The Tension of the 3rd Question

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Last week I went to camp. One of my roles at camp was to teach leadership to a group of 12 students. What I did not anticipate, however, was the leadership challenge I was going to face in the process.

The kids were great. They were willing to step up and serve, they had humble spirits that were willing to learn, and they poured back into their own groups to make a difference.

The challenge was on my end. I had two roles while at camp: leadership and sound booth. There were certain times in the schedule where the two overlapped, and so I was faced with the tension of the 3rd question: both things need to happen, but I cannot accomplish both at the same time.

(Side note: If you do not know the 3 Questions, click here to read about them. The 3rd question asks “Who can I get to help?”)

The tension of the 3rd question boils down to this: asking other people to help actually helps us accomplish more. Revolutionary, right? Maybe not. In fact, this concept is completely logical. It makes perfect sense that the more people we ask to do something, the more we can get done.

The tension, then, comes when we as leaders would rather do something on our own for any number of reasons. Maybe there’s a certain level of glory in being in charge of something, or we enjoy accomplishing the task. But at the end of the day, if we want to lead, we have to answer the 3rd question.

So, today, what are you holding onto that you can let go? What is on your plate that overwhelms you, but you are afraid to ask for help? What can you ask someone to help with in order to create some forward momentum? Answer the third question this week and see what happens.

 

The Power of Devotion

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Last night at church we read Colossians 4:2 – “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Then, I asked what the people in the room were devoted to.

The answers, naturally, were varied. I had put a qualifier on the question that I didn’t want church answers, that I hoped we were are all devoted to Jesus. From there, the answers given were sports, band, eating, and one spouse (an adult, of course).

This got me thinking about my own life. Of course I am devoted to God first and foremost. After that, I would like to think I’m devoted to my wife and family. From there, however, what comes next.

Devotion is such a strong word. There are some things that I feel like are okay to be devoted to: God, family, work, etc. There are, however, some things I would hesitate to identify as being devoted to, smaller things. Things that I can be interested in, but devotion carries a next level connotation.

That brings me to this blog in and of itself. Honestly, I’m devoted to this blog. Granted, my devotion is not an all out devotion, but here it is Thursday morning and I’m writing yet another post. There’s a definite devotion to the process that has been taking place for the better part of the past 17 months or so.

But really, my devotion is not to this blog. My devotion is to becoming a better leader. My devotion is to help you become a better leader. My devotion is to process the things I am learning each week by writing them out, in the hopes that as I process through different ideas, you’re able to make the journey with me.

So, two thoughts to wrap us up today: First, thank you so very much for joining me on this journey. Thank you for commenting online or in person. Thank you for subscribing in your email (as simple as that sounds). Thank you for sharing on social media when a post speaks to you.

Second, to what are you devoted? Top three aside, are you devoted to growing as a leader? Are you devoted to making those around you better? Are you devoted to leading in a way people want to line up and support you along the way? I’d like to challenge you today to spend some time thinking about your own devotion.

Christ first, always. Family next. Maybe even work after that. But, what about leadership? What about growth? What about joy? To what are you devoting your efforts?

Why I Love Leadership Trip

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I’m in the process of wrapping up our 5th annual Student Leadership trip. Here are three things I absolutely love about our leadership trip.

  1. The Variety – We have talked to three different people already, with one left. Each person has presented unique information. In fact, in the 5 years of doing our trip this way, I have never had speakers overlap in what they talk about. On top of that, the topics they share often are things I never would have considered sharing or covering.
  2. The Relationships – The biggest benefit of this trip is the time together. This year we had a smaller group make the trip, so our time together has been able to be much more intentional. Our discussions have gone deeper, and the things I have brought up along the way have sparked great conversations.
  3. The Intentionality – We have been able to be very intentional and pointed in some of our discussions. Being away from home, on a trip designed for leadership, we have had the perfect opportunity to address some things that needed addressing.

I am so grateful for the people who have shared and who are going to share with my kids on this trip. I am looking forward to seeing how these students grow as leaders as a result over the next year.

If you are a youth pastor, I would encourage you to consider making a trip like this (click here to read more). Whether you have a formal Student Leadership Team or not, it has been worth the effort on my end, without a doubt.

Communicating Expectations

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You know, for someone who has written 150+ blog posts about leadership, you might think I would learn some of my own stuff along the way.

Last week we took a trip, and one of the biggest tensions on the trip was the realization that I had not clearly communicated expectations.

Years ago, I realized that trips would go smoother if I were able to communicate what I expect from students on a trip, so I typed up a sheet with about 15 bullet points. Most of them were simple (work hard, respect adults, Christ first, etc.). Each trip I pass those expectations out, and we go over them. It’s been a solid approach for a number of years.

Then, last week, I realized something I had left off the list. In fact, it was something I have never considered as part of the communicating expectations part of any trip. The result: pain and anguish.

I would get frustrated and respond to situations poorly because I was frustrated, but because I wanted to show grace, I would relax my guideline. So, basically what was happening was the kids on the trip never knew what to expect. How was I going to react? They couldn’t predict, so they coped in their own way.

The tag line on this site is “helping expand your leadership influence.” If I could challenge you to do one thing, aside from asking the 3 Questions, I would implore you to learn to clearly and specifically communicate expectations.

Leadership does not happen in a vacuum. When I blog, I am not speaking only about self-leadership. Leadership happens when we create movement in a group of people toward a common goal. Leadership happens when we lead others to accomplish something.

But, if the people you are leading do not know what to expect, they will either live in a state of second guessing and fear, or they will go off the rails doing what they want.

Learn to effectively communicate expectations, whether it be behaviorally, situationally, results, or interactions. When you make it clear what you expect, the number of people who line up to follow you will continue to grow.

Where We Are With 3 Questions

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About 2 years ago I stumbled onto what I consider a pretty simple concept. It actually happened on a Sunday I took off, and was the result of evaluating a story I heard. Kind of crazy how things like that happen.

The bottom line is this: about 2 years ago, the 3 questions were born. This entire blog revolves around these three question, so click here to read a more in-depth explanation. But, as a refresher, the 3 questions are:

  1. What needs to be done?
  2. What can I do?
  3. Who can I get to help?

Today, I thought I would share where I am with these three questions. I have spent the last two years teaching these questions to my student leadership team, taking time after each mid-week program to evaluate how they did at answering the 3 questions. One of the key things I learned this year was the redundancy of asking the 3 questions.

Growing up I ate the same thing for breakfast about 90% of the time. My dad would make a batch of waffles at one time, and I would eat waffles every morning. There’s a rhythm in eating the same thing every day.

There’s also a rhythm in answering the 3 questions. It takes discipline, focus, and a desire to make a difference.

For working with teenagers (and I’m guessing the same would be true for adults), the challenge is finding a way to keep the  3 questions fresh. After all, not everyone wants waffles everyday for breakfast.

So, this summer, on our leadership trip, I plan to sit down with a couple kids and re-evaluate how to implement the 3 questions. Even this is the 3 questions in use (what needs to be done-evaluation, what can I do-evaluate, who can I get to help-student leaders who have put the questions into practice.)

The bottom line is this: when I ask myself (and answer) the 3 questions, my leadership grows. It may not be flashy. It may not be exciting. But I see results. The 3 questions lead to leadership results. But everyone’s context is different.

There’s not much application today other than to say: learn to ask and answer the 3 questions. Your context may be different than mine, but I still believe whole heartedly you can expand your leadership influence when you regularly invite people to help you accomplish what needs to be done.