Changing Environments

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I have a very bad habit of driving somewhere, putting my vehicle in park, and sitting in the vehicle for a while before I get out. Sometimes, I do this because I’m listening to sports radio and want to hear the end of the thought being expressed, or maybe I’m just moving slow that day. But occasionally, I hesitate because I don’t want to trade one climate for the other.

If it is bitterly cold outside, then the warmth of my vehicle is too appealing.

If it is raining, I dread stepping out into the rain. (This one doesn’t happen very often as we rarely get rain.)

If the heat outside is blistering, then the allure of the A/C can be too much.

In leadership, we have to be careful about developing a similar habit.

We may find ourselves waiting outside a meeting where we know the atmosphere will be chilled by attitudes.

Or maybe we hesitate to call an important meeting because we fear what may take place.

Or we put off having a tough conversation out of fear the conversation will go to a dangerous place.

Understand this: if you are in a position of leadership, find the balance between looking for problems to blow up and hiding from situations that scare you. You do not have to become a bulldog that tears into every conflict with glee, but you also cannot afford to be a turtle who hides in your shell at the first sign of unpleasantness.

As a leader, someone has placed trust in you to lead, so make the most of that trust.

Over the years, I have found that when I hesitate to do something, my hesitation is a key indicator the something needs to be done. I seldom worry and put off things that do not matter. Is that true for you? What are your own signs of the need for something to be done?

Teaching Student Leaders

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Last weekend, I had the privilege of hosting a Student Leadership Workshop. We had three churches come together, with a total of 21 students, and we spent a good part of the day equipping students to become better leaders.

To close the workshop, I borrowed a Habitude from Tim Elmore (click here to read about him). I asked students if they were a thermostat or thermometer.

Thermometers take the temperature of the room and reflect it. They do not control how hot or cold something is, but instead passively reveal the current state.

Thermostats set the temperature of the room. They determine how hot or cold a room is at the moment, and what it will be in the future.

My dream for student leaders is that they realize they have the potential to become a thermostat and set the temperature of the room through their actions, their behaviors, and their interactions with other people.

I love watching student leaders step up and lead. Few things compare with watching teenagers begin to realize they’re not too young to make a difference.

In my own life, I personally would like to become more of a thermostat than a thermometer. What about you?

It’s Okay to Hope

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Have you ever set a New Year’s Resolution?

Have you ever chosen not to set a New Year’s Resolution?

Have you ever claimed “My New Year’s Resolution is to not have any New Year’s Resolutions”?

A few years ago, I felt guilty for ever getting excited and setting some goals for the new year. It seemed every conversation covering resolutions took on a significantly negative tone. And I bought into it.

Then, I read a blog where someone said they always looked forward to the new year and the hope that it brings.

So, today, I want to take a stab at doing that for you. You may find yourself having given up hope for 2018 based on 2017 as a whole, or in part. Well, it is not too late to change your approach. It is okay to hope.

What if 2018 becomes the year you do something great? What if 2018 becomes the year you accomplish that goal you’ve never seemed to achieve before? What if you have matured as a person to the point where the mistakes you made in your younger days will no longer provide as much resistance as you remember?

Let yourself, for just a moment, find hope and refreshing in the changing of the calendar, even if we are a few days behind.

Pick one thing you’d like to accomplish this year and write it in a place where it will serve as a reminder for you. Stick with it. Keep it in front of you. Pursue it. Achieve it.

Who knows, maybe 2018 will be the best year yet for both of us. I look forward to taking this journey with you.

Leadership Isn’t Always Flashy

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I think it is safe to say everyone has a situation in their life where they would enjoy being the leader. Is that a generic enough statement to start today?

What I mean is this: everyone has a desire to lead, something.

But the reality is leading is often the hardest thing you can do in a situation. One of the most consistent struggles I see in student leaders (and in my own ministry) is the constant battle to find ways to leverage leadership influence.

I’ve written about the redundancy of leadership before, and this is similar to the feeling of redundancy. Being a leader who makes a difference is a choice we make when we walk into a room or encounter a situation.

The 3 questions actually establish a different foundation for leadership. Instead of starting from a position of top-down authority, the 3 questions look for ways to exert influence with simple actions.

Effective leadership, whether it be top down or simply exerting influence, maximizes impact when pursued on purpose. In other words, part of being a leader requires conscious effort. Everyone can lead a little without thinking about it, but the best leaders work on their craft.

So, what are you doing to work on your leadership? Read books that help you become a better leader. Surround yourself with people who make you stronger. Strive to become a person of positive influence. Find blogs or online articles that challenge your processes.

It may not be flashy, but find ways to grow as a leader. Put in the effort and work, and you’ll see the benefit.

When It Clicks

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Developing student leaders is a slow process. It takes time, patience, repetition, and lots of reminders. But, when a student gets “it”, very little compares.

Over the past year I’ve had several discussions with one of our students, giving her permission to take ownership of running the computer on a Wednesday night. That doesn’t mean she’s the only one who runs the computer (we have a team for that), but it does mean if she’s sees a problem or deficiency, she can take the necessary action.

Last night, during worship, one of the songs did not get put up on the screen. The kid running the computer was having a hard time and couldn’t find the song. I knew this student leader was in the room, and pushed forward leading worship. As I did so, I saw her walk back to the sound booth, help the other kid find the song, and got us back on track.

She saw a need (the kid running computer needed help) and met it.

My goal in developing student leaders is not to have a private group. Instead, my goal in developing student leaders is to see students step up, take initiative, and make a difference (big or small). When it clicks, it’s amazing.

What conversations are you having with students giving them permission to step up and meet needs that they see?

Some students more naturally see the needs, where others need help with the beginning.

Some students need permission to step up, whereas others may need to be reigned in.

Some students need a conversation giving them ownership, where others get it from the beginning.

The same is true for adults.

What steps do you need to take with those you are leading to give them permission and ownership? What’s holding you back?