Say It Again and Again

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Have you ever gotten frustrated because you’ve had to repeat yourself? One of my biggest pet peeves is having to say the same thing over and over. But maybe, as I think about it, that’s a completely irrational pet peeve.

I write these posts for basically people that fall into one of two categories: 1) People, generally Youth Ministers, who desire to develop student leaders and value thought generation, and 2) People, generally Youth ministers, who want to grow their own leadership influence.

After doing this fairly consistently for 4+ years, much of what I write comes from in the moment experience. I see a situation I’m having to address in my own ministry or in my own leadership, and find a leadership principle to share. As a result, this blog becomes a time capsule of sorts-chronicling my own leadership journey and growth.

But even in the midst of the lessons and principles I try to extract from my current situations, there are a few ideas to which I always return.

And the redundancy of leadership may be one of my favorite and most central principles. I’ve written about it several times, which actually only makes sense. You can read some of those former posts here, here, and here.

But the idea is simple (and not original to me): Vision leaks. No one is as passionate about your mission and vision as you. As you seek to grow your leadership influence, impact your realm, and develop leaders around you, NO ONE is as passionate about your mission as you.

But there are people who are waiting to be invited into your mission. They want to help. They are begging to serve. But they need to be reminded.

And that’s where the redundancy of leadership comes in. Be prepared to repeat yourself. You’re going to have to do so. You are going to have to stand up time and time again and remind people of the target for which you’re aiming, because if you don’t help them know what to shoot for, they will pick their own target.

Few people love doing the same thing over and over and over and over and over. Redundancy gets a bad reputation because it’s boring. But redundancy is necessary.

So whatever vision you’re casting, whatever mission you’re trying to unite people around, whatever goal you’re striving for: Say it again and again.

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Big Change Takes Time to Chew

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I started the Three Question Leadership Blog 4 years ago. I thought I would spend the next few weeks sharing some of my first posts, in their entirety, here. Whether you’re new or have been with me all along, I hope you find these concepts applicable.

I fancy myself a thinker. I enjoy looking at situations and dreaming up next steps. As such, I spend a large chunk of my time thinking and considering options.

Along the way, I’ve learned an important leadership principal:

Big Change Takes Time to Chew

Just because I’ve spent countless hours thinking about a change I want to lead, does not mean the people around me and, more importantly, those from whom I need support in the change, have spent countless hours thinking about the change.

In fact, often times, I’m suggesting a change they may have never considered.

When I include other people in the planning and thinking process, three things happen:

1. They feel like part of the decision, because they are

When someone feels free to offer opposing views in a supportive way, solutions are more easily sought out and pursued. And with ownership comes buy-in.

2. They get to work through their hesitations

I cannot tell you how many times in my life I have initially bristled at a decision made by someone above me, only to realize the validity a little time later (sometimes hours, sometimes a few days). Time can help ease (or raise) doubts. 

3. They take ownership of the new direction

Decisions are implemented much more fluidly when leadership is on the same page. One body moving in the same direction proves more effective than chaos. 

One Final Disclosure

I am not saying you let the people around you determine the direction, but instead you bring them to the table and treat them like their thoughts and opinions matter, because they do. And sometimes, the collective wisdom will present a path you hadn’t considered previously.

I am far from the world’s best at this, and still regularly make mistakes, BUT I do know enough to say: do not let the people around you choke on the big changes, because big change takes time to chew.

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Adapt and Grow

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One of the things I admire the most about my dad is his ability to adapt. He has farmed all of his life, but he hasn’t done the same thing all the way through. Just in my memory he has raised cotton, hay grazer, wheat, milo, stocker calves, cattle pairs, feeders, and so much more, but never all at the same time.

I’ve heard him talk about trying to survive financially in the 80’s, and that he was doing everything he could to try to make money. The struggle made him better in the long run, but I’m grateful I was pretty clueless about it.

When we settle for a “this is who I am and what I do” mentality, then we miss a key element for growth–adaptation.

