Leadership and Yard Work

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Yesterday was a milestone for me as a father. I have a busy week this week, so I took some time yesterday morning to mow my yard. This time around, however, was different. I had a helper.

My 10 year old, earlier this summer, went through Papa and Mimi Lawnmower training. So, naturally, as I prepared to mow yesterday, I recruited her to help. She was scared to try a bigger mower, so I had her edge until I got to one spot we agreed would be her spot.

Now, having grown up on the farm, I remember how this works on tractors. My dad would make the first round, then put me on the tractor to finish the rest. So I did the same.

I made the first round and it was ready for Anna. So, I called her over, had her sit down on the mower, and gave her the orientation. Throttle. Mower blades. Forward. Reverse. Brake. She was ready.

I stepped back and was ready to gloat at my incredible lawn mowing daughter. Then she took off. The first 5 seconds were magical, then I realized she couldn’t see where I had gone the first time.

She turned way too early. Skipped a mower width away from my initial cut, and consistently turned short, leaving skips on the ends.

Strangely enough, at this point I was not upset or angered. I only chuckled to myself and called her over. I pointed out where she missed, gave her some tips, and sent her on her way again, still watching.

Can you guess what happened next? She still made mistakes. So, I called her over and showed her a trick that I learned decades ago, and let her go at it again.

The leadership principle here? When we let someone do something new, we have to remember they don’t have the experience or judgment we have at the moment. Actually, we would do well to remind ourselves of the mistakes we made when we first started.

But, if you want to expand your leadership influence, you are going to have to fight the battle between “I can do better myself” and “I do not have time to do this.”

My daughter is years away from being a professional yard care expert, but this summer she has had a great start.

Everyone has to start somewhere. The question becomes, are we going to give them their start or not?

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?

Have Difficult Conversations

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This past weekend I was reminded of a principle I blogged about early on. (Click here if you want to read my original post on this topic.)

As leaders we all have to make unpopular decisions. We know they’re unpopular when we make them, so the result is the temptation to avoid conversations surrounding them.

Or, maybe you have had to correct someone. You dread the meeting, so you find reasons to put it off.

These conversations are the dentist office visit of leadership. We know we should go to the dentist, but we just do not want to. Have you had situations that can relate to this idea?

Or, maybe you make a decision that is in the best interest of your organization, but you worry some people are going to give push back, so you try to find a way to minimize their reaction.

In seminary I took a class on Crisis Preaching. One of the principles we were taught was to “name the monster” when a terrible situation arose. The idea is everyone in the room, or almost everyone, knows what you are hinting at when you hint at something, so why not just come out and say it to make sure everyone is able to move forward?

Having tough conversations is the same thing. I’m not advocating seeking drama, but I am advocating talking openly so as to minimize fallout. When we address what needs to be addressed, we allow healing to become part of the process.

What situation are you currently in that could benefit from having a tough conversation? Have you made the statement recently “I really don’t want to talk to…”? If so, that’s probably a sign that you need to have the conversation.

Don’t hide from tough conversations. Don’t send a text when a phone call is what is needed. Be a leader and have the conversation no one else wants to have.

My Calling is Not Your Calling

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I still remember where we were as my pastor and I talked about the difference between us as ministers and people in the church. It was not us bashing church members, but wrestling with the reality that we are more committed to the ministry of the church than most people, and the tension that creates.

Last week I talked about the difference between a calling and a job. Click here if you haven’t read it yet.

Today, let’s talk about the leadership principle that grows out of finding your calling: just because it’s your calling does not mean it is someone else’s calling.

I fancy myself a thinker. I think I inherited/learned it from my dad. If I have spare moments, I am likely thinking about ministry. Ministry is my calling. At almost any point in time, I can start a discussion about ministry.

The reality is, however, the people I lead do not think about ministry the way I do. They volunteer to serve. They care, and show they care by showing up. But if their calling lies somewhere else, they generally are not spending extra time dreaming up next steps for ministry.

The challenge for us as leaders is to help people find their sweet spot. When we can find a way to pair someone’s passion with a ministry opportunity, everyone wins.

If I ever decide to expect the same commitment and dedication from a volunteer as I have, there is almost always conflict. Because my calling is not their calling, and thankfully, their calling is not my calling.

Are you holding people to expectations you hold for yourself? Are you expecting those you lead to be as invested emotionally as you are? If the people you lead are volunteers, I invite you to reevaluate your expectations today. Have some conversations to discover callings, and then set your expectations accordingly.

Here’s to New Adventures

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Here’s to new adventures.

Our summer schedule starts in 10 days. By June 1, I will be halfway finished with our church trips for the summer of 2018.

Over the next 2 1/2 months, I will help lead a trip with kids to a place I’ve never been even to visit, I will experiment with a concept in a new environment (different from the one it developed in), and I will send both my daughters to camp for the first time.

It’s going to be a crazy 12 weeks, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

What new adventures are you taking this summer? What steps are you taking to step out in leadership? How are you going to challenge yourself to grow this summer?