Have you ever had a light bulb moment? Maybe you were driving in your car and a statement from earlier in the day popped into your head, followed by a moment of clarity.
Maybe you’ve been wrestling with an issue for quite some time, then while brushing your teeth, it hit you.
Maybe your light bulb moments come when you exercise, or drive, or shower.
But I think we can all think of a time when we had a breakthrough in our thinking, a moment of unparalleled clarity. From there, you gained clarity, focus, direction, purpose, and possibly even motivation.
I had one of those moments this weekend. Because of a family situation, I ended up taking Sunday off. Normally, when I am going to miss, I make a point to line out the hurdles and get someone to cover all the bases. This weekend, however, I forgot one thing: the sound board.
I am a bit of a sound board nerd. I always tell kids if I wasn’t on staff at a church, I would serve in the sound booth. A few years ago, we were able to upgrade our sound board at church to a really nice board, and I am constantly amazed at the power and capabilities. There is so much to know, and I haven’t gotten around to training someone else to run it. I haven’t brought myself to ask the 3rd question when it comes to the sound booth.
After realizing my shortfall, I sent a text Sunday morning, and then received one right before the service. There was some shuffling, but they were able to get the board to work without a hiccup.
And now my lightbulb moment: Sometimes it’s okay to let go of something I enjoy in order to bring someone alongside and train them to accomplish the same thing. After all, and this is a common mantra here, what if the someone I ask to help actually enjoys it more than me? What if they, and this is hard to fathom because I’m awesome, can do a better job than me?
The question for each of us comes down to this: as a minister, is it my job to do the work of the ministry, or to equip others to do the work of ministry?
Not a minister? Then, the question for you is similar: as a leader, is it your job to accomplish tasks, or to equip those around you to accomplish tasks?
We are better together. It’s okay to ask someone to help.
Have you ever noticed some people look at situations differently than you?
A few years ago, I heard a radio personality talk about how science has proven women and men look at cleanliness differently. Women actually see dirt more easily than men. It’s not that they have some sort of super vision, but their awareness of filth is higher. This means as a husband, I need to adjust my standards of clean in order to be a blessing to my wife.
This happens in developing student leaders as well. So many times, as youth ministers, we fall into the trap of thinking a student has to meet a certain level of leadership ability in order to take on the mantle. But I would disagree.
In fact, as I have been working with student leaders more intensely over the past 3 years, I have noticed 2 criteria which are critical to developing successful student leaders.
I cannot think of a single situation where anyone has led without first making the most of an opportunity. In fact, without opportunity, nothing happens. Where there is no opportunity, there is no movement.
Opportunities are simple, but it may require you changing how you view situations. The old saying goes “If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” While the intent behind the saying may be negative, the truth is opportunity opens up when we shift our perception.
Every time you meet with students, there is an opportunity for leadership. My question for you is: are you making the most of the opportunities around you to allow students to grow and develop as leaders.
The other part of developing student leaders, and the most critical, is willingness. If a student is not willing to take intentional steps, any effort you exert will be diminished.
A student’s willingness to serve is imperative to their own development. But if you think about it, this concept is a no brainer.
As an adult, if you need to lose weight or cut back on salt, no one else can make that decision for you. It’s a decision you have to make. The people around you can provide opportunities, but it is up to you to make the most of the opportunities.
Students who are willing to serve, are more likely to grow as leaders. Students who are unwilling to serve will hit a ceiling of their own making.
The bottom line is this: if you can find a student who is willing to serve, give them an opportunity to serve and lead, and watch the impact they begin to make!
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Years ago, I remember traveling over a holiday break with my new wife (the same one I have currently). I remember where we were exactly on the road to my hometown as I shared with her my passion about some ministry ideas I had recently discovered. It was a pivotal moment for me in my early ministry, and a topic about which I was extremely passionate.
