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For the record, one of the regular parts of what I’m going to try to write about are little lessons I’ve learned along the way.

This semester I have the fortune of having an intern, and every week we sit down for what I call “incoherent ramblings”. Often these are going to be more about things I’ve learned along the way instead of current lessons I’m learning.

Today, our incoherent rambling centers on the people who speak into our life.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. – Proverbs 27:6

When I was in Seminary, we had a guest lecturer come into a class and share the following advice: Every minister needs three people in their life. First, they need a Paul–someone to mentor them. Second, they need a Timothy–someone they mentor. Last, they need a Barnabas–someone walking alongside and encouraging them.

While that advice has proven true, and would undoubtedly provide a great subject for a blog post, I have learned over the years we need to be selective about who we let speak into our lives.

Surround yourself with people who never challenge you to grow, or who never see something in you which you cannot see,  and you will never improve.

Surround yourself with people who are incapable of understanding your situation, and the advice they give will never help.

Surround yourself with people who only see negatives and wrongs, and you will begin to see things through their perspective.

Surround yourself with people who have an agenda, and you will simply become a means to an end.

There is another option. As we learn to guard who speaks into our lives, something begins to happen: we are able to realize when someone is using us for position or authority. We begin to see when someone is looking out for themselves, and not for us. We begin to understand there may be more motivation behind an action than we realized.

But, when we surround ourselves with the right people who speak the right things into our lives, the difference is clear.

Surround yourself with people who care about you growing into the best minster/leader/parent you can be, and you will begin to grow.

Surround yourself with people who fix their eyes on Christ and not on the problems surrounding you, and you will begin to do the same.

Surround yourself with people who have a heart for serving, and you will begin to have a heart for serving.

I have men and women in my life who make a greater impact than they will ever know. They encourage me, they correct me, they guide me, and they even tell me things I do not want to hear, but I know their words can be trusted.

Learn to be selective about who gets to speak into your life.

 

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Incoherent Ramblings

Don’t Hide from Hard Conversations

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Have you ever had a meeting scheduled that you dreaded all day? Maybe it’s a yearly review, a potentially explosive situation, or a conversation you are fully expecting to go south. Over the years, I have learned the difficult lesson to not run away from difficult conversations.

A few years ago terrible situation arose at Penn State University that cost many people their jobs, and left a disastrous effect on several young boys. Through such a terrible situation, we learn an important lesson with implications for both youth ministry and the church as a whole. (more…)

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