Changing Environments

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I have a very bad habit of driving somewhere, putting my vehicle in park, and sitting in the vehicle for a while before I get out. Sometimes, I do this because I’m listening to sports radio and want to hear the end of the thought being expressed, or maybe I’m just moving slow that day. But occasionally, I hesitate because I don’t want to trade one climate for the other.

If it is bitterly cold outside, then the warmth of my vehicle is too appealing.

If it is raining, I dread stepping out into the rain. (This one doesn’t happen very often as we rarely get rain.)

If the heat outside is blistering, then the allure of the A/C can be too much.

In leadership, we have to be careful about developing a similar habit.

We may find ourselves waiting outside a meeting where we know the atmosphere will be chilled by attitudes.

Or maybe we hesitate to call an important meeting because we fear what may take place.

Or we put off having a tough conversation out of fear the conversation will go to a dangerous place.

Understand this: if you are in a position of leadership, find the balance between looking for problems to blow up and hiding from situations that scare you. You do not have to become a bulldog that tears into every conflict with glee, but you also cannot afford to be a turtle who hides in your shell at the first sign of unpleasantness.

As a leader, someone has placed trust in you to lead, so make the most of that trust.

Over the years, I have found that when I hesitate to do something, my hesitation is a key indicator the something needs to be done. I seldom worry and put off things that do not matter. Is that true for you? What are your own signs of the need for something to be done?

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?

Flint-Like Friends

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Proverbs 28:18 says “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Over the years I have been fortunate enough to build some key relationships with some great people. Many of those relationships are ones which I try to keep fresh on a regular basis. Some of them, however, go dormant for a season.

Last week I had the honor of reconnecting with some good friends. It was a joy to talk about faith, life, ministry, family, and several other things. We asked each other questions to help us understand situations and problems, and even shared some great dreams we have for our lives.

In the end, I’m so grateful for the men and women who surround me and whom I am able to engage in mind stretching conversations. I was challenged by the things we discussed (and hopefully did the same in return), and I believe we were better for the time we spent together.

What about you? Who are you engaging on a regular basis to make you a better leader? Is there someone you need to re-engage? It may not be someone locationally close, but with modern technology most people are only a text away.

If you cannot answer the question above, take some time today to write down a few names of people you can start trying to bounce ideas off. Then, over time, see what starts to develop. You might be surprised at what happens next.

Confusion Breeds Chaos

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When I was an 8th grader, we didn’t have enough boys in 7th and 8th grade to field a football team, so the school decided to let 6th graders play. This was both good and bad.

It was good because we had enough kids to be able to play football that year, but it was bad because only one of the 6th graders had hit puberty. As a result, we had a historic season, and didn’t win a game.

Towards the end of the season our coach decided to work in a couple trick plays. One play involved some yelling from the sideline that we were using the wrong football, which would result in the center handing the quarterback the football (a legal exchange), the quarterback running toward the sideline as though he were going to trade the football. Just before getting to the coach on the sideline, the quarterback would run up field for what would hopefully be a touchdown and a win.

It didn’t work. The referees said the coach couldn’t yell that from the sideline. But the premise was true: confusion breeds chaos.

If we could get the other team questioning what they knew to be reality, then we could take advantage of the moment and surprise them.

In leadership, the principle applies as well. If the people we lead are unclear as to next steps, or even what we are trying to do, the result is chaos.

As a minister, if the adults who volunteer in my ministry don’t understand the long term goal and vision I set, then we have a team of volunteers who set their own long term goal and vision.

If student leaders don’t understand their role, then they set their own guidelines.

This isn’t master level manipulating. This is learning to sail the ship and getting everyone moving in the same direction.

What part of your leadership is suffering due to confusion? What steps can you take to add some clarity this week?

Leading by Letting Go

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I have what I would like to think of as a giving personality. I’m always willing to do something to help someone else. Well, usually.

But sometimes, my willingness to serve and to help may be the thing that prevents me from expanding my leadership influence.

Most areas where I serve, whether at church or somewhere else, my willingness to help may actually be harmful. My desire to equip those around me may actually be undercut by my desire to serve.

What about you? Are you someone who is willing to let go of something?

Think about it like this: I really enjoy running sound on a Sunday morning. Because of a few shifts in our congregation over the past year, I have gladly taken on a much larger role in the sound operation of a service. I have a few people who I have shown how to run sound, established some work-arounds to make it easier for someone else to do the job, but because I enjoy it, I haven’t fully let go.

This would be fine if I weren’t on staff, on stage, or regularly distracted by other responsibilities on a Sunday morning. So, what I’ve managed to do is handcuff anyone who might be willing to take a larger leading role.

So, what if I handed off that responsibility to someone else? What if I was willing to fully equip someone else to fulfill that need?

Are you unknowingly holding on to something in your ministry or at your work that might be holding those around you back? What do you need to let go of in order to let someone else shine?