What’s Wrong With a Temporary Fence?

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We have a great house and an even better backyard. We were fortunate to find it and made an offer the day it was listed, as did quite a few others.

But as with any house, there were a few downsides. One of them: only 3 sides of our back yard have a fence. It wasn’t a problem for the first year we lived here, because our dog was accustomed to not having a fence at our previous houses.

But then COVID hit and we decided we might be interested in adding a dog. But we needed a fence to close off our back yard.

But we also knew we had some work coming up soon. So this good ole farm boy did what he knows best–buy some T posts and get to work.

My fence is far from glorious, but it gets the job done for the time being. And best of all, it leaves our backyard accessible for work.

It was a temporary fix, not a permanent one. The permanent fence will come after the work is finished.

Leadership presents a similar issue. If you’re like me, I struggle to get started because I want permanent from the get-go. But sometimes temporary gets the ball rolling, and we add structure down the road.

Sometimes, however, your temporary fix ages out and you need to trash it completely or finish the job.

So, where are you today? Pick one area and ask yourself: do I need to just get the ball rolling and find a temporary approach? Or has my temporary approach outlived its usefulness and now needs to be rebuilt?

Whatever the answer, act on it today.

Check It Out: The Value of Mission

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My friends over at Horizon Resources have started blogging more and more. Something they posted a few weeks back ties into so much of what I’m trying to communicate here, so I thought today I would share part of it, or you can go ahead and click here to read the whole post.

When I first started the process of developing my personal mission statement, I was a bit cynical. So maybe we have something in common. 

My cynicism peaked when I thought, if having a mission statement is so important, then Jesus must have had one. From there I set out to determine what it was. Here are a few things I learned…

Click here to read the rest, it will be worth your time. And then, spend some time using that framework for developing your own personal mission statement!

2 Ingredients for a Great Leader

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I’ve never done this before. What follows is a post I wrote in November of 2018. The last three weeks, these words have been on my mind almost continually, so I thought I would share them again. I hope they challenge you.

Have you ever noticed some people look at situations differently than you?

A few years ago, I heard a radio personality talk about how science has proven women and men look at cleanliness differently. Women actually see dirt more easily than men. It’s not that they have some sort of super vision, but their awareness of filth is higher. This means as a husband, I need to adjust my standards of clean in order to be a blessing to my wife.

This happens in developing student leaders as well. So many times, as youth ministers, we fall into the trap of thinking a student has to meet a certain level of leadership ability in order to take on the mantle. But I would disagree.

In fact, as I have been working with student leaders more intensely over the past 3 years, I have noticed 2 criteria which are critical to developing successful student leaders.

1. OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE

I cannot think of a single situation where anyone has led without first making the most of an opportunity. In fact, without opportunity, nothing happens. Where there is no opportunity, there is no movement.

Opportunities are simple, but it may require you changing how you view situations. The old saying goes “If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” While the intent behind the saying may be negative, the truth is opportunity opens up when we shift our perception.

Every time you meet with students, there is an opportunity for leadership. My question for you is: are you making the most of the opportunities around you to allow students to grow and develop as leaders.

2. WILLINGNESS TO SERVE

The other part of developing student leaders, and the most critical, is willingness. If a student is not willing to take intentional steps, any effort you exert will be diminished.

A student’s willingness to serve is imperative to their own development. But if you think about it, this concept is a no brainer.

As an adult, if you need to lose weight or cut back on salt, no one else can make that decision for you. It’s a decision you have to make. The people around you can provide opportunities, but it is up to you to make the most of the opportunities.

Students who are willing to serve, are more likely to grow as leaders. Students who are unwilling to serve will hit a ceiling of their own making.

The bottom line is this: if you can find a student who is willing to serve, give them an opportunity to serve and lead, and watch the impact they begin to make!

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You'll Figure it Out

You’ll Figure It Out

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Did you know I play bass guitar?

