I’m continuing Lessons from the Farm today. If you’d like to read some of the other posts, here are a few of them: Keep Going, Know When to Stop, Same Destination Different Paths, Work Until the Job is Done, and Don’t Leave Cattle on the Truck.
Today, let’s talk about blizzards. Not the Dairy Queen treat, but the weather phenomenon.
In 2009, my wife and I moved back to my hometown so I could start working on the farm again. We knew it was for a season, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
When I got back, I found my dad’s operation was different than when I graduated high school and moved away. He had moved more to a cattle operation than a crop based operation.
In December of 2009 we got a few truck loads of cattle, and the weather got cold. January 2010 was one of the wettest ones I remember, but it was also extremely cold for our area. That meant the wheat (the main source of food for our cattle) went dormant earlier, which meant we had to find ways to supplement what the cattle were eating.
That’s where my job started. Every day (emphasis on every), I woke up, drove to the barn, and started the process of feeding cattle a mixture of grain and molasses, that I mixed fresh that day. It was a very hipster process–fresh ingredients, fresh preparation, every day.
I’ll never forget mixing grain and auguring it into the feed bin on the pickup while snow was blowing sideways across my face. It was a very unique (and cold) experience.
Here’s the leadership principle: our success (cattle gaining weight and selling for more money) did not allow for a blizzard break. The cattle needed to be fed every day, regardless of weather, and regardless of whether I felt like fighting the weather.
Success for you in business, in ministry, in farming, will not wait because of the storms you’re facing. I’m not advocating being a workaholic, or spending so much time doing your job that you lose your identity. What I am advocating, however, is acknowledging the times when you don’t feel like doing something are precisely the times you need to do something.
I didn’t want to feed cattle in a blizzard. Actually, feeding them was easy. I didn’t want to do the work to prep the grain in a blizzard.
Sometimes, dealing with teenagers can be challenging. Sometimes, dealing with church people can be difficult. Sometimes, dealing with anyone can be difficult. But the moment I don’t want to do those things is exactly the moment I realize I need to do something the most.
Get out there today, fight the blizzard so you can do what needs to be done. Lead well today.
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Yesterday, as I was talking to my Pastor, I realized I had been making the wrong announcement this past month. Well, maybe not the wrong announcement, but taking the wrong approach.
We have a community outreach opportunity this weekend, and one of the key elements for pulling it off is having church members fill eggs with candy. But, as we talked yesterday, I realized we could have been encouraging our members to fill eggs AND invite people from our community. Simple enough, right?
Part of leadership is realizing and admitting you make mistakes. Some mistakes, like failing to emphasize the inviting nature of an outreach event, are relatively minor, something we might consider to be simply missed opportunities. Other mistakes carry consequences, like hesitating to schedule an event and losing the opportunity to make it the best possible as a result.
So, today, how do we overcome mistakes or missed opportunities? Here are 3 things I have learned over the years.
The bottom line is this: you will make mistakes. Everyone does. You will miss opportunities. Everyone does. But what you do on the back side is what will set you apart as a leader.
Grow in your leadership today. Learn from your mistakes and missed opportunities.
In group settings, I usually tend to be a listener first.
I remember taking a senior level class in college with about 12 people. Somewhere around 7 weeks into the class I was talking in the hallway with someone else in the class and mentioned a concept we talked about. They paused and said “I forgot you were even in the class with us.”
What I am about to say does not come from an extrovert or someone who owns a room when they walk into it.
You can make a difference in any room you enter. Really, you can.
Not only can you make a difference, you need to develop a mindset that says “I will make a difference.”
I am not suggesting arrogance and conceit. Nor am I advocating being the center of attention. But, if we seriously intend to grow as leaders, if we genuinely want to expand our leadership influence, it starts with believing we can help.
Help. Influence. Impact. Whatever word you choose, the bottom line is the same: you have something to offer. But what is it? What do you bring to the table? What can you do better than anyone else around you?
I have a mentor who has a knack for finding people with leadership potential and giving them a platform to experiment. I know another friend who has an ability to connect with people and in turn connect people with people.
Influence happens not when we decide to have influence, but when we decide to make the most of what we have.
Leadership happens not when we decide to exhibit leadership, but when we decide to make the most of what we have.
I may be a listener first, but I aim to be able to understand a situation and provide new views and new ways to examine what is happening. So not only do I listen, but I process at the same time.
As I seek to answer the 3 questions, I have to believe that I can help. You can help, too. Find a way to lead today.
I have recently experienced a renewed interest in reading. Now, I am not reading through an inordinate number of books, but I am trying to stretch my mind by reading.
But today I thought I would share one of the books that has had the largest and most enduring impact on my ministry. I remember reading this around 2008, and the concepts are still shaping the way I preach today. So, here it is: Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley.
This is a book on preaching. Sounds riveting, right? Actually, it turns into a pretty quick read. The book itself is divided into two parts. The first part is a story that seeks to introduce the concept of the second part, which is the nuts and bolts of the approach.
You can search for in depth reviews of the book, but for the purpose of this post, I am going to share two things that have shaped my ministry as a result of reading it.
First, I don’t have to teach every idea in a passage in one message. Andy tells a story in the book about he and his wife visiting a church and on the way home saying “That was a good series in one sermon.” Sometimes, as communicators, we can overwhelm our audience with too much information. It is okay to take our time and unpack concepts over weeks.
The second lasting impact from this book is to develop a simple, portable, and memorable statement. The statement should be emphasized throughout the message, should be relevant, and should be simple. A few statements I have developed over the years are: God loves you and desires a relationship with you; Worship is the way you live your life; Words reveal intent. Actions reveal heart; and You can’t see the end from the middle.
Bottom line: this book is worth your time, especially if you teach/preach/communicate on a regular basis. I keep extra copies in my office anytime I find it on sale. If you haven’t read it before, click below and buy it today!
I’ve never actually spent any time explaining my categories, so let’s change that.
One of my favorite categories developed last year as I had an intern. As we began the process, I wanted to make sure I was not just assigning her some work to do, but instead was taking time to share with her things I have learned over the years.
So, in order to accomplish that goal, I started making a list of different lessons and tips I have picked up and developed. We carved out time each week to sit down and I would share my “Incoherent Ramblings”.
The topics ranged anywhere from lessons learned in ministry (Don’t let someone’s character surprise you and Don’t hide from hard conversations) to more practical tips (like this one from last week on fundraising). But, there was a nice consistency to the meeting time.
Here on the blog, so much of what I write about falls into the Incoherent Rambling territory. I don’t have to say that I have yet to figure everything out, but I do love learning along the way.
So, today, what would be on your list of incoherent ramblings? What are some tips and tricks you have picked up along the way, the things you think need to be communicated and passed on to the next generation? Have you started a list?
Leave a comment and let me know what you would include!
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