The Simplicity of 3QL

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The genesis of my blogging adventure began with a simple concept: sharing three questions I started teaching students leaders to ask and answer in an attempt to expand their leadership influence.

If you’re new to 3QL, I would encourage you to go check out the Foundation to see a short summary of the namesake for this endeavor. Go ahead, this post will wait for you.

The abbreviated version boils down to this: When you walk into a room (or encounter a situation in general), ask yourself…

  1. What needs to be done? (Awareness)
  2. What can I do? (Willingness)
  3. Who can I get to help? (Leadership)

Lately I’ve been reflecting on the simplicity of the questions. Asking and answering the questions opens doors we could never imagine, but the three questions are also counter intuitive.

One of the easiest lies to buy into is that leadership belongs to those at the front (of the line, of the organization, of the room). But we all have seen the impact someone can have on a room from a seat that’s not the front.

So leadership is not limited to the front. John Maxwell’s second law of leadership is “The Law of Influence: The True Measure of Leadership is Influence – Nothing More, Nothing Less.” When we grow our influence, we grow our leadership.

The same is true in Youth Ministry (and life in general). When we teach students (or anyone) to ask and answer the three questions, what we are doing is preparing them to make an impact where they are.

If you’re reading this today, let me issue a challenge. A student doesn’t have to pay dues before having influence. Granted, there are benefits to life experience, but the gamble we take in Youth Ministry is waiting too long to provide leadership opportunities.

Don’t wait. Develop leaders regardless of their age. You never know what may happen. Pour into your older students, but also be willing to pour into and invest in your younger students as well. When you build a balance, you’ll be amazed at the difference you’ll begin to notice.

And if you’re not sure where to start, get a group of students with hearts of a servant, teach them the three questions, and ask them how they answered the questions. You’ll be amazed at what begins to happen.

Leadership Exercising

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I’m not as young as I used to be. Isn’t that the motto of every adult?

Sunday night I played pickup basketball for the first time in a while (I don’t remember the last time I played, honestly). And guess what? I was tired and sore afterwards.

I live a decently active lifestyle. I exercise daily, can get out and run a mile or two at a comfortable pace without walk breaks, but I’m pretty convinced there’s nothing that can physically prep you for basketball sore.

In reality, any type of exercise targets a unique collection of muscles. Running requires a different combination than cycling. Cycling requires a different combination than rowing or HIIT. Seems obvious, right?

Leadership is the same way. If you want to grow in your leadership influence (and I’m hoping that’s why you’re here), then you have to exercise your influence muscles.

Put another way: if you want to become a better leader, you have to practice leading.

This concept was very difficult for me as a 19 year old. I wanted to serve in a ministry role, but the reality was my experience in actually leading was very limited. I didn’t see it at the time, but I do now.

The good news is while we are waiting to lead in the way we’ve always dreamed of leading, we get to practice leading in the way we need to lead in the moment. And while we practice leading now, we may just realize the way we’ve always dreamed of leading isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, or even how we’ve been called to lead.

Today, you’re faced with a decision. Are you going to take the necessary steps to lead? Very few people experience long term leadership success by accident–it’s a conscious decision. What situation facing you needs attention? What conversation needs to take place? Who needs an opportunity to step up? Who needs an opportunity to step down? What relationship needs strengthening today?

Are you willing to take the necessary steps today to exercise your leadership muscles in an effort to be a better leader tomorrow? I hope you are, and I’m glad we’re walking this adventure together!

When the Visible Turns Invisible

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Have you ever noticed you never realize how messy your house is until someone is coming to visit?

Or, how after you drive by the same thing day after day, you start to ignore it? Except for stop lights. We always pay attention to stop lights.

What about the decorations around you? Unless you’ve done a recent remodel, I doubt you’d be able to tell me what order pictures and paintings are in on your wall.

Time and repetition play a funny trick on us. Over time, the more we see something, the more likely we become blind to it.

This is true in leadership as well. When we lead in similar situations for a continued amount of time, we have to fight becoming blind to key things around us–strained relationships, organizational complexity, insider language, etc.

This may be simple, but for me it’s messes. I get accustomed to a mess until I have a special guest, then I realize there are books and papers all over the place. Then, I find myself racing to make things look presentable.

For you, it’s likely something else. Maybe you’re forgetting about a relationship that’s been strained for too long. Or you are using insider language that makes new people feel left out and unwelcome.

In leadership, maybe you’re focusing too much on recruiting new people and neglecting the care of the ones you have already. Think of someone who has been serving with you for a while who would greatly benefit from some personal attention and go the extra mile with them.

What do you have in your life that has become “old hat” so much that you do not even recognize it anymore? What steps do you need to take to make the appropriate adjustments and give the necessary attention? Take those steps today!

Leaders Add Value

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Confession time, again. I’ve been blogging about leadership for over two years now, and just recently read (listened to, actually) John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.

The laws Maxwell lays out are concise and incredibly insightful. I would encourage you to pick up a copy today and check it out, after you finish reading this post.

The fifth law Maxwell shares, The Law of Addition–Leaders Add Value by Serving Others, grabbed my attention.

If you are reading this because you want to grow in your leadership influence (I’m writing this because I want you to grow in your leadership influence, btw), then take a moment today to ponder this law.

You make an impact on those around you not by how well you speak or plan, but by the value you add to the lives of those you lead. Now that’s no excuse to speak or plan poorly, but learning to live by the law of addition helps you grow as a leader.

Speak truth into tough situations.

Be the smiling face willing to answer questions.

Send a note of encouragement.

Find ways to add value to those you lead. Get to know them, their families, their priorities, their worries, and their dreams. When you make an effort to make their lives better, the return is incredible.

Don’t believe me? Take a moment to think of a great leader you know. I’m sure big names and authors come to mind, but chances are you remember a teacher or coach who went the extra mile with you. They made an effort to add value to your life by serving you, and you will remember them forever because of it.

You have a great opportunity today to add value to those around you. Make the most of it!

How the Day Ends

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I know how this day ends. By my best estimation, this day ends with me laying my head on a pillow and closing my eyes.

What I do not know, is how the day unfolds. Every moment today will present a new challenge, a new adventure. The challenges and adventures of the day may be something I have encountered previously, or they may be something for which I was not prepared.

Either way, the challenges and adventures presenting themselves to me today have to be met, and I will meet them with enthusiasm.

But, at the end of the day, regardless of the challenges and adventures I encounter, I know how this day ends. And when this day ends, I will be grateful for the time I had and the lessons I learned along the way.

I hope when your day ends today, you will be able to look back and know you made the most of what came your way.

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