Have you ever noticed some people look at situations differently than you?
A few years ago, I heard a radio personality talk about how science has proven women and men look at cleanliness differently. Women actually see dirt more easily than men. It’s not that they have some sort of super vision, but their awareness of filth is higher. This means as a husband, I need to adjust my standards of clean in order to be a blessing to my wife.
This happens in developing student leaders as well. So many times, as youth ministers, we fall into the trap of thinking a student has to meet a certain level of leadership ability in order to take on the mantle. But I would disagree.
In fact, as I have been working with student leaders more intensely over the past 3 years, I have noticed 2 criteria which are critical to developing successful student leaders.
I cannot think of a single situation where anyone has led without first making the most of an opportunity. In fact, without opportunity, nothing happens. Where there is no opportunity, there is no movement.
Opportunities are simple, but it may require you changing how you view situations. The old saying goes “If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” While the intent behind the saying may be negative, the truth is opportunity opens up when we shift our perception.
Every time you meet with students, there is an opportunity for leadership. My question for you is: are you making the most of the opportunities around you to allow students to grow and develop as leaders.
The other part of developing student leaders, and the most critical, is willingness. If a student is not willing to take intentional steps, any effort you exert will be diminished.
A student’s willingness to serve is imperative to their own development. But if you think about it, this concept is a no brainer.
As an adult, if you need to lose weight or cut back on salt, no one else can make that decision for you. It’s a decision you have to make. The people around you can provide opportunities, but it is up to you to make the most of the opportunities.
Students who are willing to serve, are more likely to grow as leaders. Students who are unwilling to serve will hit a ceiling of their own making.
The bottom line is this: if you can find a student who is willing to serve, give them an opportunity to serve and lead, and watch the impact they begin to make!
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I think looking back is important. I find encouragement in data. But the most important thing is looking forward. As we look forward for 3 Question Leadership and 2019, I can’t wait for what comes next.
Until 2019, as we get fully settled into December, I thought I would take a moment today to look back over 2018. Below you will find a link to the best performing post (the post with the most views) from each month. Looking at the titles, if you see one you don’t remember or may have missed, click to read it.
I have put some notes beside a few of the posts. But more important than my thoughts, I would love to hear what post may have impacted you this year. After all, my goal is not to help me grow as a leader, but to help you expand your leadership influence. So, let me challenge you to do something today besides read: if there has been a post that stirred your heart in some way, share it with your friends or comment below to let me know. Also, if you haven’t already, sign up for the email to get posts delivered to your inbox, and be looking for a surprise that may be coming down the pipe later this month.
January – 3 Fundraising Tips (A super practical post for ministry leaders)
February – You Can Make a Difference
March – Context is Key
April – Keep Going (The kickoff to 2018’s “Lessons from the Farm”)
May – Calling vs Job
June – Leadership & Yard Work (What you can learn from asking a 10 year old to mow your yard)
July – Navigating Pace
August – Leadership and An Airport Terminal
September – Substance vs Surface (this one may be my favorite post for the year!)
October – Never Lose Sight of the One
November – When Mistakes are not Mistakes, pt 3
Do you ever feel like a failure?
Over the past week I have had a couple people make mention of my leadership skillfulness (my word, not theirs). At the moment, however, I feel like a leadership failure.
The ministry here has a hit an interesting spot, and one I am having a difficult time assessing. But, in the process of assessing and diagnosing, I came to a realization: the failure of leadership is not leading poorly, it is not leading at all.
Let me drill down and put it another way. Making mistakes is not the failure of leadership; the failure of leadership is failing to develop others.
Let’s agree for the moment the 3 Questions give us a framework not only for developing other leaders, but for developing as leaders ourselves. After all, the power of the 3 questions comes from answering the 3rd question–“who can I get to help”.
Every organization (a youth ministry, for example) experiences life stages. Some organizations are in their infancy when the world is new and everything is exciting. Other organizations are in retirement, enjoying the fruit of their labor. Still others are adolescents, dealing with the emotional roller coaster of development, learning how to make right decisions by making wrong ones. But every organization changes, and will not look the same in the future.
As a leader, we have to ask ourselves, how are we adjusting to the current life stage? As a parent, I cannot relate to my 7 year old the way I did when she was 2. It takes time, discernment, and action to adjust and move forward.
So, if the failure of leadership is failing to develop others, when your ministry or organization moves from one stage to the next, the question to ask is not how do we keep things the same, but what does our ministry look like now?
For you, whatever life stage your ministry or organization is in, how are you adjusting? What needs to change? What needs to stay the same?
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.
Today’s post is going to be ministry specific, but it plays a role in leadership as well.
When I think back to the influential ministers in my life, very few of them became influencers because they stood at the front of the room.
There was my youth pastor who would stay after Wednesday service for an hour or more talking with me and a friend or two about all sorts of random things, until my parents called the church to see if I was okay.
There was the pastor who saw something in me and started spending time with me each week, helping me grow in my faith.
There was my coach/youth pastor who would put in extra time with me on the basketball court, giving me tips for improving my jump shot or baby hook.
Ultimately each of those people spent that time with me away from their “stage”. As a result, when they stood on the stage (or at the front of the room), their words carried so much more weight. They cared about me, and I knew it.
The same is true for us in leadership, especially in ministry. We have to be willing to spend time investing in individuals. When we do, the words we say from the stage carry more weight.
But there’s more to it than just being able to influence someone. Investment makes a difference.
When we invest in someone, we experience compassion for what they’re going through in life. Learn how to ask questions about what is going on in their life, and take a genuine interest.
When we invest in someone, we experience frustration because people are flawed (newsflash–you’re flawed too, and that may be where your frustration comes from).
When we invest in someone, we experience hope. As we get to know someone, we get a peek into what they could become, and then as a leader we get to help them realize that potential!
The bottom line is this: in leadership, never lose sight of the one. Foster relationships that provide a greater opportunity for impact and watch what happens next!