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.
I’m at camp this week working a group of student leaders. We will be teaching leadership principles, giving them opportunities to lead, and teaching them to evaluate as they go.
So, today’s thought is a short one: find people to pour into. They are all around you. They vary in age. But they are all around you. Find ways to invest in people and to help them grow as a leader.
One way to do this is by spending time and getting to know people around you. Ask questions about what they are experiencing. Find out what they’re struggling with and what they are good at. Take time to slow down and connect this week.
For me, nothing in leadership is quite as invigorating as investing in leaders around me. I hope you find the same to be true.
Sometimes I wonder if everyone operates the same way I do. Today, let’s find out.
When I drive by certain landmarks and have a memory come to mind, it is generally something I was listening to at the time. As a result, I can drive by a windmill and remember the song that was playing, or under a bridge and remember a conversation I was having. Or, on a tractor, drive by a fence post and remember the point of the story I was at in an audiobook. Crazy, right?
But one place in particular is different. There is one spot between where I live and where I grew up that every time I drive by it, I feel like a 7th grader again.
Honestly, I do not know if the memory comes from that long ago or not, but it’s a spot where over time I have assigned a specific feeling: the feeling of awe at finally having arrived–being an athlete. It was undoubtedly one of my first early bus rides, but the emotion remains. Every time I drive by that spot, I feel optimistic, energetic, and old.
I may not know you well, but I’m going to guess you have something like that. It may be a spot where you fell in love. Maybe it is a note you keep in a safe space. It might be bigger, like your old car from high school, or your very first instrument. Or, maybe, it comes with a person. You think about the first person to encourage you to push for something more, or the first person to point something out to you.
Whatever it may be, I want you to think about this: you are not the same person you were in that moment, in that memory.
I am not a 7th grader anymore, though my wife may accuse me of acting like one from time to time. More than that, I had no clue I could ever become the person I am today.
Again, I would venture to say the same is true of you.
We change over time. We mature. We grow. We make mistakes. We get things right, and we grow some more.
Take a moment today and celebrate that you are not who you were in that memory. You are something more, something better, something different. And, if you’re not better than you were then, take a step today to correct that.
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.
Last night at church we read Colossians 4:2 – “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Then, I asked what the people in the room were devoted to.
The answers, naturally, were varied. I had put a qualifier on the question that I didn’t want church answers, that I hoped we were are all devoted to Jesus. From there, the answers given were sports, band, eating, and one spouse (an adult, of course).
This got me thinking about my own life. Of course I am devoted to God first and foremost. After that, I would like to think I’m devoted to my wife and family. From there, however, what comes next.
Devotion is such a strong word. There are some things that I feel like are okay to be devoted to: God, family, work, etc. There are, however, some things I would hesitate to identify as being devoted to, smaller things. Things that I can be interested in, but devotion carries a next level connotation.
That brings me to this blog in and of itself. Honestly, I’m devoted to this blog. Granted, my devotion is not an all out devotion, but here it is Thursday morning and I’m writing yet another post. There’s a definite devotion to the process that has been taking place for the better part of the past 17 months or so.
But really, my devotion is not to this blog. My devotion is to becoming a better leader. My devotion is to help you become a better leader. My devotion is to process the things I am learning each week by writing them out, in the hopes that as I process through different ideas, you’re able to make the journey with me.
So, two thoughts to wrap us up today: First, thank you so very much for joining me on this journey. Thank you for commenting online or in person. Thank you for subscribing in your email (as simple as that sounds). Thank you for sharing on social media when a post speaks to you.
Second, to what are you devoted? Top three aside, are you devoted to growing as a leader? Are you devoted to making those around you better? Are you devoted to leading in a way people want to line up and support you along the way? I’d like to challenge you today to spend some time thinking about your own devotion.
Christ first, always. Family next. Maybe even work after that. But, what about leadership? What about growth? What about joy? To what are you devoting your efforts?