Tag: Developing Students

Is This the Worst Student Leadership Mistake?

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What do you do when you have a student who shows great leadership potential?

Over the course of my ministry experience I’ve had a few students who seem to be a step ahead of their peers when it comes to reading and understanding a room. They have an intuition about them that makes them appear more mature and capable than everyone else.

So, it only makes sense to give them more and more responsibility, right? I mean, we want to develop student leaders. That’s kind of the point of what I write about here at 3QL.

Let me offer one caveat. And it’s one that is still fresh in my mind.

I never want to crush a potential leader’s spirit. I desperately try to avoid adding too much to their burden, but when a student has a high capacity, I find myself wrestling with this.

That’s why I’ve started reminding myself of the following thought.

Give students student leadership opportunities, not adult leadership opportunities.

If you want someone to feel the weight and worry of leadership, give a teenager the load you would expect from an adult. I’m not saying some teenagers cannot handle such responsibility, but they have the rest of their lives to be adults.

Put in the effort to help a student find appropriate levels of challenge for where they are. I want to avoid expecting a 14 year old, who shows incredible capacity for influence, to carry the load I would ask a 34 year old to carry. No one wins in that situation.

Instead, I want to help that 14 year explore leadership in appropriate avenues.

Stretch their thinking? Of course.

Challenge their abilities? Sure.

Help them grow their leadership influence? Absolutely.

But if I ask them to start adulting, they will burn out and I will give up.

So, how are you at this? Are you providing high capacity students with student leadership opportunities?

The Repetition Key

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Practice makes perfect, or so the saying goes.

The past few years I have coached my oldest daughter’s basketball team. Right or wrong, one of the things I made them do was work on shots from the block. I wanted them to be able to make a shot close to the basket using the backboard.

We would have competitions to see who could make more. We would take turns. We would have timed drills, all with the purpose of helping them develop that one shot.

Why? Because you perform how you practice. If you practice making shots from the block, you have a higher likelihood of making shots from the block in a game. The math is simple.

There’s a rhythm to the repetition. Your muscle memory takes over at some point.

For me, in high school, I shot countless shots from “the elbow” of the free throw line. That was almost 20 years ago, but guess what: today, I can make an elbow shot almost without thinking about it. I repeated the process over and over, and it has stuck with me, somewhat.

Leadership is redundant. As we teach students the ins and outs of leadership, we have to embrace the redundancy.

It’s practicing block shots every practice, knowing eventually you can move further away.

It’s asking and answering the 3 questions every week, over and over, and seeing how the answers change.

It’s inviting those around you to join you as you accomplish a task.

Leadership is doing the same thing over and over. Even when you think you cannot do it again, repeating the process. And teaching others to do the same.

Does repetition get old? Sure.

Does repetition get boring? Sometimes.

But is repetition necessary? Absolutely.

As I’m embarking on helping developing a new group of student leaders, I realize the importance of repetition, and easy repetition to start. I’m striving to help them find a rhythm, to find a place to get started. The goal is to help these student leaders see the opportunities for them to make an impact.

What needs repeating in your setting? Are you willing to tackle it?

Flashback Friday #3

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I find it fascinating how much things change over time, yet how much they stay the same. I’m in a season now where today’s flashback is being put through the fire, and I’m growing so much through it. Here’s a glimpse, or you can go ahead and read it here. Enjoy!

There are downsides to thinking about things 90% of the time–you actually only act on what you’re thinking 10%. That leads to plenty of mental development, but very little real life occurrence.

That’s where the principle for today’s post came into my life. I don’t know if you’re wired like me, but I think there is a little truth in what I’m about to say. I’ve made this my new mantra, especially when there’s something I would much rather just think about doing than actually doing.

Are you ready? Here it is: Start Somewhere.

I hope you have a great Friday!

What’s Your Plan?

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Having a plan of attack always helps me. Sure, I can shoot from the hip as well as most people, but there are some things where having a plan is just better.

When I started this blog three years ago, I did not have a solid plan, other than a topic I wanted to tackle. Over time, however, I developed a plan. I may modify the plan, but for the most part, the plan helps.

When I trained for a half marathon, I followed a plan. I didn’t know what I was doing, other than running, but my plan put me on the right path to accomplish the goal.

Developing Student Leaders is very similar. When I look back over the past 10+ of developing student leaders, I may have swung blindly early on, but as time passed, I was able to develop a plan that moved me in a direction. Yes, that plan has been (and will continue to be) modified, but it’s a plan nonetheless.

Think of it like this: if I want a student to grow in their leadership influence, then I need to know what steps I want them to take. Those steps may be simple, or they may be a little more complex. But they are steps, regardless.

So, as I’m starting a leadership team in my current context, what’s my plan? Pretty simple: raising awareness, willingness, and leadership (sound familiar?), and prayer. I want students to start looking for opportunities to influence a room. And it helps to have a goal.

What’s your plan? What are you striving for? What steps are you helping students (or the people you lead) take to grow their leadership influence? Is there something you need to change? Is there something you need to ramp up? What are you waiting for?

Taking the Leadership Leap

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I don’t write about the three questions regularly these days, but that doesn’t mean they don’t impact me. After all, this blog is named after them.

Just a quick refresher, the three questions are:

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

Every person sees these differently, and each person hesitates on a different one. Some people have a hard time naturally seeing what needs to be done, whereas others have a somewhat intrinsic ability to see a need.

Some people find it difficult to find the motivation to do a task, or view tasks as beneath them. The reality, however, is if we want to lead, we have to be willing to do something. The best leaders rarely lead without getting their hands dirty.

Others wrestle with asking people to help. It’s just easier (and more efficient) to do it ourselves. Which is true. But it’s poor leadership. Eventually leaders who never share the load will be crushed by it.

The third question, however, morphs into an exponent when utilized correctly. The math is simple: if I can accomplish three tasks, three tasks get done. If I can invite someone to help me, and they can accomplish three tasks in addition to my three tasks, six tasks are completed. If each of us, asking the third question, invite someone else to join us, the number jumps to twelve. Best of all, I’m able to focus on the three tasks best suited to my gifts and abilities.

So, why is it so difficult to answer the 3rd question?

Pride. I can do a better job.

Insecurity. What if they can do it better than me.

Superhero mentality. If it’s going to get done, I have to be the one to do it.

Control. It has to be done my way.

Leadership is risky. That’s what makes it so challenging, but that’s also what makes it so rewarding.

So, what task or responsibility are you clutching today? Who around you is starving for an opportunity to help, and you won’t let them. Who is waiting for an invitation to unlock their potential? What are you waiting for?

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