Tag: 3QL

Powerful Leadership

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To say I’m in a new season of personal leadership development would be an understatement.

I stumbled onto the three questions almost by accident, but at my last church was able to establish a culture of leadership and service that fit really well with the mindset of the three questions.

But, ironically, I’m really weak at answering the third question.

If you haven’t already, or even in a while, click here to read about the three questions. But, as a reminder, they are:

  1. What needs to be done (awareness)
  2. What can I do (willingness)
  3. Who can I get to help (leadership)

I’ve written about this before, but a great tension exists when you feel competent and capable of accomplishing something but want to empower people around you. I find the tension is even greater when it’s something I thoroughly enjoy doing.

I am constantly amazed, however, at how something I may be able to do competently, someone else can do excellently. So, when push comes to shove, if I’m not asking people around me to help, I’m saying that I’m satisfied with mediocrity. Unfortunately, more times than I would care to admit, I am.

Back to personal leadership development. I find myself living in the tension of what is and what could be. Mediocrity or excellence. But the excellence comes at a price–my ego. If I’m not willing to ask the third question, then my leadership stalls.

True leadership is not about elevating ourselves. True leadership is about equipping those we lead to elevate above us. I want to equip people (students and adults, in my context) to excel at what they do, even if it’s something I enjoy doing. I’m not here to run a one man show, although that seems to be what my actions often communicate.

The same is true for you. There are people around you who are ready to step up and serve, but you have to put forth the effort of inviting them to the table, of building the relationship to know what they’re willing to do, and of asking them to help. Don’t settle for mediocrity. Do the difficult work of equipping those around you to elevate above you, and watch your leadership influence increase.

That’s What We Do

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Monday night I attended a band concert for my oldest daughter. As I was sitting in a chair watching her band-mates leave in droves and wondering where she was, I realized what was happening through a conversation we had a week earlier.

“We show up early and stay late. That’s what we do.”

My sweet, servant minded pre-teen (I can’t help but think there’s going to be a slight “interruption” sooner rather than later) has been raised by parents who show up early and stay late. It’s been ingrained in her, unnaturally, because she’s been drug to events early and kept late for years.

Now, this isn’t intended to be a dad-brag. Instead, it’s a study of leadership osmosis. I find one of the ways I serve most effectively is by showing up early and staying late, and in spite of me never actually coming out and teaching my child this mindset, she learned it by virtue of being dragged to places.

So how do we teach students who don’t live under our roof the same mindset? By including them. Give them opportunities. Recognize when they see the bigger picture, and celebrate it. Invite them again. Help them see the need and help them see they can meet the need.

One method I use to help teenagers see the subtle shift is the three questions. If a student can begin to ask themselves “What’s the bigger picture? What needs to be done?”, then we begin to take steps to moving them into a realm of leveraging influence.

But it has to start somewhere. Let me say that again. It has to start somewhere. We have to have conversations with them to help them see the opportunity.

What are you doing to develop leaders around you? How are you developing them? What steps are you willing to take to develop them? What changes do you need to make?

Red Pill or Blue Pill?

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Have you ever seen The Matrix? You know, the Keanu Reeves movies from the late 90s and early 2000s where the world as we know it is all a computer program.

Over the course of the movie Neo (Reeves) discovers he’s been living a lie. Everything he thinks is real is only a computer generated illusion. Through a course of actions he “wakes up” in the real world–a place significantly more hopeless and destitute.

After “waking up”, Neo hacks back into the Matrix for some training. His clothes have changed, his hair has changed, even the ports that were present on his body are no longer there. This is called, if I remember correctly, his residual self image. It’s what he thinks he looks like, or what he chooses to look like.

We all have a similar problem. We have a residual self image we want others to see and believe about us. You have one. I have one.

As we seek to recognize leadership potential in students (or even adults), part of our task is to look past the residual self image a student projects, and discern what lies beneath.

It’s not cool to be a servant leader, but when you see that glimpse of humility, bells should be going off.

For me, those bells are a wonderful thing. I love seeing the potential in a student and learning to navigate the waters of what is currently and what could be in the future.

Are you looking past the residual self image of those around you? Are you starting to notice the potential? Do you know how to start developing that potential? (Click here to read the approach I take.)

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The Simplicity of 3QL

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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…

  1. What needs to be done? (Awareness)
  2. What can I do? (Willingness)
  3. Who can I get to help? (Leadership)

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.

Learning to Ask for Help

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I had a conversation with a student last night. It’s slowly becoming one of my favorite leadership conversations to have with teenagers.

There are some changes in the future (I’ll post more about that in a few weeks), but this student runs the computer on Wednesday nights at church. He loves running the computer at church, and I can identify with him.

We currently have a 2 person rotation on running computer at church, and every week when I see him his first question is always “can I run computer tonight?” When I have to say I’m going to ask the other one first, he is always disappointed.

So, last night, we had a little talk. I told him I love his enthusiasm (and can identify with it, we are kindred spirits), but I had a challenge for him: teach someone else what you know.

I told him if he could learn to teach someone else to do it, and subsequently not take over for them, he would become incredibly valuable.

The reality of the moment was I was having the discussion with him about what I wanted him to do while pointing out the very thing I had done with him. I taught him how to run the computer, and let him do it. Now, if he could do the same, maybe he could find someone who loves the sound booth as much as he does.

This is the challenge we all face in leadership. One of the most challenging things we face is letting go. That’s where the 3 questions come in. For some of us, we need a reminder to ask the 3rd question. We need a reminder that until we allow others to move forward we are not leading, we are simply working.

Who do you need to teach something today? Who do you need to ask for help? I’m not saying you fully surrender anything, but maybe you can find someone today who will find their passion because you asked for them to help. And if you can do that, everyone wins.

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