I had a conversation with a student last night. It’s slowly becoming one of my favorite leadership conversations to have with teenagers.
There are some changes in the future (I’ll post more about that in a few weeks), but this student runs the computer on Wednesday nights at church. He loves running the computer at church, and I can identify with him.
We currently have a 2 person rotation on running computer at church, and every week when I see him his first question is always “can I run computer tonight?” When I have to say I’m going to ask the other one first, he is always disappointed.
So, last night, we had a little talk. I told him I love his enthusiasm (and can identify with it, we are kindred spirits), but I had a challenge for him: teach someone else what you know.
I told him if he could learn to teach someone else to do it, and subsequently not take over for them, he would become incredibly valuable.
The reality of the moment was I was having the discussion with him about what I wanted him to do while pointing out the very thing I had done with him. I taught him how to run the computer, and let him do it. Now, if he could do the same, maybe he could find someone who loves the sound booth as much as he does.
This is the challenge we all face in leadership. One of the most challenging things we face is letting go. That’s where the 3 questions come in. For some of us, we need a reminder to ask the 3rd question. We need a reminder that until we allow others to move forward we are not leading, we are simply working.
Who do you need to teach something today? Who do you need to ask for help? I’m not saying you fully surrender anything, but maybe you can find someone today who will find their passion because you asked for them to help. And if you can do that, everyone wins.
Do you remember being a child and watching clouds, trying to imagine what shape they’re making?
“Ooh, there’s a lion.”
“Whoa, look at the mountain!”
“Hey, that looks like a centaur attacking a cat.”
As a parent, I thoroughly enjoy hearing my girls talk about what a cloud looks like, and then listening as the other one tries to find it. The truth is, just because one daughter thinks it looks like an animal, the other one can think it looks like food, and neither can be wrong.
The difference is perspective. Each girl looks at the same thing and see something different.
The same is true in leadership, and especially in developing student leaders. Perspective makes all the difference. There are teenagers I watch grow and develop and see one thing, while someone else sees something different. One person’s frustration is another person’s compassion.
When we set out to develop student leaders, we have to understand something from the get go: every student has the potential to lead. Let me say that again.
Every student has the potential to lead.
The challenge for us, though, is viewing a student with the right perspective. Some students are natural up front leaders. Their peers naturally look to them, respond to them, and follow them. But what about the student in the background? Are they chopped liver?
My compassion point is not for the up front personality, but for the behind the scenes student. If I can find a student who loves to serve, but does not desire credit for serving, then my heart starts pumping. I know if I can teach that student not only to serve, but to find someone like them and train them to do the same thing, a movement will start.
Now, my compassion for the behind the scenes student does not mean I neglect the up front natural leader. I develop both, but approach each with a different perspective.
Today, what perspective shift do you need in your life? If you’re a youth leader, what is your natural compassion point? How does that influence your actions? What change can you make today?
Okay, so you are a leader. You are probably even good at some (if not most) of the stuff you do. But have you ever considered your ability to do more is actually a hindrance to those around you? Leaders fail when they fail to ask for help.
Think about it. The more you accomplish, the less the people around you are able to accomplish.
Granted, we are approaching today’s topic from a different perspective, possibly even a counter-intuitive place. But if we are going to buy into the 3 questions to help us grow as a leader then we have to admit a few things.
Here are 3 reasons why you should ask the people around you to help:
The more I teach and talk to other leaders about the three questions, the more I realize the biggest impediment to impact is failing to empower those around you to serve. If you want to see your leadership impact grow exponentially, learn how to ask people to help.
I fancy myself a runner. Well, at least I used to be. I’ve never been fast, but a few years back I trained for a half marathon, and found I really enjoy a nice run. I’m back in it now, but it’s been a slow process.
More than the training, however, I’m part of a group of people who run and share our run stats with each other. This is not a group where we brag about how fast we are, but we all encourage one another to keep up the good work.
And that encouragement means the world.
I’m also part of what I facetiously call a “brain trust” with two fellow ministers. We get together periodically for coffee and to talk about ministry. Our primary goal is to provide each other with a safe outlet for processing situations, and to sharpen one another.
The bottom line is this: we need people who will encourage us and help us become better.
We all need accountability and encouragement. This is especially true in leadership.
Something I have noticed, though, is not everyone leans toward surrounding themselves with a group like these. I don’t think it’s a introvert/extrovert thing, because I am an introvert who values a group meeting. And I don’t think it’s a time in ministry thing, either.
I think some people are wired to ask for advice and help, and others are not. The reality, however, is the challenges we face will be significantly more manageable when we have done the hard work of creating a network of people who will encourage, correct, advocate, and brainstorm with us.
Who gives you advice and perspective? Who gives you genuine affirmation? Who wants you to become a better leader? Give those people access to your life and watch the difference.
Bronte ISD (in the community where I serve), held commencement services on May 18, 2018. As usual, that marked the end of school and beginning of summer.
Pending unknown and unforeseen circumstances, this will be the first week since graduation I have not packed a suitcase. Not every trip has been a church trip, however.
When I planned my summer I knew it was going to be busy with church activities. One thing I did not plan, however, was the way our family trips would fill in the other weeks.
Thinking back over the past few months, our family schedule has been a little crazier than normal. So, knowing that, as we went into summer, we wanted to be able to have some intense quality time with our girls (who have had a busy summer as well!).
Navigating pace is a challenge, and something I do not have figured out fully. One thing I do know, however, is we have had to be intentional with our family time this summer.
Here’s our leadership principle for today: when the pace speeds up, find ways to slow down.
For some people, that means saying no at the front. Other people can find the times to slow down in the midst of the chaos. The days we are home this summer, we get done what needs to get done and hit the brakes hard, enjoying a different speed for a moment.
Slowing down for you may mean unplugging from your phone. Or maybe finding time to pursue a hobby (I built a stool last Friday). Maybe it’s getting caught up in a good book, or journaling. It may mean some great family time watching a movie or taking a mini-trip of some sort.
If you want to survive in leadership, and in life, do not let yourself become a victim of the pace you set. Find ways to slow down when you need to slow down, and see what rest can do.