I got my first guitar in junior high and learned to play over the following few years. Who am I kidding, I’m still learning to play.

But for Christmas my senior year of high school, my dad bought me a bass guitar. Ever a pragmatist, he decided to buy me a “real” bass so that when/if/when I decided to give up on it, since I was a guitar player, the bass would have a good resale value. That meant my first bass was a Fender Jazz Bass.

But there was something he didn’t expect: I’m a pack rat, so I never get rid of anything. So I kept my bass. I learned one 8 bar blues bass line that made me sound like I knew what I was doing, but never really had occasion to play bass.

Fast forward a couple years. I was serving at my first church as the youth minister. Even though I was in charge of youth, I helped with music where I could. Then, with the arrival of a new music minister, something changed.

Our new music minister was incredibly gifted musically, but had cut his teeth playing bass guitar. So, he started teaching me how to play. But his approach was different.

I generally have a pretty poor memory, but I’m pretty certain we never sat down for a formal “lesson”. It was always learning “on the fly”.

I still have a picture in my head of one morning. He was on guitar. I was on bass. It was the opening song for the morning. Right before he started playing, I remember telling him I didn’t know the song. And his words continue to ring true: you’ll figure it out.

And that’s what I had to do. Sink or swim. And I sank, a lot. Until I learned to swim.

Playing with him I learned to anticipate the changes, to play with the rhythm, to find the groove, and so much more.

His leadership approach is something I occasionally employ today. Sometimes the best tool for growth is immersion.

Does that mean it’s going to be perfect? Nope.

Does that means it’s going to be flawless? Nope.

Does that mean it’s going to be memorable? Very likely, one way or the other.

There is someone in your sphere of influence who needs an opportunity to sink or swim. There is someone you are leading who needs a challenge they feel they cannot meet.

So I have two questions for you today: 1) who is it? and 2) are you willing to step back for the sake of their growth?

The Conductor

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I’m going to deviate today. Thank you for indulging me.

If you’ve been around here very long you know that I value very highly my farming heritage. I have shared close to 30 lessons from the farm along the way.

The reality is I was fortunate to not only have a father in the ag industry, but a heritage of it. Both sets of grandparents lived (and worked) agricultural lives.

That meant holidays were spent more often than not in the country. Summer trips at my grandparents were a staple of my childhood, and something that now I am incredibly grateful to have experienced.

One of my favorite memories, and one I couldn’t wait to share with my daughters as they grew older, was going to my paternal grandparents. Hot cocoa, grilling over charcoal, German shepherds, Louis L’Amour books, vintage couches, hot tubs, feeding cattle off the tailgates, and unwanted (and unwarranted) naps merely scratch the surface in summarizing my favorite memories at “the ranch”.

Except for the best memory. And that was the trains.

My granddad loved model trains. He loved them so much, in fact, that he had a “layout” that took up a two car garage. (Side note: I don’t know if “layout” is the right word, but it was basically the world created by his trains, complete with buildings, cars, mountains, carnivals, railyards, cattle, trucks, forrests, and rubber roads. This wasn’t a train running a circle around a tree. It was massive.)

And to any young boy growing up, trains are a magical experience. The roar of the engine running until the power stops. The aroma of electricity surging through the miniature machines (Yes, electricity has a smell, and it’s not toast). The sheer imagination of towns coming to life, and the hours on end that could be spent getting lost in a world so different from our own.

And there stood my granddad. The conductor. The orchestrator of it all. It never occurred to me that my granddad loved to play with trains. They were just there. He was the one in charge. But he was the one who loved to share the experience with me. It was a shared experience for us. It was one of the first things I showed my oldest the first time we visited his house. And something my girls still know about him.

The conductor passed away this week. As I sit and reflect on my memories of him, I’m humbled. I’m overcome with emotions. I’m heartbroken. I’m grateful.

He was not a perfect man. No one is. But he was my granddad. And he will be missed.

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