The Tension of the 3rd Question

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Last week I went to camp. One of my roles at camp was to teach leadership to a group of 12 students. What I did not anticipate, however, was the leadership challenge I was going to face in the process.

The kids were great. They were willing to step up and serve, they had humble spirits that were willing to learn, and they poured back into their own groups to make a difference.

The challenge was on my end. I had two roles while at camp: leadership and sound booth. There were certain times in the schedule where the two overlapped, and so I was faced with the tension of the 3rd question: both things need to happen, but I cannot accomplish both at the same time.

(Side note: If you do not know the 3 Questions, click here to read about them. The 3rd question asks “Who can I get to help?”)

The tension of the 3rd question boils down to this: asking other people to help actually helps us accomplish more. Revolutionary, right? Maybe not. In fact, this concept is completely logical. It makes perfect sense that the more people we ask to do something, the more we can get done.

The tension, then, comes when we as leaders would rather do something on our own for any number of reasons. Maybe there’s a certain level of glory in being in charge of something, or we enjoy accomplishing the task. But at the end of the day, if we want to lead, we have to answer the 3rd question.

So, today, what are you holding onto that you can let go? What is on your plate that overwhelms you, but you are afraid to ask for help? What can you ask someone to help with in order to create some forward momentum? Answer the third question this week and see what happens.

 

Why I Love Leadership Trip

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I’m in the process of wrapping up our 5th annual Student Leadership trip. Here are three things I absolutely love about our leadership trip.

  1. The Variety – We have talked to three different people already, with one left. Each person has presented unique information. In fact, in the 5 years of doing our trip this way, I have never had speakers overlap in what they talk about. On top of that, the topics they share often are things I never would have considered sharing or covering.
  2. The Relationships – The biggest benefit of this trip is the time together. This year we had a smaller group make the trip, so our time together has been able to be much more intentional. Our discussions have gone deeper, and the things I have brought up along the way have sparked great conversations.
  3. The Intentionality – We have been able to be very intentional and pointed in some of our discussions. Being away from home, on a trip designed for leadership, we have had the perfect opportunity to address some things that needed addressing.

I am so grateful for the people who have shared and who are going to share with my kids on this trip. I am looking forward to seeing how these students grow as leaders as a result over the next year.

If you are a youth pastor, I would encourage you to consider making a trip like this (click here to read more). Whether you have a formal Student Leadership Team or not, it has been worth the effort on my end, without a doubt.

Communicating Expectations

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You know, for someone who has written 150+ blog posts about leadership, you might think I would learn some of my own stuff along the way.

Last week we took a trip, and one of the biggest tensions on the trip was the realization that I had not clearly communicated expectations.

Years ago, I realized that trips would go smoother if I were able to communicate what I expect from students on a trip, so I typed up a sheet with about 15 bullet points. Most of them were simple (work hard, respect adults, Christ first, etc.). Each trip I pass those expectations out, and we go over them. It’s been a solid approach for a number of years.

Then, last week, I realized something I had left off the list. In fact, it was something I have never considered as part of the communicating expectations part of any trip. The result: pain and anguish.

I would get frustrated and respond to situations poorly because I was frustrated, but because I wanted to show grace, I would relax my guideline. So, basically what was happening was the kids on the trip never knew what to expect. How was I going to react? They couldn’t predict, so they coped in their own way.

The tag line on this site is “helping expand your leadership influence.” If I could challenge you to do one thing, aside from asking the 3 Questions, I would implore you to learn to clearly and specifically communicate expectations.

Leadership does not happen in a vacuum. When I blog, I am not speaking only about self-leadership. Leadership happens when we create movement in a group of people toward a common goal. Leadership happens when we lead others to accomplish something.

But, if the people you are leading do not know what to expect, they will either live in a state of second guessing and fear, or they will go off the rails doing what they want.

Learn to effectively communicate expectations, whether it be behaviorally, situationally, results, or interactions. When you make it clear what you expect, the number of people who line up to follow you will continue to grow.

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.

Calling vs Job

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A few years ago I took a break from full time ministry. During that time, I worked on my dad’s farm and served part time at a church. This week I have been reflecting on one of the conversations I had with my dad toward the end of my time farming.

My wife and I were wrestling with returning to full time ministry. We thought it was maybe time to send our resume out and see what happened.

I remember pulling up to the barn, turning the key off, and sitting in the pickup for the conversation that followed. As I talked with my dad about the transition, he told me “I can tell your heart isn’t in farming. When I was your age I spent spare moments dreaming what I could do to make the farm more successful. You don’t do that.”

My dad wasn’t belittling me, but he was pointing out something he saw in me: Farming wasn’t my calling. Ministry was my calling.

He was right. I didn’t spend my spare moments thinking about the farm. On the contrary, I spent my spare moments thinking about church. Farming was what I did for almost 3 years so I could serve part time at a church. Farming was where my paycheck came from. It was how I provided for my family.

So, what’s the difference between calling and a job? When we find our calling (ministry, farming, teaching, etc.), we are able to throw ourselves into it. We do what we do out of love for the opportunity, because we couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

When we have a job, we leave work and start thinking of something else. That something else is likely your calling, and it’s not limited to ministers and farmers.

I have a friend who over the past few years has worked in the oil field, then as an aviation mechanic. Just recently, however, he seems to have found his calling. Last summer, he finished police academy and has been serving as a police officer ever since. He loves it. He knew his calling for years after finishing the military, and finally got the opportunity to pursue it, and I couldn’t be happier for him.

What’s your calling? Is your current occupation your calling? Or, are you working a job until you can pursue your calling? This isn’t an easy answer, but my hope for you is that you will find the joy of fulfilling your calling.