This week, as we traveled again, our conversation was slightly different. Okay, not slightly. Instead of ministry theories, I was serenaded by my wife and daughters to the soundtrack of Annie. It is a hard knock life, after all, for our family in our fully functioning gas guzzler, but let’s save that thought for another time. We still talked about life and about ministry, but I wouldn’t trade my in-car-musical for the world.
Instead, my challenge to you this week is simple: unwind.
Not every moment this week has to be filled with a discussion about ministry or next steps or leadership development. Enjoy a conversation about sports, or weather, or life, or anything besides your roles and responsibilities this week.
Thanksgiving is only two days away, so mentally prepare yourself to be present with the people around you. Unplug from distractions and pay attention to those around you this week.
Not to get too agricultural on you, but even the best wheat field needs a break from being grazed to recover. The same is true for you and me.
Take a break this week, even if it’s for one day. It’s worth it, trust me.
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A few weeks ago I had the honor of speaking with a group of student leaders. Their leader is someone I respect, and I was grateful for the opportunity in and of itself.
Then, I was blown out of the water. About a week later, I got a handwritten note in the mail. The note immediately went up on my bulletin board as a reminder of being appreciated.
So, this week, let’s talk about writing notes. Here are 3 reasons to hand write a note today and make someone’s life a little brighter:
Snail mail is the new personal touch. Think about it: who doesn’t love getting something in the mail that is not a bill or a credit card offer? I love getting mail that is hand addressed to me because it’s usually someone who took time on me!
I see this with my kids. My girls LOVE getting cards in the mail. One of them even pouts when someone else gets something and she doesn’t. And honestly, I do too!
My handwritten thank you note went on my bulletin board not for people to see when they come in, but because it’s something I love seeing and remembering. I feel valued every time I look at it. I have thank you notes from graduates that will not get thrown away (especially ones with a personal touch), because a handwritten notes communicates value.
A few weeks ago my oldest daughter forgot her lunch. We have a rule that if she forgets her lunch, she has to deal with the consequences, but I decided to make an exception that day. So, I wrote a note, put it in her lunch box, and dropped it off at school for her. A few days later, I put a note in my youngest’s lunch box. I don’t remember a follow up conversation with either.
Last night, however, my wife told me our youngest told her she wants notes in her lunch box, that it was special and made her feel good.
If I can take a few moments to surprise my child with a note, why wouldn’t I do that? At the same time, if you take time today to write a note of some sort, what’s the most you have to lose?
So, there you go. Today’s challenge is to simply hand write a note to someone. Tell them thanks, or that you’re thinking about them, or wishing them luck.
Grab a stamp and make a difference today!
Currently, I’m sitting in an airport terminal in Richmond, Virginia. A combination of mechanical issues, weather, and vacation chaos has culminated in a delayed flight (sitting at 3+ hour delay so far, and that doesn’t count the fact we were at the airport early!).
Some things are out of our control. Weather, mechanical failure, and attitudes of those around us are all outside of our control.
What we do control is the attitude we use to respond.
I do not know if I am at ease because its the end of my vacation (that has been wonderful), or if I just really enjoy flying so waiting a few extra hours in a terminal with my family seems quite bearable. But I decide how I respond.
The same is true for the clerks working the desk here at gate A7. The people who are paid to handle situations when storms move in two places hundreds of miles from each other appear to have the proper attitudes. No one is grateful for the delay, especially not the girl stuck in the terminal store with a sideways screen, but most people seem to be managing the unfortunateness.
So, let me ask you this: how are you handling the unfortunateness in your life? Let’s narrow down a little: how are you handling the unfortunateness in your leadership?
What’s your attitude as your decisions come under scrutiny, or as those you lead start to show signs of unrest?
What’s your attitude when those you lead completely ignore the direction you are trying to move?
What’s your attitude when you face dilemmas you have never faced before?
What’s your attitude as you peer the future directly in the eyes, not sure if you should jump or stand your ground?
Take some time today to put things in perspective. You will face leadership struggles. You will face leadership failures. You will face leadership storms. But the way you respond, that’s up to you.
As for me, here’s hoping I get to board my flight in the next few hours.