We’ve all been there–the frustration of leading. You pour hours into a project or event or relationship, only to experience sub-par results. Or you have to make a decision in the moment, only to realize later you made the wrong choice. Anyone who has been in a leadership role can identify.
Today, we continue looking at a few mistakes we make in leadership, that even though they feel like a colossal failure in the moment, they are actually not mistakes. (You can read the first post by clicking here.)
Human relationships are hard. There are nuances that vary wildly from relationship to relationship. There are often unexpressed expectations that go unmet. And more often than we would like, those relationships do not end the way we wish they would.
Part of our role as a leader is to invest in relationships. In ministry, we invest in people in whom we see potential or promise. So we spend time getting to know them, encouraging them, leading them, trying to help them grow. And occasionally, we watch our investment dwindle away as they begin making poor choices and slipping away.
At the end of the day, when those relationships have slipped away, we feel like we wasted our time, but I would argue it was not a waste of time. We cannot control people. Everyone has free will. But any time we learn to invest in someone, we are providing the opportunity for them to better themselves. Any time we spend investing in people is time well spent.
The real mistake in relationships, however, is not building them at all. If we find ourselves deciding beforehand a student (or anyone in general) will not benefit from the investment of our time, we play a dangerous game.
One final note, beware of trying to relationally invest in a disinterested person. I have built relationships with students early on, only to have them distance themselves later. Find the balance between mourning the relationship (and trying to mend it) and obsessing about the lost relationship. Remain emotionally available, but realize the energy you may be spending trying to rebuild could be spent elsewhere.
People are surprising. You cannot know their hearts until you get to know them, and vice versa. Spend time investing in relationships this week, and be not discouraged.
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I got to spend the first part of my week at the Texas Baptist Youth Ministry Conclave in Arlington this week. For years I have always gone with the intent of connecting with friends and picking some insight up along the way.
This year, I was reminded why I enjoy connecting with other ministers.
I worked the booth for Horizon Camps and Resources, so I was able to interact with a variety of people. We gave away YooHoo (the official camp drink of Horizon Camps), but the better part was being able to reconnect with friends I have developed along the way.
One minister, in particular, I engage several times each year, but Tuesday I realized how much we had in common, and I was grateful for an opportunity to process some things together.
Today’s lesson is a simple one, but it’s this: connect with other leaders. If you are able to network regularly, keep it up! If you are one of the people who naturally engage with others, embrace that.
But, if you’re like me, I intentionally force myself to connect. Not because I think I am better, but because connections do not come easily for me.
Who are two leaders with whom you identify and respect? What would it take to call them up and invite them to coffee, or to do a video call if the distance is too great?
The truth is we pursue what is important to us. If growth is important, you will pursue it. If connection is important, you will pursue it. If relationship is important, you will pursue it. But, if your priorities are somewhere else, you will avoid the others out of necessity.
Make connecting with other leaders an intentional part of you life and priorities, and see what happens next.
Today’s post is going to be ministry specific, but it plays a role in leadership as well.
When I think back to the influential ministers in my life, very few of them became influencers because they stood at the front of the room.
There was my youth pastor who would stay after Wednesday service for an hour or more talking with me and a friend or two about all sorts of random things, until my parents called the church to see if I was okay.
There was the pastor who saw something in me and started spending time with me each week, helping me grow in my faith.
There was my coach/youth pastor who would put in extra time with me on the basketball court, giving me tips for improving my jump shot or baby hook.
Ultimately each of those people spent that time with me away from their “stage”. As a result, when they stood on the stage (or at the front of the room), their words carried so much more weight. They cared about me, and I knew it.
The same is true for us in leadership, especially in ministry. We have to be willing to spend time investing in individuals. When we do, the words we say from the stage carry more weight.
But there’s more to it than just being able to influence someone. Investment makes a difference.
When we invest in someone, we experience compassion for what they’re going through in life. Learn how to ask questions about what is going on in their life, and take a genuine interest.
When we invest in someone, we experience frustration because people are flawed (newsflash–you’re flawed too, and that may be where your frustration comes from).
When we invest in someone, we experience hope. As we get to know someone, we get a peek into what they could become, and then as a leader we get to help them realize that potential!
The bottom line is this: in leadership, never lose sight of the one. Foster relationships that provide a greater opportunity for impact and watch what happens next!
How old were you when you got your first job? How old were/are/will your children when they got their first job? Is there a difference?
I think most people my age grew up watching the Cosby show, so when I saw this article talking about one of the characters and what he’s up to now, I was intrigued.
Tim Elmore starts his article like this:
I’m not sure if you caught it, but actor Geoffrey Owens recently appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” after an incident that took place in New York. You might remember Owens as the actor known for his comedic role as Elvin Tibideaux on The Cosby Show, between 1985 and 1992.
Now, if you’re familiar with Elmore, you know he works extensively with teenagers, so his take takes a practical twist for those of us in student ministry. If you have time, I’d strongly urge you to click over and read the article. Also, if you have a soft spot for Elvin, check it out too.
“Regardless of what you were told at Richmond, your delay was weather related and therefore we will not hand out hotel vouchers, but even if we were going to do so, we have exhausted our vouchers for today.”
What a great announcement to hear over the speaker at 2am.
After waiting in the Richmond terminal for almost 7 hours (click here for more on that), our flight finally left. We arrived at DFW expecting to get some relief, only to hear the announcement, and so the adventure began.
To say our return home from vacation was a memorable experience is an understatement. We ended up renting the only vehicle available at any of the rental counters that were open at 3am–a 12 passenger van. The movie Home Alone flashed through my head at one point, thinking of John Candy and his polka band riding in the back of a moving van. We were not far away from that, minus the accordion.
Honestly, I do not know what to add about leadership from my experience Monday night/Tuesday morning, other than to say your attitude makes the difference. I am very grateful my wife and daughters (and myself) were able to roll with the punches on everything that went wrong without getting angry. Remaining calm disarmed what could have been a very explosive situation.
So, mind your response. How you respond in the moment will determine how you handle the situation. Remain calm and navigate the choppy waters, regardless of how big the waves may seem.