That’s What We Do

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Monday night I attended a band concert for my oldest daughter. As I was sitting in a chair watching her band-mates leave in droves and wondering where she was, I realized what was happening through a conversation we had a week earlier.

“We show up early and stay late. That’s what we do.”

My sweet, servant minded pre-teen (I can’t help but think there’s going to be a slight “interruption” sooner rather than later) has been raised by parents who show up early and stay late. It’s been ingrained in her, unnaturally, because she’s been drug to events early and kept late for years.

Now, this isn’t intended to be a dad-brag. Instead, it’s a study of leadership osmosis. I find one of the ways I serve most effectively is by showing up early and staying late, and in spite of me never actually coming out and teaching my child this mindset, she learned it by virtue of being dragged to places.

So how do we teach students who don’t live under our roof the same mindset? By including them. Give them opportunities. Recognize when they see the bigger picture, and celebrate it. Invite them again. Help them see the need and help them see they can meet the need.

One method I use to help teenagers see the subtle shift is the three questions. If a student can begin to ask themselves “What’s the bigger picture? What needs to be done?”, then we begin to take steps to moving them into a realm of leveraging influence.

But it has to start somewhere. Let me say that again. It has to start somewhere. We have to have conversations with them to help them see the opportunity.

What are you doing to develop leaders around you? How are you developing them? What steps are you willing to take to develop them? What changes do you need to make?

Thoughts and Actions

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Periodically I read a post from another blog and think to myself, “I don’t know if I could have said this any better.” That happened to me this morning.

Tim Elmore is a strong name in the field of developing student leaders. His company, Growing Leaders, is an incredible resource for people looking for a place to start developing student leaders. His Habitudes books are remarkably simple leadership lessons presented in a way most people can embrace.

This morning as I was perusing my emails, I saw a post that caught my eye. It is titled “The Benefits of Preparing Your Students to Think Like Leaders.” Naturally, it caught my eye. Here’s an excerpt:

What I love most about these students is they didn’t have a badge or a title. They weren’t necessarily student council members, team captains, or club presidents.  They were simply students who began to:
Think like leaders.
Act like leaders.
Instead of waiting for authorization or for a position, they acted on their desires to serve people and solve problems. The advantages of this mindset are spectacular.

Tim Elmore

These students thought like leaders AND acted like leaders before they ever got a title. The title doesn’t matter as much as the actions. Let me encourage you to click over and check out the rest of his post to read his well thought out words.

Leadership is Tough

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Leadership is tough. The constant battle that wages war between finding a groove and not being satisfied with where things are can take a toll over time.

Comfort versus progress provide the background for an ongoing tension.

That’s where vision and focus come into play. During seasons where comfort starts to settle into a situation, a clear vision helps me move forward.

Knowing what your target should be helps orient your aim at the end of the day. Having an idea of how to track your success and growth helps you not feel overwhelmed.

What’s your vision and focus for your current context? Do you have one? How are you measuring your successfulness? Ministers, is it attendance? Is it buy in? Is it something else?

As a leader, no one in the organization is as committed to the success and fruitfulness of your area as you are (or should be). Few people you lead lay their head down at night worrying about that little detail that has been rubbing you the wrong way all day.

You carry a burden for the success and growth of your ministry (or business). The burden, at times, feels feather light, while at other times it feels like a bag of bricks. That’s the burden of leadership. Your greatest test as a leader may not be your success as much as your endurance. If you can run the race and remain faithful, your impact over the years gains positive perspective. But you have to remain faithful where you are. You have to remain committed.

So, once again, what your vision and focus for your current context? What are you aiming for? Are you hitting it? Are there changes that need to be made? Are you willing to make the changes?

The reality is that leadership is tough, but you have an opportunity to take a stand and make the kind of difference you’re called to make. Hang in there, and keep expanding your leadership influence.

We All Need to be Reminded

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I’ve found myself in new territory the last couple of months with a willing 7th grade daughter in my ministry. Last night, on our way to an event, we had a wonderful conversation, and it got me thinking about a post I wrote earlier this year as I pondered the shift ahead. Here’s a glimpse of one of the five wishes I had (and still have) for her–go check it out!

I pray she keeps a heart willing to serve. As of right now, I don’t have to force her to do things, or at least not many things. She loves to serve. She is happy to go to the church and help with random odd jobs. I hope that never goes away.

Thanks for stopping by. Now, go read the other four! What would be on your list for those around you?

Why? Just Why?

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I have a business minded mentor with whom I try to connect on a regular basis. One of his favorite questions to ask me when we get together is about 3QL. I usually respond with a comment about my loyal readers with my tongue firmly in cheek.

The answer I give comes down to three things, so why not go ahead and put it out there? Here are the three reasons why I keep blogging here at 3QL:

  1. I Believe in Developing Student Leaders. Seems simple, right? Right around the beginning of my blogging journey (two and a half years ago!), I started asking youth ministers what they were doing to develop student leaders. The answers I got back were incredibly enlightening. I think we (me included) make excuses for not developing student leadership the way we can, but when someone commits to it, the game is changed. I know of several youth ministers in my circle of influence who have upped their game in student leadership over the past few years, and the results are mind blowing. Their impact has grown, their reach has expanded, and their ministry is benefitting. Bottom line, I want to be the guy beating the drum for student leadership. I want to provide food for thought, as well as tips and strategy for developing a ground up leadership structure, not just a leadership program. It’s not trendy, and it’s certainly not easy, but the payoff is remarkable.
  2. I Believe in Developing Leaders. My mentor, mentioned above, told me this week “Your ministry will never out grow your leadership, and I don’t mean just your personal leadership.” If I learn to develop leaders around me, then my influence multiplies. John Maxwell calls it the Law of Explosive Growth – To add growth, lead followers; To multiply, lead leaders. I can accomplish some pretty great things on my own, but if I can learn to develop other leaders, then the possibilities sky rocket. If you’re reading this, I want you to become a better leader. Other than my wife, who stockpiles and reads about a month at a time, I don’t know of anyone in my current context who regularly reads these posts, which means I may never experience the fruit of your growth as a leader. But I’m perfectly okay with that, because if you’re reading this, I want to help you expand your leadership influence. That means I write with youth ministers in mind, but I also write with people who aren’t ministers in mind. When you grow, I grow.
  3. I Believe in Developing My Leadership. The reality of 3QL is that this has become an avenue for me to process what is happening around me. Since I began blogging, I’ve see three transitions (two pastor transitions, and my own transition to a new ministry). I’ve seen the death of my father-in-law, and encountered some incredible new people. I’ve seen my oldest daughter enter my ministry. I’ve seen ministries around me grow and flourish because of the growth of leadership. All of these things, plus so much more, have happened in what seems to be an instant, and this blog has forced me to process leadership lessons along the way. Every time I sit down to write, my goal is for me to grow. So, at the end of the day, if you were to map out the 289 posts since February 2017, you would be able to see, in part, the arc of my life during that time. When I reflect and process, I believe I am able to grow.

The bottom line is this: leadership development rarely happens on accident. We have to be intentional.

Today, let me ask a favor. I don’t do this often, but if you are a regular reader and feel like you’re a better leader because of your time spent at 3QL, would you be willing to share a post that has resonated with you? You could share the link to an actual post, or just share a thought and a link to the blog ( is a great place to send someone who hasn’t been here before). Together, let’s increase our leadership influence.

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