Do Not Fear Criticism

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Happy Independence Day!

Last week I wrote a blog post, scheduled it, and published it, but I had one problem with it: I thought I could have done better. The title, in my opinion, was way better than the content. (You can read it here and judge for yourself)

The problem was not that I did not know how to match the title, I just didn’t have the time to do it. So, I published it.

“That wasn’t your best post” came the matter of fact statement from my wife Mica, while sitting beside me in a booth at Buffalo Wild Wings. A recently graduated student from our ministry sat across the table. Her eyes got wide when she heard the criticism, waiting for the fallout.

I nodded my head in agreement. I knew it. My wife knew it. The recent graduate knew it (she admitted having only skimmed the post earlier that day). It was perfectly okay for Mica to voice it, out loud, with me in range of hearing. Why?

I value constructive criticism. After being married for 13 years (my longest marriage to date), my wife and I know what’s safe. I lean on her to tell me the things other people will not. I value her opinions and loving correction.

As a leader, learn to listen to other voices. Learn to allow other people to say things to help you do better, to help you be better. When we allow pride to cover us so much that we depend on people around us to merely tickle our ears and say what we want to hear, we lose sight of our shortcomings.

When we lose sight of our shortcomings, we never have to wrestle with the things that will make us better: failure, struggle, and pain. When we believe we have it figured out, we stop growing as a leader.

My desire for you and for me is that we will never get to a place where we are satisfied with where we are as leaders. That’s why I write. That’s why I teach the three questions.

In the meantime, I will continue to write, to strive to get better, and to value the input and honest evaluation of the person I care for the most in this world.

Whom have you invited into your inner circle and given permission to be honest with you? Thank them this week.

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Mid-Summer Check In

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Wow. Just wow.

January 30 was when I started blogging regularly on this site. I started out because I had a simple idea I felt like I needed to share. (You can read more about that here.)

Today, we are nearing the end of June, which means I have been blogging consistently (for the most part) for five months.

If you’ve stuck with me so far, thank you so much. I have been advised not to watch my views and visitors, but I do it anyway. So, every time you click, I’m grateful.

Here are a few thoughts as the journey continues.

  1. If you’re new here, thanks for stopping by. Please feel free to click around the site and read some of the posts. My early posts are relatively longer, whereas the posts from April start getting a little shorter. My goal is to post twice a week with content that is simple, yet applicable. Feel free to check out my series titled “Lessons from the Farm” by clicking here.
  2. If you’re a regular, would you be willing to do me a favor? It’s hard to describe what a social media “share” does in terms of reach. Would you take just a few minutes to find one of the posts you like the most and “share” it on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform you frequent? I would love to see the impact of this blog grow, and you can play a major role in helping.
  3. I will continue posting “fresh” content twice a week. However, with almost 50 posts published to date, I am going to start “recycling” one post each week. Part of this is for new people (see line 1), and part is because I think an idea may be solid and worth repeating.
  4. Let me know you’re reading! You can do this by a comment on the site, a like on Facebook, or a high five in real life. Few things fuel me more than genuine affirmation. (That may turn in to a post later this week.
  5. Finally, subscribe however possible:

Find the blog on Facebook by clicking here or searching “three question leadership” on Facebook.

You can follow 3QL on Twitter here.

You can also subscribe to receive new posts by email by clicking here.

Once again, thank you for your time, for your encouragement so far, and for the days and weeks ahead. I think we are onto something great as we continue to help expand your leadership influence!

 

A New Adventure

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Next week a project on which I have been working and dreaming up for the past two years launches–Horizon Leadership Camp.

On Wednesday, I will load vehicles with a group of students going to youth camp with Horizon Camps. While we are there, I have the opportunity to pour into a small group of student leaders with the sole purpose of helping them develop as leaders.

Many of the things I’ve written over the past 4+ months will play a role in what I share, but more than anything I have to say, I am excited about the opportunity to interact and help develop student leaders from a context different than my own students.

Would you like to find out more about Horizon Camp and the Horizon Leadership Camp experience? Click here.

While this is happening, I also have the opportunity to pour into my own students and student leaders as we enter a new chapter in our ministry, and I couldn’t be more excited.

So, what’s the leadership principle or thought in this?

Hard work pays off?

Leaders develop leaders?

Hang in there?

I can force a principle, but the reality of this post is I am excited. Developing leaders and watching students, especially, adventure out of their comfort zones gives me high expectations.

I am so grateful for someone who saw something in me, pursued it, and has helped me grow through it.

So here’s to a new adventure, to HLC 2.0.

 

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Redefining Leadership Potential

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So much of my experience in developing leaders comes from working with teenagers. Over the past two years, as I have talked with other youth workers, I have started to notice a common thread in a few of our conversations:

The necessity for a student to show a readiness to lead before being given opportunities.

My approach to developing student leaders takes a slightly different path. Instead of waiting for students to show a competency for leadership, I have redefined leadership potential.

I treat teenagers as though they are capable of taking a leadership role, regardless of their age. Why? Because, they are capable of leadership regardless of age. Yes, Juniors and Seniors are more mature and can exhibit stronger leadership, but what are we missing by not developing those Juniors and Seniors as 8th and 9th graders?

 

I’m so grateful that in 9th grade my youth minister gave me the opportunity to start developing my leadership and passion for Christ.

On Thursday, I will continue this thought with a few examples and what I use to help students just getting their feet wet in leadership find ways they can contribute.

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Lessons from the Farm: Don’t Leave Cattle on the Truck

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This week I am going to finish up my first theme. I’m calling these posts “Lessons from the Farm”. You can read the first post here, or click the Lessons from the Farm Category to the left.

Just a little background: My lesson today comes from a more recent learning. A few years back, I took a break from full time ministry to serve bi-vocationally. During that time, farming and ranching was my main income, but the lessons learned have not left me yet.

A winter weather storm was moving our direction one day, and it was time to buy more cattle (2 Semi trucks and one 40 foot stock trailer worth). That meant we had three trips from the sale barn to the farm, and only two drivers.

My dad and I made the first trip, he was in the truck and I was in the pickup pulling the stock trailer. We unloaded at home around 7:30, and decided to ride back together, arriving back at the sale barn at 9pm behind 8 trucks waiting to load.

While we waited, the winter storm hit. Snow started lightly falling at first. Eventually, the brunt of storm hit and we were waiting in a snow covered parking lot. Our trailer was still empty.

We got home, unloaded, and walked into our houses that night well after midnight. My pregnant wife was struggling awake, waiting to make sure we got home safely.

The lesson: We never left cattle on the trucks. Weather, exhaustion, anger, confusion, or any other reason. We always worked until the job was done.

Thursday I will finish unpacking what I learned from that night. Until then, I’ll leave you with this question: are you willing to drive an 18-wheeler loaded with cattle through a snow storm to finish the task at hand? What are you leaving unfinished that needs to be finished?

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