Some Pain Needs to Be Addressed

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One day I started experiencing sharp pains in my abdomen. They were awful. It hurt to sit. I would be driving along and the pain would hit and almost incapacitate me.

So I ignored it. And eventually it healed itself without me doing anything to address it. Said no one ever.

No, when the pain got bad enough that I couldn’t tolerate it, I did what any normal person would do: I googled it. After one of the diagnoses came back as possibly endometriosis, I gave up and went to the doctor.

The doctor poked around a little bit and diagnosed my problem. We developed a plan of treatment, and within a few days (maybe a week), I was back to normal.

Last week I reflected on how some pain is growth. You can check it out here. Today, I want to touch on the opposite side of the spectrum: some pain needs to be addressed.

I tend to have a very patient personality. Playing the long game is one of my strong suits. So when there’s pain in my leadership, my default is to let it linger hoping it will get better or address itself. Once or twice, it has worked out that way, but more often than not the pain is a symptom of a bigger leadership issue.

Pain points in our ministries or organizations reveal friction, and friction needs to be addressed. But how do you know the difference between growth pain and dangerous pain? Here are three questions to ask to help you identify the difference:

  1. Is the pain a result of inaction on your part? Have you been too passive in casting vision, clarifying roles, or leading the way? Where vision is not clear, there is no unified target to aim for. And when you don’t clarify the target (or at least help clarify the target), everything is a possibility.
  2. Is the pain a result of a toxic personality trait? We need to be careful here not to write people off, but understand that sometimes their behaviors are at the root of the issue. The person who arrogantly pushes against authority, or the person who has deep-seated trust issues. These are issues that are not easily addressed, but that need to be covered.
  3. Is the pain a result of poor leadership on your part? What’s your greatest leadership flaw or struggle? If you can’t answer that, spend some time evaluating. I can point to half a dozen negative situations in my leadership over the past 12 months that result from my greatest leadership struggle. It’s not accidentally going away. So what am I willing to do to address it and grow? The same question goes for you: what are you willing to do to lean into your weakness?

Ultimately, any pain we encounter needs to be diagnosed to find the root cause. Some pain is growth, but some pain needs to be addressed.

What pain in your life needs to be addressed? What are you waiting for?

Some Pain Is Growth

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About 15 months ago I started lifting weights for the first time in my adult life. Nothing too strenuous, but I wanted to develop a healthy lifestyle and thought that was a good step. But not knowing how to really go about it, I recruited a friend.

I’m so grateful for my friend who showed me the ropes. What I’m not grateful for is his approach. I joked early on that he wasn’t happy unless he was miserable after working out. But I’m not sure if it’s a joke…

Ultimately, however, certain pain after a workout is an indication of a good workout. Because sometimes pain means growth.

As we grow in our leadership, we are going to face situations that are annoying and painful. What’s the root of the pain? Good leadership is not void of pain. Good leadership understands the difference between beneficial (and necessary) pain and toxic pain.

So how do you know if pain is growing pain? Here are three questions to help you process growing pains:

  1. Does it make you address something that needs to be addressed? Your pain may result from a weak structure, or unclear communication. Lean into addressing the situation and reap the results later.
  2. Is the pain a result of growth? Maybe what you were doing last year or three years ago worked when what you led was smaller, but as you’ve grown, you need to re-evaluate. Pain because of growth still hurts, but gives you an opportunity to adjust and grow even more!
  3. Will addressing the pain point put you in a better spot? Are you ready to grow as a result of the pain? Push through, do what you need to do, and enjoy the fruit of your labor.

Ultimately, some pain is good pain. Is there a situation you’re walking through now where you need to reframe the pain point from negative to understanding it’s a positive pain? How does that change your approach and mindset?

Development is a Choice

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A lot can happen in 12 months. A lot can not happen in 12 months.

I started this blog in 2017, and wrote consistently for 5+ years. Then, for the past 12+ months, I haven’t written. So, a lot has not happened here in the past 12 months.

