Embrace Your Strength

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How well do you know yourself? What settings do you find yourself naturally gravitating toward and thriving as a result?

I work better in a collaborative setting. When I have the opportunity to work with a group of people, my creativity goes through the roof.

For example, last year I worked with an intern. The greatest benefit was having someone with whom I could talk through decisions and ideas. When left to myself, I bog down in possibilities and options.

What about you? How do you thrive? Do you find yourself being rejuvenated by working alone? Or maybe you feel like working in a group helps you present your best?

If you have never considered this before, take just a minute and think about the last month. How many times have you tried to get together with a group of people? How many gatherings have you avoided? When did you feel energized?

Some people do better by themselves, where others thrive in community. Neither is right or wrong, unless you’re going against your wiring.

Once you have evaluated and decided how best you work, embrace it. Because I do better in group settings, I have built group times into my schedule. I have two to three groups I meet with on a regular basis, whether it be lunch, catching up, or coffee. Our time together may not always be about ministry or leadership, but I regularly grow as a result. My schedule reflects my leanings.

If you do better alone, find time to get away. Let your calendar reflect your strengths. Schedule in times to get creative.

One final word, balance is important. I may lean towards working better in a group, but I still have to find time to work alone. You may work better alone, but you cannot hide from group work completely.

Know your strength. Play to your strength. Embrace your strength. But do not neglect your weakness. Find the balance.

The Undercurrent of the 3 Questions

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If you have been with me from the beginning, or even for the past few months, you have likely read about the foundation for 3QL. If not, please check it out by clicking here.

The short version is a few years ago I stumbled onto three questions I have since been teaching student leaders. I hope to train and equip student leaders (and adults, too) to change their mindset when encountering different situations.

Here’s why: I believe we, as leaders, can influence the direction of an organization (or a situation) by being intentional. The influence may not provide immediate results, resulting in a painstakingly slow process, but it can be done.

Let’s think about this another way: when I become part of something, I want it to get better. How do I help make it better? By increasing my awareness (what needs to be done), my willingness (what can I do), and my leadership (who can I get to help).

One of my main goals is to raise up a generation of leaders who get involved, stay involved, and when they leave, leave things better because they were there. In student ministry, the results seem simple enough to measure. In the real world, however, things are usually trickier.

But the question has to start with me: am I making the things around me better? Am I equipping and training other people to accomplish what I’m accomplishing? Am I hogging responsibilities and thus preventing someone else from doing something they love? Am I setting my church (and not just the student ministry) up to win because of my time spent serving?

The goal of leadership is to make the world a better place because of our having been in it. What are you doing to equip those around you to be influencers and not participators? What steps can you take this week to help others grow their influence?

Books that Altered My Path

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I have recently experienced a renewed interest in reading. Now, I am not reading through an inordinate number of books, but I am trying to stretch my mind by reading.

But today I thought I would share one of the books that has had the largest and most enduring impact on my ministry. I remember reading this around 2008, and the concepts are still shaping the way I preach today. So, here it is: Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley.

This is a book on preaching. Sounds riveting, right? Actually, it turns into a pretty quick read. The book itself is divided into two parts. The first part is a story that seeks to introduce the concept of the second part, which is the nuts and bolts of the approach.

You can search for in depth reviews of the book, but for the purpose of this post, I am going to share two things that have shaped my ministry as a result of reading it.

First, I don’t have to teach every idea in a passage in one message. Andy tells a story in the book about he and his wife visiting a church and on the way home saying “That was a good series in one sermon.” Sometimes, as communicators, we can overwhelm our audience with too much information. It is okay to take our time and unpack concepts over weeks.

The second lasting impact from this book is to develop a simple, portable, and memorable statement. The statement should be emphasized throughout the message, should be relevant, and should be simple. A few statements I have developed over the years are: God loves you and desires a relationship with you; Worship is the way you live your life; Words reveal intent. Actions reveal heart; and You can’t see the end from the middle.

Bottom line: this book is worth your time, especially if you teach/preach/communicate on a regular basis. I keep extra copies in my office anytime I find it on sale. If you haven’t read it before, click below and buy it today!


Incoherent Ramblings

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I’ve never actually spent any time explaining my categories, so let’s change that.

One of my favorite categories developed last year as I had an intern. As we began the process, I wanted to make sure I was not just assigning her some work to do, but instead was taking time to share with her things I have learned over the years.

So, in order to accomplish that goal, I started making a list of different lessons and tips I have picked up and developed. We carved out time each week to sit down and I would share my “Incoherent Ramblings”.

The topics ranged anywhere from lessons learned in ministry (Don’t let someone’s character surprise you and Don’t hide from hard conversations) to more practical tips (like this one from last week on fundraising). But, there was a nice consistency to the meeting time.

Here on the blog, so much of what I write about falls into the Incoherent Rambling territory. I don’t have to say that I have yet to figure everything out, but I do love learning along the way.

So, today, what would be on your list of incoherent ramblings? What are some tips and tricks you have picked up along the way, the things you think need to be communicated and passed on to the next generation? Have you started a list?

Leave a comment and let me know what you would include!

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.