You Can Do This

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Leadership can be difficult.

Knowing what to say and when to say it.

Knowing what to do and when to do it.

Knowing who to recruit and how to ask.

Knowing when to speak and when to stay silent.

Knowing when to correct and when to encourage.

Knowing when to navigate a season and when to change.

If you’re trying to expand your leadership influence, you likely resonate with at least one of these. And that’s perfectly natural.

Regardless of the tension you’re navigating, or the season you’re walking through, let me offer this: hang in there. You can do this.

The call to leadership is a call to growth-both of ourselves and of those we lead.

But growth takes time.

Be intentional. Be faithful. Move forward at a steady pace and you’ll be amazed at how you can grow.

Grow Thyself

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What are you doing to grow yourself as a leader?

There are a few themes I tend to repeat here on 3QL, and the need to grow always makes the list. Because if we don’t grow, how can we expect the people around us to grow?

One of the ways I try to keep myself growing is by consuming books. I’m in the middle of 3-4 books right now (yes, I have commitment issues), but I want to share one that has sparked my interest greatly.

Carey Nieuwhof is a thought leader when it comes to leadership. If you aren’t subscribed to his blog or following him on social, I would encourage you to do that right away. Carey experienced burn out a few years ago, has been able to recover in a healthy way, and just released a book titled At Your Best sharing how he rescheduled his day to increase his productivity. It’s been a fascinating read and extremely thought provoking exercise for me over the past couple weeks. I thought I would pass it along.

Click here to buy At Your Best from Amazon.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes so far:

“Workaholism is, after all, the most rewarded addiction in the nation.”

“Stop saying you don’t have the time. Start admitting you didn’t make the time.”

“Balanced people don’t change the world. Passionate people do.”

“If you don’t declare a finish line to your work, your body will.”

Check it out, and see what happens!

The Power of an Aha Moment

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Let’s talk about “Aha” moments. Those moments where someone says something and you almost instinctively push back, only to realize they’re right.

One of my aha moments came about 10 years ago. I was serving bi-vocationally at the church where I grew up. We were seeing some good growth, but we hit a bit of a ceiling. Then one day while listening to a podcast, probably while riding a 4-wheeler, I heard Josh Griffin say something to the effect of: 30 kids is about the max a youth minister will be able to sustain by himself.

To clarify: he was saying that if I was going to do ministry by myself, the biggest number I would be able to sustain would be about 30. We might balloon over that, but reality is we would never successfully grow past that.

And I was living it. The ministry had grown to about 30, but had hit a ceiling. I had my “aha” moment, and decided it was time to make a change.

So I started looking for an adult to recruit. That’s actually a very difficult thing to do in a small town, but I set out to do it. And I found someone willing to help.

Fast forward a few years, and at the peak of the ministry at my last church, we had a solid team of adults investing in and loving on students. In fact, the success we saw would not have happened without those adults.

Now, today, a couple years into a new role, I’ve spent a significant amount of time and energy investing in and encouraging adults, and we are set for growth.

Here’s the point: leadership development means recruiting and retaining.

This comes very naturally and easy to some people, but to others (like me), it takes continual, intentional effort. But it’s worth the effort. And more than that, it’s a blessing to the people we invite for the journey.

So, youth ministers: who can you recruit today? What are you waiting for?

3 Questions to Help You Grow as a Leader

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Earlier this week, I wrote about how our leadership development begins with us. I can’t make you grow, and you can’t make me grow. Ultimately, the decision is a personal one, and I hope one you’re willing to make. As you seek to grow in your leadership, here are three questions which I think you should be able to provide an answer.

  1. What was the last book on leadership you consumed? I chose the word “consumed” because I’m a little quirky. I don’t always read a book. In fact, I often find myself listening to audiobooks, with one caveat. For me, I don’t engage with audiobooks as well as I do with written word. But either way, there’s something about exploring leadership ideas and principles that opens our understanding and challenges us. So, again, I ask what was the last book on leadership you consumed? Here are a few of mine:

2. What was the last discussion about leadership you had? This goes a few different ways. When was the last time you went to someone with stronger leadership skills and asked questions? When was the last time you went to a leadership peer and asked questions? When was the last time you brought a less experienced leader alongside you and asked questions? Chances are if you’re not having discussions, at least occasionally, about leadership growth and development, then it’s probably not happening. Change that.

3. What was the last observation about leadership you had? I may be a little biased here, but I think if we’re not looking for leadership lessons and principles around us, then we are going to miss too many opportunities for growth. Pay attention to your own leadership. Note your flaws and your wins. Sometimes the best lessons we learn are ones we observe. Just this week I was reminded of a principle I observed over 10 years ago–and it’s still true!

Once again, at the end of the day, you’re responsible for your growth. What are you doing to grow? What are you going to do?

Leadership Growth Begins with…

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I’ve been on an interesting leadership journey the past 12 months.

It all started with an audio book. During the summer of COVID shutdowns, I had just finished our biggest event, and was looking to unwind a little bit. So, naturally, I stepped outside to my grill. As is my habit, I started listening to a book. But I didn’t want to just listen to a book, I wanted to engage with a book. So when the author talked about hitting pause and filling out an assessment, I did just that.

And I was shocked. So shocked, in fact, that I immediately bought the physical version of the book (because I know I engage better through a physical version). I invited a few friends to read through the book with me, and the five of us proceeded to know out a section per week for the next six weeks.

Running concurrently, I joined a leadership network with the intent of trying to grow in my own leadership. At some point, I got to jump on a call with the coach and he offered some insights that proved invaluable, practical, and inspirational.

And then I got intentional. Over the past year, I have walked side by side at least a dozen different leaders (most of them not even students!), seeking to invest in and inspire them. Some of these relationships are ongoing, and some are more seasonal. But in the process, I learned one thing: Leadership growth begins with me.

More specifically, my leadership growth begins with me.

If I want others to grow, I have to be willing to grow. If I want to make an impact in the lives of other people, I have to be willing to put forth the effort to grow myself.

The same is true for you. What are you doing to grow as a leader? What are you reading? To what are you listening? With whom are you surrounding yourself? What opportunities are you pursuing? How intentional are you being about growing? How intentional are you willing to be about growing?

At the end of the day, your greatest influence is always over yourself. What are you doing to lead yourself? What change do you need to make. What next step can you take to help?

I don’t usually do this, but if you’ve read this: I want you to comment your answer to one of the questions above. It can be on the blog, on Facebook, or a reply on Twitter. But I want to know what you’re doing, so that maybe it will help me grow, too. If you’re looking to make a change, I’d love to help encourage you along the way.

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