Here’s to Mile Markers

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We all have mile markers in life. We have moments and memories that we will look back on as pivotal transitions, or just simply moments in time worth remembering. When the Hebrew people crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land, they set up stones to serve as reminders. Funny how that works.

I got a notification over the weekend that this site (Three Question Leadership) passed 10,000 views. Now, I don’t know if that’s a lot or a little. I have a hunch that four years to reach 10k is a little slow, but I’m grateful to hit it at all. Five years ago, I never would have imagined I would blog on such a consistent basis.

Let me take a moment to say thank you. Thank you for those of you who are regular readers and click each week. Thank you to the random visitor who may find this post later down the road. Thank you to anyone who has ever shared a post. Thank you to the people who comment or send me an encouraging text after reading a post. Thank you for walking with me. Thank you for indulging my ramblings.

What mile markers have recently passed in your life? Did you adequately celebrate them? Did you adequately grieve? Do you need to take some time to celebrate or grieve today? What’s holding you back?

In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite posts from the past 4+ years (the ones I think are worth understanding):

Enjoy! And here’s to the next 10k views.

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.

The Legacy We Leave

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Anniversaries are interesting. It’s been a year since my grandfather passed away. I’ve found myself reflecting a lot on the past year, on his legacy, and on how my life is impacted by his legacy.

Legacies are a funny thing. As much as we may not think about it, our legacies aren’t solely written after we pass away (or leave). Our legacies are the continuation of the story we live each day. That means you and I are writing our legacies today.

What legacy are you writing today?

Last year I wrote a reflection on the passing of my grandfather. You can read a snippet below, or go ahead and click here to read the whole thing.

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.

Go here for the rest.

The Why of Leadership Development

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I’m going to go out on a limb and confess something today. I don’t have everything figured out.

When it comes to leadership and leadership development, I feel like I have way more blanks than answers. I look at my own development and see where I fall short. I look at how I’m developing students and see where I fall short. I look at how I’m developing adults and see where I fall short.

And in that moment I’m faced with a decision that I think everyone of us faces: what comes next? What’s my response going to be to admitting my seemingly insurmountable shortfalls? What am I willing to do about the need that I see?

I’m going to do something. It may be the right thing. It may be the wrong thing. It may be just in time, or way too early. But the worst thing I can do is no-thing.

Leadership development is one of the most challenging things I do: It’s fluid. It’s elusive. It’s not easy. It’s exhausting. It’s frustrating. It’s never fully done.

So why do I stick with it?

Because it’s also one of the most rewarding things I do.

When a student catches the vision of the influence they have in a moment, something powerful happens. When they step up to realize the difference they can make in the lives of their peers, classmates, teammates, coworkers, parents, and teachers, lives begin to change.

So today I ask you a simple question: What are you doing to develop leaders around you? My context puts me in touch with students (and adults), so that’s my focus. What’s yours? Who in your realm of influence needs a leader cheering them on? What are you waiting for?

Who Sets the Target?

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When my girls were younger and in the “I don’t want to eat all of my food stage”, I would try to trick them. When they got to what they thought would be the end of their meal, I would say, “why don’t you take three more bites?”. From there, I would repeat the challenge until their food was gone. Eventually they caught on, but the effectiveness was surprising.

We had different targets. Their target was to finish eating as quick as possible and get back to playing. My target was their health.

As leaders, I don’t think we have to trick people into accomplishing a task, but I do think our role becomes one of setting the target, or inviting people into the conversation as we seek to set the target.

If we as leaders don’t at least help define what we’re aiming for, then the people we lead will decide instead. Letting someone else decide the target may not always be a bad thing, but you always run the risk that they will choose something that is actually the opposite of the progress of the ministry.

If our goal is to grow disciples, then having the best video games may not be the win.

If our goal is to impact our community, then having the cleanest space may not be the win.

If our goal is to lead people to worship, then having the best a/v system may not be the win.

But unless we take the time to communicate the target for which we’re aiming, we run the risk of wasted effort.

Andy Stanley talks about this as “Clarifying the Win” (you can listen to a conversation on this here, and it’s worth your time!).

At the end of the day, you have been placed in a leadership position for a reason. Take the necessary steps to make sure everyone you lead is on the same page and moving in the same direction. this happens most naturally by making sure you choose, clarify, and communicate the target at which you’re aiming.

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