Shared Language

Unlock The Power of Shared Language

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I’ve always wanted to go to a place where you have to know a secret knock and pass phrase to get in. You know, “Open Sesame” or something like that.

The allure is having to know the secret phrase. We all love knowing something others don’t. There’s comfort in it. There’s unity among those who know.

Shared language is a powerful thing. I’m a huge fan of developing memorable and repeatable phrases: things that stick with you for a while.

Even here on 3QL, I have a few ideas that I cover repeatedly:

If you’ve been with me for a while, you probably recognize those phrases. Sometimes, even in conversation, they will come up and we will nod knowingly because we both understand them. If you hear me say something about the “the three questions”, you know what I’m talking about.

But if you’re new here, those phrases don’t have the same power. They are just a collection of words with your own assigned meaning.

That’s why, in leadership, it pays to create shared language. Leadership requires the casting of a compelling vision, and shared language helps keep that vision fresh.

What shared language are you using in your context? Is there anything you’re saying that prepares those you lead for action? How can you leverage shared language to your benefit?

One last thought: never assume shared language automatically means shared definitions. Sometimes we “fake it ’til we make it” to create the appearance of understanding. But your job as a leader is to continually and constantly cast the vision, to articulate the shared definition, and to help everyone get on the same page.

It’s not easy, but it’s imperative. Lean into shared language today!

Want to Make 2021 Even Better?

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My church hosted an event this past weekend. I ended up being the guy making most of the decisions, and as such, I spent a lot of time mentally evaluating how things were going, how I was doing, and what I would do differently with time and knowledge.

All of that is great, except if I never write it down, so much of it goes away completely.

That’s why I’m such a fan of taking time to review things. As a church leader, it pays to review events, and makes the next one that much better.

But as a person, every year around this time, I set back a little bit of time to review the previous year.

2020 was monumental, to say the least. But at the beginning of the shutdown, and throughout, my mantra was simple: this could be one of the worst things for us as individuals, or it could be one of the best.

Let’s set aside the social impact of the shutdown in April and May. Think for a moment about yourself: how did you grow in that time? Did you maintain that growth for the rest of 2020? Are you a better person for how you spent that time?

This week, I want to give you something. A simple gift to help you evaluate 2020 and dominate 2021. There’s really nothing magical about the gift, but if you take the time to work through it and answer the questions, I think you’ll be pleased with what you walk away with.

But here’s the catch. It’s for subscribers. If you’re signed up and receive 3QL emails in your inbox each week, then on Friday, you’ll find the gift waiting for you.

If you haven’t signed up, then click here to subscribe!

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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