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?

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?

Make a Difference

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Leadership can be a tricky reality. Some people are given a title that conveys leadership. Others earn respect and become leaders in their own right.

The focus here at 3 Question Leadership is much simpler, however. Having a title doesn’t pave the way to executing the 3 Questions. You don’t have to be the high man on the totem pole to assess what you can do and who you can get to help.

The bottom line is actually pretty simple: make a positive difference.

I see this in student ministry all the time. There are kids who are incredible leaders, except they lead the wrong way, making a negative difference.

But when a student sees the opportunity to step up, step out, and make a difference in a room, my heart leaps.

One of my personal goals is to influence a room every time I walk in. I know the skills I have, and I’m ready to put them to use whenever possible.

If we were to agree to focus on making a difference every time we walk into a new situation, what could change around us? Our job, undoubtedly, would start to look different. Our homes might begin to transform. The places we frequent (like restaurants, convenience stores, banks, etc.) could start to look different as well.

So, where are you making a difference? How are you impacting the situations you walk into? Is there a change you need to make? Pick one area, start small, and see what happens.

Keeping Vision Out Front

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A few weeks ago I met with my student leadership team. These kids have been walking with me through my 3 Question journey since August of 2016. The 3 Questions shape so much of what we do.

So I was somewhat surprised when I asked them to tell me the 3 Questions, and they struggled to answer.

Then, I had an epiphany: I’ve been blogging about the 3 Questions for the past 10 months, they haven’t.

In other words, the 3 Questions have become part of my¬†everyday processing, but that doesn’t mean they had the same experience. They weren’t sitting down at a computer multiple times each week trying to write a blog related to the 3 Questions.

What’s the leadership lesson? Just because something is inherently important to you, does not guarantee it is inherently important to someone else. You have to keep vision out front.

You know what they say about assume? When we assume, we eventually have to exhume.

Well, nobody says that, but maybe they should. When we assume everyone else focuses on vision the way we do, we will soon find that vision being buried and forgotten.

So, what’s your next step? Ask yourself what you have been assuming everyone knows, but in reality needs to be brought back in front. You will feel like a broken record, but important things are worth repeating.

Don’t think of it as being a broken record; think of it as being a hit single set on repeat.

Confusion Breeds Chaos

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When I was an 8th grader, we didn’t have enough boys in 7th and 8th grade to field a football team, so the school decided to let 6th graders play. This was both good and bad.

It was good because we had enough kids to be able to play football that year, but it was bad because only one of the 6th graders had hit puberty. As a result, we had a historic season, and didn’t win a game.

Towards the end of the season our coach decided to work in a couple trick plays. One play involved some yelling from the sideline that we were using the wrong football, which would result in the center handing the quarterback the football (a legal exchange), the quarterback running toward the sideline as though he were going to trade the football. Just before getting to the coach on the sideline, the quarterback would run up field for what would hopefully be a touchdown and a win.

It didn’t work. The referees said the coach couldn’t yell that from the sideline. But the premise was true: confusion breeds chaos.

If we could get the other team questioning what they knew to be reality, then we could take advantage of the moment and surprise them.

In leadership, the principle applies as well. If the people we lead are unclear as to next steps, or even what we are trying to do, the result is chaos.

As a minister, if the adults who volunteer in my ministry don’t understand the long term goal and vision I set, then we have a team of volunteers who set their own long term goal and vision.

If student leaders don’t understand their role, then they set their own guidelines.

This isn’t master level manipulating. This is learning to sail the ship and getting everyone moving in the same direction.

What part of your leadership is suffering due to confusion? What steps can you take to add some clarity this week?