Time for Evaluation

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On Sunday I was asked if I’m more or less busy with all the changes. The question came from genuine curiosity, and sparked introspection.

In all honesty, my schedule is a little more wide open. I have evenings free, for the most part. No practices, no games, no track meets, no meetings. I come home from work and I’m home.

But my schedule at work is different. Normally, I rely on routine. I have on my desk a generic week with one or two goals I know I need to accomplish each day of the week. That routine has gone away.

I had a routine as far as where I went, and when. That’s gone away.

I had a plan as to what I would aim to have accomplished each day. That’s gone away.

Instead, I find myself being tossed to and fro as though I’m on a boat moving through rough waters. My routine brought security and stability, and the upsetting of my routine brings the opposite.

So how did I respond on Sunday when asked? I feel like I’m working harder, but not nearly as efficiently.

And that’s where evaluation steps in.

Turmoil and the upset of a routine provides an uneasy momentary experience, but evaluation helps move toward a return to stability. How can I be more effective with my time? How can I break my week back into manageable pieces? What new goals do I need to set? What new opportunities do I need to push aside in order to make the most of what I have now?

My question is the same for you today. Whatever your role, I feel confident to say you are experiencing a similar turmoil. So have you taken time to slow down, evaluate your efforts and efficiency, and adapt? Spend some time today evaluating, and take some steps forward.

Train Student Leaders

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Last week I shared a couple thoughts I had about developing student leaders during this unprecedented experience. Today, I’m executing one of those ideas.

I’m doing an online leadership workshop for my small group of student leaders. Just to recap: they applied to be on the team in January, and we started meeting twice a week: a follow up to our midweek program (about 10 minutes max), and each Sunday before small groups for prayer.

The follow up meetings are something I’ve done (and valued) in the past, but as we got a few weeks into the process, I realized the question I was asking had no real frame of reference with this group. So today I’m teaching the 3 questions over a zoom call.

I’m a little apprehensive about the delivery method. Teaching to a computer screen, even if I can see everyone else, still feels like I’m talking to myself. The content is going to be pretty simple, and I’ve taught this multiple times before (not to mention blogging about it), but again, the delivery is going to be most interesting.

At the end of the day, my biggest goal is to introduce these students to some shared language. If we can all get on the same page and move forward with it, then it will be interesting to see where we go from here.

So, what are you doing to train student leaders? If you were going to set up a Zoom call and do an online leadership workshop/training, how would you approach it? What are you waiting for?

Even if you don’t work with student leaders, how can you gather and train those you influence in the coming days?

Leaders Cast Vision

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Leaders cast vision. In the midst of uncertainty, when no one knows what may come next, leaders cast vision.

I am fascinated by COVID19 and the rapid pace of change all around us. Every day new information bombards us, causing more shifts in reality. So, as a leader, how do you make sure you are leading others to move forward?

Leaders cast vision.

When I started in my current role just over a year ago, one of my goals was to set out some goals and some targets I wanted to aim for. This morning, as I was thinking about the road ahead, I realized my goals have not changed; my delivery method may change, but my goals remain the same.

My job, as a leader in my own context, is to make sure those I lead are on the same page, moving in the same direction. Chaos, by definition, is the absence of a unified movement. We are living in a time of chaos.

So, my role, as a leader, is to cast vision.

You are in the same spot. In a world dominated by chaos, casting vision is more important than ever. Return to the base line of your goals. If everything changes (which it is), what do you still want to accomplish? Now, communicate that to those you lead.

And remember, leaders cast vision.

Student Leadership Development and COVID19

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Back when I was starting to help develop what we now call Horizon Leadership Camp, I set out to ask as many youth minsters as possible one question: What are you doing to develop student leaders?

In the process of asking the question, I came to a conclusion: developing student leaders, while important, doesn’t take a front seat in the midst of the demands of student ministry. Instead, it gets pushed back into the realm of “if I have time”.

I wonder if in the midst of the chaos of self-isolation and social distancing we are once again pushing developing student leaders to the back. It’s only natural. I’ll confess that this week, in spite of my passion for leadership, I’ve not spent much time trying to come to grips with what student leadership looks like in our current context.

Thankfully, for today, I get to turn my focus to it. Here are two opportunities as we move forward:

  1. Gather student leaders, however possible, to evaluate. Our student ministry hosted a Zoom call last night, and it went pretty well, but I treasure evaluation. If I can get student leaders to help me think through things that went poorly and things that went really well, then everyone wins. The great thing about Zoom is everyone gets a voice.
  2. Gather student leaders to train them. I’ve mentioned previously that I regret not having a training with these student leaders to give us shared language, so guess what? It’s time to schedule a training! We don’t have conflicts for a few weeks, so now is a great time. It may not be ideal, but the opportunity is undoubtedly there.

As time rolls on and as our next steps become more and more clear, I’m sure that I will come up with other plans, but the biggest key is to not let leadership development go dormant in the midst of the chaos of ministry during COVID19.

So, what are you doing to develop student leaders during this time? Comment below!

3 Tips to Navigate an Unclear Future

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We are living in a strange time. I have so many thoughts and questions about what is happening all around us, but so few answers.

I would not say I’m worried about COVID19, but more worried about the implications it carries for the next few weeks. Every day for the past 7 days has been a roller coaster of emotion, and I feel like we are only seeing the beginning.

So, what does that mean for leadership? Here are three things I’m keeping out front as we navigate the coming weeks:

  1. Learn from others. One of my favorite ways of leading is to learn from what other people are doing. What is working? What is not working? What sounds like a contextual win and what would make sense for my setting? If I can come out of the 2nd quarter of 2020 having picked up some leadership lessons, then I’ll be better for it moving forward.
  2. Swing big. One of my favorite things about Youth Ministry is the ease with which we can introduce changes. Students live in a world of change, so they seem to be a little less resistant than adults. So, that means we have an opportunity to swing big in the next few weeks. We can try things we would have never considered, all for the sake of staying connected. As I process options, this post comes to mind.
  3. Be intentional. If gathering together is one of the strengths of the church as we know it (and I think it is), we have to be intentional in the days ahead. We have to be intentional about maintaining connections. We have to be intentional about checking in on those in our sphere of influence. We have to be intentional to nurture leadership in those around us.

At the end of the day, we will likely look back on this time of our lives and always ask if we handled our opportunities well. I hope both of us remember these days as something great in spite of the circumstances.

What are you doing to make sure you’re still prepared and ready moving forward?

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