For the majority of the past year I was undecided as to whether or not I was on a break or if I had reached the conclusion of the 3QL blog; Until a recent conversation with a mentor where I realized the value of writing these posts.

I grow more as a leader when I’m synthesizing my thoughts into a 300ish word blog post.

Writing forces me to focus. Writing forces me to pay attention for thoughts and ideas that could be new posts. Writing forces creativity. Writing allows me to process situations.

I know the benefits listed above, but what decisions am I going to make as a result?

Here’s the principle: development is a choice. If I’m going to grow in my leadership, there are some choices I need to make. Writing provides that avenue, as does reading, listening, and even watching.

The same is true for you. I know I’ve spent this entire post in a self-indulgent rambling, but I have a point.

Are you choosing to grow in your own leadership development? Are you making a decision each day that will set you up to grow? Are you willing to make such a decision?

Development is different than growth. Growth happens naturally. Watch the weeds in your yard. Watch your waistline. We know that growth can happen without much intentionality. But development is different. The most effective development happens with intentionality.

So how are you being intentional to develop in your leadership?

The 2nd Question You Need to Answer for Leadership Growth

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Last October we had some work done on one of our flower beds. The bushes that were in the planter box were too big and breaking the box, so we had them taken out and replaced with some different plants.

Now, the fact that I can’t tell you what the plants were reveals a shortcoming in my master plan for beautifying my house, and conveniently enough, gives us a framework for today’s post. Funny how that works, right?

Last week I wrote about the first question you need to answer for leadership growth: “is the desired result worth the effort?”

For our planter box, the desired result (keeping the roots of bushes from destroying the box) was worth the effort. But I never asked the next question: am I willing to do what’s necessary to help the replacement plants grow?

The result? I arrive home most days and hope my new plants are just dormant and not dead. But they’re probably dead. I wasn’t willing to consider the effort it would take on my part to make sure the plants grew, which was a pretty low bar.

The same is true in our leadership journeys. Once we decide if the desired result is worth the effort, we stare face to face with the next question: Am I willing to grow as a leader?

This seems simple enough, but the reality is the two questions go hand in hand. Asking one without the other will only provide partial results – your planter box will be saved (1st question) but your new plants will die, OR you won’t actually do anything because you’re willing, but didn’t exert the effort.

Once again, ultimately the decision belongs to you. How will you answer?

The 1st Question You Need to Answer for Leadership Growth

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Do you ever chase mental rabbits? I’m genuinely curious. I *think* other people do this, but I don’t know for certain.

Yesterday, I chased a mental rabbit. But, first, a short preface.

My goal with this blog is simple. It’s the tag line at the top of the page: helping you grow your leadership influence. The framework for that growth is actually remarkably simple: the three questions. I truly believe if you 1) learn to ask and answer the three questions, and 2) teach others to ask and answer the three questions, you will grow your leadership influence.

So much of what I write is geared towards student ministers (who actually don’t read this very often, #fail), but I honestly believe anyone willing to grow can benefit from the ideas and concepts I share.

Ultimately, however, whoever you are and however you found this post, every single one of us has to answer one question before we embark on a leadership journey. Whether you’re debating whether or not you need to take steps to grow your own leadership, or whether or not you need to take steps to grow leaders around you, there is one question that should come before all other questions. Are you ready?

Is the desired result (leadership growth) worth the effort?

We can never grow our leadership influence in the long run without intentionality. It just doesn’t happen that way. No one stumbles into success. No team ever trips into winning a championship. Success takes intentionality. Growth requires a mindset shift.

So, is growing in your own leadership development worth the effort? Guess who gets to answer that question? YOU!

Or, maybe, you know the answer and you’re trying to decide if you should start developing the people around you, whether it’s teenagers or adults, or both. The same question applies. Is investing in the growth and development of potential leaders around you worth the effort? Surprise surprise, there’s only one person who gets to make that call: YOU!

If I may be so bold, let me nudge you in the direction of yes. The desired result (leadership growth for you and those you influence) is absolutely worth the effort. But you wouldn’t expect me to answer any other way, right?

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