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?

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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Sharpening Your Leadership Sword

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How do you sharpen your leadership sword?

Obviously, the most efficient way you do so is by reading this incredible blog. But other than that, what have you built into your daily and weekly rhythm to help you expand your leadership ability?

I’ve talked around this subject before, but perhaps you learn by reading, or by listening to podcasts (I share some of my favorite podcasts in this series of posts).

Here are a few thoughts I have about how to build into your rhythm a sense of leadership development:

  1. Books – nothing says “grow in leadership” like a book that promises to grow your leadership. A strong student can find a leadership book geared for any walk of life and apply the principles to their own context and experience in some way. Find a good book this week!
  2. Blogs – Again, if you’re reading this blog, you’re already at the head of the class. Well, maybe not, but if you’ve stuck with me this long, thank you. I do remember, actually, a blog I ran across years ago in my ministry that was my first read every day when I walked into the office, and something that regularly challenged me where I needed challenges, grew me where I needed growth, and seemed to always offer encouragement at just the right moment. Find something along these lines that encourages you.
  3. Podcasts – See this series of posts to see the podcasts that I make regular parts of my day or week. I’m an auditory learner and processor, so listening to conversations help me stay sharp.
  4. Table fellowship – Now, this may sound extra corny and church-y, but I love spending time around the table with other ministers who love God and love people, and are striving to equip those around them to do the same. There is something unique about including people into your life who are every day experiencing the same but different situations.

The bottom line is if you are serious in growing in your leadership, you have to be serious about learning. However you learn best, embrace it. Don’t be comfortable, but don’t guilt yourself into apathy, either. Always be willing to learn, and your leadership will continually expand.

Check it Out: The Horizon of Possibility

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Today’s link back is to one of my favorite concepts: the Horizon of Possibility, the way a leader looks at the future.

Check it out here: The Horizon of Possibility

Check It Out: Having a Personal Development Plan

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Today’s “Check It Out” is an early post dealing with your own personal development and how to help make sure you grow as a leader. Click here to read it.

Here’s a glimpse:

Look at a calendar, and look back over the last six months. What steps have you taken to become a better leader? Have you had regular meetings with a mentor? Have you read leadership books? Maybe you have attended some conferences, or go to a local network of professionals.

Leadership development for those around you will not take priority until your own personal leadership development takes priority. Let that soak in for a moment. Developing leaders around you will not take place at a rate that is greater than your own development.