What’s Your Rhythm?

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I served at my last church for almost 7 years. In addition to the ministry I was able to lead and participate in, one of the things I am most grateful for during my time was the unofficial mentoring relationships I was able to establish.

In that unofficial mentoring, one of the things I picked up was the value of understanding rhythm. You can read a small part of that thought, geared specifically to Youth Ministers, over at the Horizon Youth Ministry blog. But when it comes to rhythms, I still have so much to learn!

One of the things I am benefitting from is journaling. In January of 2019 I began practicing The Miracle Morning as described by Hal Elrod, and it’s been a great practice for me. One of the elements is journaling. So, almost every morning, I journal. Twice.

The first is a “One Line a Day, 5 Year” Journal. This means, I write a sentence or two about that day. And now that I’m on my 2nd year, I have a built in reminder of major life events from the past 2 years, as well as perspective on things that seem big in the moment, but I would have completely forgotten. I make a point to make up for missed days on this, so I don’t have a blank day for the past 22 months.

The second, is an online journal with a feature that will send me my post from the last year, if I wrote on that day. I’m a little less rigid with this one, but the two-three paragraphs make for great reminders.

Today, I benefitted from my one line a day journal. I read what I wrote last year, and immediately it gave me some perspective on the rhythm I’m in for this time of year. And I feel refreshed (and perplexed) by it.

How are you embracing rhythms? What are the natural ebbs and flows of your life, and are you leaning into them? Do you naturally notice those rhythms, or do you (like me) need help being reminded?

How Do You Stay Sharp?

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Three months ago I started talking to a few friends about starting a book club of sorts. The idea was we would read through a book, and once a week we would have a zoom call to cover what we read and how it applied to our context.

For someone who doesn’t have just a great habit of reading, it was quite a challenge. But it was so much fun.

Then, we finished, and I stopped reading. It was as though I kind of hit the brakes on that discipline. Fast forward from the end of book club to last week, and I realized something:

I’m better when I’m filling my head with thoughts and ideas on purpose.

Now, I know this is true with scripture memory. In fact, one of my favorite to statements to make when teaching on the benefits of scripture memory is nothing impacts my day more than when I’m intentional about memorizing scripture. And it’s true.

But this is different. These are the down moments. When I’m home and done for the day and my mind starts to wander, if I’m not intentional about what I’ve been putting in, the results can be pretty scary.

So, in an effort to remain sharp, I’m trying to continually build the muscle of reading more. I want those moments to be filled on purpose, not on convenience.

In fact, I’m getting ready to start up another book club. And this time, I’m going to open it up. If you’d be interested in participating with me and a few others, email 3questionleadership@gmail.com and let me know. Our plan will be to finish up before the end of the year. Our book hasn’t been chosen, but will deal with something in the realm of leadership.

What’s Your Focus?

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Have you ever set a goal and accomplished it?

I set a goal to finish 36 books in 2019, and I did. That came after setting a goal in 2018 to finish a number of books (I don’t remember how many), and not reaching it. Even the fact I don’t remember the number from 2018 but do remember the number in 2019 tells you something.

My focus shifted. I no longer wanted to just have a goal, I wanted to accomplish my goal.

So I made a spreadsheet at the beginning of 2019 and recorded the books I finished. Every time I finished one, I would add it to my last, and update my count at the bottom of the page. And something amazing happened. I met my goal.

It’s actually not that surprising that I met a goal as I was tracking it consistently. It makes sense to most of us. Why?

Because we move toward our focus.

Focus is the difference between setting a goal and achieving a goal.

And the same is true for developing student leaders. If we don’t have a focus to guide them towards, then how are we helping them grow? It’s the difference between some books and 36 books.

Spend some time today narrowing your focus. Decide what you want students to aim for, and how you can help them hit that target. Then, put the target out there and continually remind them it’s there.

Ultimately, if we want to develop student (and adult) leaders, focus is the key.

What’s one way to do that? Implement the three questions and continually ask how they’re answering them. Over time, they will start to see opportunities and meet them instinctually.

What If Obedience Matters Most?

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God didn’t go looking for leaders. God looked for obedient people whom he then formed into leaders.

Gene Wilkes, Jesus on Leadership

As part of my daily startup routine when I get into the office, I read part of a book. For someone like me who is not a natural reader, it’s been a nice discipline to try to develop.

For a good portion of 2020, I spent time reading through Gene Wilkes’ book Jesus on Leadership. And it was a great read.

This morning I was going back over my notes (another discipline I’m trying to develop), and found the quote above.

I’ve written about obedience over skill before, but I think Wilkes’ quote here is what trips up so many people as they seek to develop leaders, or even to develop as a leader themselves.

We set an imaginary bar someone must reach, and until they do so, we decide they (or we) don’t qualify.

But what if we change the bar for leadership?

What if the most important trait to look for in a potential leader isn’t their charm or their ability to work the crowd? Not that this disqualifies anyone.

What if the most important trait to look for in a potential leader isn’t their ability to rally a group of people for a cause? Not that this disqualifies anyone.

What if the most important trait to look for in a potential leader isn’t even their ability to connect with people one on one? Not that this disqualifies anyone.

What if the most important trait to look for in a potential leader is obedience to God? Someone who is willing to be obedient to what God is calling them to do. Someone who isn’t looking for the next ladder to climb or spotlight to stand in, but instead someone in tune with how God is moving in their lives. (Sometimes that movement includes a ladder, or a spotlight, or a brook.)

What’s your criteria for developing leaders? What are you looking for in students as you try to decide who may be able to take the next step?

What’s your criteria for yourself as a leader? When you don’t see the results you want in your own life, what becomes your baseline?

Remember, throughout scripture, God uses ordinary people who practiced obedience. Let’s aim for that today.

Check It Out: The Calm in the Storm

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I had a moment yesterday.

When I was younger, there was a movie called Frequency. The basic idea was a man found his deceased dad’s old radio and cranked it up. As he talked to different people he realized one of them was actually his dad–the radio was allowing him to connect with someone 30 (?) years in the past. (You can look it up to see how poorly I’ve described it, but I think I have the gist.)

Anyways, yesterday, I had a moment. Where a post I wrote in June was just what I needed in October. So, today, I thought I would share it with you in the hope that it helps.

The post is called The Calm in the Storm, and talks about finding a pocket of time in your day. And I want to challenge you to do just that today. Find a pocket of time and let your productivity soar. You can do it. But first, click here to read the post!

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