I think all of us would agree that new situations stretch us, and in turn, cause us to grow. But new situations are the easy example. How do you continue to grow when you’ve been somewhere for a while?

Continue to adapt.

I love leadership. I love helping students (and adults) grow in their leadership influence. I even have a pretty nifty framework to help introduce the concept of servant leadership. But even with all of that, if I stop adapting what I’m doing, then I will stop growing. And I never want to stop growing.

So, take a minute right now and think about your situation. What needs to be adapted? What changes need to be made? What adjustments do you need to address?

If you’re in ministry, what skill set do you need to strengthen? Organization? Time management? People skills? Teamwork? Beard trimming (looking at you, Youth Pastors)?

If you want to maintain a lifestyle of growth, then consistently be on the lookout for ways to grow. And grow.

Lying Street Signs

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Last week I talked about shared language. You can read what I wrote here (Unlock the Power of Shared Language) and here (Beware the Dangers of Shared Language).

Today, I thought I would share a story.

At my previous church, we had to find our own housing. Our salary was pretty minimal, so the cost of housing was a burden, and add to that living in a small town with few housing options, we were always looking for an opportunity to alleviate some financial burden.

One day at church a deacon approached me with an opportunity. This deacon was a wonderful man, had grown up in the community and moved back in retirement. He and his wife opened their home to us the first weekend we stayed in town, and undoubtedly supported us. He had found a potential house for us to live in for an incredible price.

The next step was for us to drive by and look at it. He gave me directions, with one problem. He told me the house was on Church Street. So, later that Sunday, after naps, we piled the family into the car and started driving around, looking for Church Street. It wasn’t where I thought it should have been, so we started driving to find it.

Let me insert something at this point. I love small towns. I grew up in a small town. I have lived in small towns most of my life. But, one of the downsides to small town life is street signs are not a necessity.

So, as we were driving around town, we had to hunt to find street signs just to see if we could find Church Street.

Can you see where this is going? I never found Church Street. Do you want to know why?

I didn’t share the language. Church Street, strangely enough, was the street with three churches on it. But it’s name was Washington Street.

Shared Language is a powerful thing. But makes sure the people to whom you’re talking share the language too. If not, bring them in and watch an ally be born.

Beware the Dangers of Shared Language

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Earlier I wrote about the Power of Shared Language. I really do believe having phrases that we repeat often can unlock some incredible potential.

But on the road of developing shared language, there are a few speed bumps along the way. Today, I want to talk about two specific speed bumps to consider as you try to create and implement shared language.

LANGUAGE THAT ISN’T SHARED IS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE

Our church hosted a Family Camp over the New Year’s Holiday. In the course of planning it, I contacted the camp facility (where I have only been a couple of times). During the course of conversation, I realized there was a breakdown in our communication. I didn’t know everything they thought I knew, and they didn’t know everything I thought they knew. Even things as simple as names of buildings and locations didn’t make sense to someone who had yet to memorize the map. The result? Frustration set in.

Names of buildings are great, but if you don’t understand, then what’s the point? This is why in small towns you get directions in one of two ways: locals talk to each other about the “Jackson house” or “church” street (which isn’t a street name but a description, #truestory) because everyone knows the story behind the names. But locals give directions to outsiders based on landmarks – turn right at the second stoplight, cross the tracks, and turn in at the gate with a water buffalo.

As you seek to create some shared language, always ask yourself first – does my audience understand what this means? If not, explain it and enjoy shared language!

SHARED LANGUAGE CAN CREATE AN US VS. THEM CULTURE

Have you ever been part of a conversation with two other people who are best friends, but you only know them casually? Did you find yourself getting lost in the cracks of inside jokes and only partially told stories? How did you feel?

This is the other danger of shared language. If we are not careful, we create an us vs. them culture. We know the meaning of the secret phrases, but they don’t, so they don’t matter.

As a leader, take it on yourself to become an educator. Invite new people to join you by explaining the things that may not make sense. Build into your culture ways for people to find their place and belong, and watch what happens from there.

Shared language is a powerful tool when used correctly, so learn to use it correctly and watch what unfolds!

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