Hey, you there. You reading this. I’m talking to you. Today’s post isn’t a pie in the sky theoretical thing. It’s a nuts and bolts post. Aimed directly at Student Pastors, but applicable to anyone in leadership.
Did you know the most read post on my blog in 2017 was about taking time to say thank you? I think most people resonate with the challenge of thanking people around us, but find it difficult to make it a regular part of our routine.
On Tuesday, I posted about the effectiveness of hand written notes and challenged you to write one note. Well, today, let’s look at three different types of people who need a note from you.
These people are the real heroes of youth ministry. Their role is crucial to any success or growth you may experience. Don’t believe me? Try serving in a church where you cannot pay a volunteer to show up versus a church where you’re able to establish a 1 adult to 3 students ratio–the difference is staggering.
Take time to show your appreciation for these incredible people who work full time jobs and volunteer their time. Write them all a note at one time, or tell yourself you’re going to write one or two each week. Whatever it takes.
You may not have continual contact with students, but you can make their day by sending them a note. One story in particular comes to mind: I sent a note to a student when she was in 8th grade, just to let her know I was praying for her. Around five years later, we were visiting while she was home from college, and she told me she still had that note. You never know what a student might need to hear, or just being reminded that you’re praying for them.
I alluded to this previously, but if I can make my daughters feel special with a note, why wouldn’t I do that? The same is true for my wife and my family. You may not have children or even a spouse, but I bet you have family of some sort that would love to get a note from you. Write a thank you or a “thinking of you” note to an aunt or uncle who played a significant role in your life and you’ll have the chance to be a blessing to them.
So, there you go. Pick a category, and write another note today. It’s worth the time it will take to write, trust me!
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We’ve all been there–the frustration of leading. You pour hours into a project or event or relationship, only to experience sub-par results. Or you have to make a decision in the moment, only to realize later you made the wrong choice. Anyone who has been in a leadership role can identify.
Today, we continue looking at a few mistakes we make in leadership, that even though they feel like a colossal failure in the moment, they are actually not mistakes. (Click here for part 1 and part 2.)
When you interact with leaders, you begin to see a common thread among some–I cannot ask for help because it will make me look weak. Or, for a few others, the mindset seems to be “Why ask someone else when I can do this better than they can?” Still others view asking for help as a sign of weakness, or worse, and admission of being incapable of accomplishing a task.
I have written about this idea several times, but it bears repeating. So, pay attention:
You will never grow your leadership influence if you never ask for help.
Sure, you have a specific set of skills. Sure, you are good at what you do. Sure, you enjoy what you do. But if you never allow the people around you to step up, to serve, and to grow, before long you will either have no one left, or the only people left will be people who expect everything to be done for them.
Think of it this way: if I can do something at 90% efficiency and I pass it off to a student, they might be able to do it at 75% efficiency at the beginning. But over time, if that something turns into a passion for them, they will likely move to 95% efficiency, or higher.
Just because you can do something does not mean you’re the only person who can do it. Yes, you need to find the two or three things only you can do and embrace them, but ask for help with the rest!
What are you holding onto today that needs to be let go?
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I got to spend the first part of my week at the Texas Baptist Youth Ministry Conclave in Arlington this week. For years I have always gone with the intent of connecting with friends and picking some insight up along the way.
This year, I was reminded why I enjoy connecting with other ministers.
I worked the booth for Horizon Camps and Resources, so I was able to interact with a variety of people. We gave away YooHoo (the official camp drink of Horizon Camps), but the better part was being able to reconnect with friends I have developed along the way.
One minister, in particular, I engage several times each year, but Tuesday I realized how much we had in common, and I was grateful for an opportunity to process some things together.
Today’s lesson is a simple one, but it’s this: connect with other leaders. If you are able to network regularly, keep it up! If you are one of the people who naturally engage with others, embrace that.
But, if you’re like me, I intentionally force myself to connect. Not because I think I am better, but because connections do not come easily for me.
Who are two leaders with whom you identify and respect? What would it take to call them up and invite them to coffee, or to do a video call if the distance is too great?
The truth is we pursue what is important to us. If growth is important, you will pursue it. If connection is important, you will pursue it. If relationship is important, you will pursue it. But, if your priorities are somewhere else, you will avoid the others out of necessity.
Make connecting with other leaders an intentional part of you life and priorities, and see what happens next.
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!
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.