It’s Okay to Hope

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Have you ever set a New Year’s Resolution?

Have you ever chosen not to set a New Year’s Resolution?

Have you ever claimed “My New Year’s Resolution is to not have any New Year’s Resolutions”?

A few years ago, I felt guilty for ever getting excited and setting some goals for the new year. It seemed every conversation covering resolutions took on a significantly negative tone. And I bought into it.

Then, I read a blog where someone said they always looked forward to the new year and the hope that it brings.

So, today, I want to take a stab at doing that for you. You may find yourself having given up hope for 2018 based on 2017 as a whole, or in part. Well, it is not too late to change your approach. It is okay to hope.

What if 2018 becomes the year you do something great? What if 2018 becomes the year you accomplish that goal you’ve never seemed to achieve before? What if you have matured as a person to the point where the mistakes you made in your younger days will no longer provide as much resistance as you remember?

Let yourself, for just a moment, find hope and refreshing in the changing of the calendar, even if we are a few days behind.

Pick one thing you’d like to accomplish this year and write it in a place where it will serve as a reminder for you. Stick with it. Keep it in front of you. Pursue it. Achieve it.

Who knows, maybe 2018 will be the best year yet for both of us. I look forward to taking this journey with 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?

Leadership Grows

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Our own personal leadership should always be growing and evolving.

On Tuesday I made the statement that we are not who we are today without who we were yesterday. I promise that’s not my attempt at philosophy.

Do you ever find yourself being content with where you are as a leader? I don’t think I’m alone in this. The struggle is always going to be “is this it, or can I grow some more?”

The answer, by the way, will always be yes, you CAN grow some more. But there’s comfort in what we know.

Don’t settle for comfort. Don’t settle for anything.

So, how can you grow in your leadership? Here are a few tips:

  1. Learn to ask good questions, and ask them a lot. I love being around people who can ask a question that inspires me. Find someone like that and learn to ask good questions.
  2. Find people who are doing something different, and learn. This is true of craftsmanship: if you want to learn how to sew, find someone who knows and learn. But it’s also true in leadership. You don’t have to lead like someone else does, but you can definitely learn from what they’re doing well and apply it to your life.
  3. Find the way you learn, and grow. I’ve blogged about this before, but find out what learning style you are, and get after it! Embrace your unique giftedness, and learn.

If you’re not growing as a leader, take some time to evaluate and ask the question “why”?

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Losing Teeth & Growing as a Leader

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Have you ever considered that you are not who you are today without who you were yesterday? Is that confusing enough for you?

Think about it like this: in the last few days, my youngest daughter has lost 2 teeth. This is a normal part of the growth process. Every adult has lost at least one tooth along the way. But, if we didn’t have our baby teeth come in first, those adult teeth would be a killer.

If you’re a parent, think about that for a little while. What if your baby never cut teeth? Then what do you blame the nasty diapers on? Oh, and there’s the whole chewing food thing that becomes essential for health.

So, in order to have our adult teeth come in, we have to have baby teeth come in first. This seems like a simple concept, and it is, but do you think about your leadership the same way?

If you’ve been leading for very long at all, I’m sure you can think of a time where you were cutting your baby teeth. It was undoubtedly a big deal at the time. Then, as you’ve grown, that baby tooth has fallen out and been replaced by another tooth, one that has stood the test of time.

One example would be the foolishness and arrogance of a minister in their early 20s. I knew everything at 23-24. Except, I didn’t. As that baby tooth of confidence (which was important at the time, but eventually taken too far) made the initial cut, it made the way for the adult tooth of realizing I don’t know everything and I need to ask more questions, and always be learning.

What’s your most recent tooth loss? How have you grown in the past few weeks as a leader? Are you willing to grow some more? What tooth do you need to pull?

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How I Use the 3 Questions for Student Leadership

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Today, I’m going to layout a little bit of the strategy of how I’m using the 3 questions to train and equip student leaders.

If you’re not familiar with what the three questions are, I would encourage you to go read this first.

Now that you’ve read it, here we go.

Teaching the 3 Questions

I first taught the three questions to student leaders in August of 2016. From there, we’ve been on a bit of a journey. When teaching the concept, it helps to give plenty of examples. For our context, the simplest examples we use are: setting out chairs, getting ice, filling cups with ice, setting out Bibles, sitting with students who are visiting or sitting by themselves, connecting with people outside of one’s circle, stacking chairs, clearing tables, etc.

I really think the 3 questions are a simple shift in perception. If I can get students to see the world around them through the lens of the 3 questions, then I’m equipping them 1) to see the world differently and 2) to change it.

Along the lines of this shift, one thing I’ve noticed is there are two kinds of people: those who naturally recognize opportunities, and those who don’t. I don’t think it’s a character flaw to be the latter, but it does make answering the questions more difficult. I also think this is true of adults. Some people are naturally wired to help and to serve, and for others, it’s a choice they make along the way.

Overcoming obstacles

After a few months of implementing the 3 questions, I noticed our student leaders were only asking other student leaders to help them accomplish tasks instead of leveraging their influence to include outsiders. We talked about it as a team, and I challenged them to include people who weren’t on leadership team, and they started doing so.

One of the coolest things for me to see was on a Wednesday night before anyone else showed up, a boy (who wasn’t on leadership team), walked in and unknowingly answered the 3 questions by putting chairs out. He didn’t know the framework, but he knew he had been included in putting chairs out enough times that he knew it needed to be done. This has happened several times.

There’s More

To this point, what I’m doing may not seem like much, but on Thursday I am going to unpack what I’ve learned a little more. For me, teaching students to answer the 3 questions has been a journey for everyone involved. I hope you’ll check back on Thursday.

 

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