Lessons from the Farm: Acknowledging Influences

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Well, here we are again. April at 3QL means I dig into my past and bring some leadership lessons from the farm. If you’re new, or if you’d just like a refresher, you can see some of the lessons from the farm posts from the past by clicking here, here, here, and here. Now, let’s move forward!

Growing up in an agricultural family, I spent a lot of time on my dad’s land. We lived in town, so anytime we needed to meet up, or to work on something, we never went to “the field”. Every field had a name. Seems simple enough, right?

Here are a few of the field names I grew up saying:

  • The Hangar Field
  • The 90
  • The Triangle
  • The Shelter Belt
  • North of the Twin Windmills
  • South of the Barn
  • The Adobe House Field
  • The Big Field

Now, look back over that list. Some names are incredibly descriptive, if you know where the landmarks are. North of the Twin Windmills only makes sense if you know where the Twin Windmills are. Same with South of the Barn. But those are easy enough, because those still structures still stood during my lifetime.

A couple, however, are a little trickier. I’ve never walked in the Adobe House the field was named after, because it wasn’t there. Oh, and the Hangar in the Hangar field? Nope. I’m pretty sure it was gone shortly before my arrival in the 80s.

Yet those fields have those names. There’s actually a new hangar, but it’s not in the Hangar Field. Go figure.

On the farm, once something has a name, it carries that name for decades. There’s history wrapped into the name. Memories of each field evoke emotions.

In leadership, we have to be aware of the unspoken influences and memories tied to the organizations we lead. Understanding where something (or someone) originates provides insight, and allows forward movement.

Is there something around you that you need to stop and consider the story behind. You never know, you may find some beauty in the story behind the name.

Or, it may be called the Big Field because it’s a big field. You never know until you ask.

Train Student Leaders

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Last week I shared a couple thoughts I had about developing student leaders during this unprecedented experience. Today, I’m executing one of those ideas.

I’m doing an online leadership workshop for my small group of student leaders. Just to recap: they applied to be on the team in January, and we started meeting twice a week: a follow up to our midweek program (about 10 minutes max), and each Sunday before small groups for prayer.

The follow up meetings are something I’ve done (and valued) in the past, but as we got a few weeks into the process, I realized the question I was asking had no real frame of reference with this group. So today I’m teaching the 3 questions over a zoom call.

I’m a little apprehensive about the delivery method. Teaching to a computer screen, even if I can see everyone else, still feels like I’m talking to myself. The content is going to be pretty simple, and I’ve taught this multiple times before (not to mention blogging about it), but again, the delivery is going to be most interesting.

At the end of the day, my biggest goal is to introduce these students to some shared language. If we can all get on the same page and move forward with it, then it will be interesting to see where we go from here.

So, what are you doing to train student leaders? If you were going to set up a Zoom call and do an online leadership workshop/training, how would you approach it? What are you waiting for?

Even if you don’t work with student leaders, how can you gather and train those you influence in the coming days?

3 Tips to Navigate an Unclear Future

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We are living in a strange time. I have so many thoughts and questions about what is happening all around us, but so few answers.

I would not say I’m worried about COVID19, but more worried about the implications it carries for the next few weeks. Every day for the past 7 days has been a roller coaster of emotion, and I feel like we are only seeing the beginning.

So, what does that mean for leadership? Here are three things I’m keeping out front as we navigate the coming weeks:

  1. Learn from others. One of my favorite ways of leading is to learn from what other people are doing. What is working? What is not working? What sounds like a contextual win and what would make sense for my setting? If I can come out of the 2nd quarter of 2020 having picked up some leadership lessons, then I’ll be better for it moving forward.
  2. Swing big. One of my favorite things about Youth Ministry is the ease with which we can introduce changes. Students live in a world of change, so they seem to be a little less resistant than adults. So, that means we have an opportunity to swing big in the next few weeks. We can try things we would have never considered, all for the sake of staying connected. As I process options, this post comes to mind.
  3. Be intentional. If gathering together is one of the strengths of the church as we know it (and I think it is), we have to be intentional in the days ahead. We have to be intentional about maintaining connections. We have to be intentional about checking in on those in our sphere of influence. We have to be intentional to nurture leadership in those around us.

At the end of the day, we will likely look back on this time of our lives and always ask if we handled our opportunities well. I hope both of us remember these days as something great in spite of the circumstances.

What are you doing to make sure you’re still prepared and ready moving forward?

Think Trails, Not Highways

Think Trails, Not Highways

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Sometimes when I write, I formulate ideas as I go. Okay, maybe a lot of the time.

That’s why last Thursday’s post (Cast the Vision, Not the Path) has been replaying in my mind. Do I truly think for leadership, it’s beneficial to set the destination and let someone else reach it?

Let me rephrase the concept for today’s post: Think trails, not highways.

Growing up, I spent countless days and hours on my dad’s farm. We lived in town, so every time we went to the farm we started the same way: out of the drive way, turn right on the highway that led to the barn. That path only changed when our destination was different.

Once we got on the farm, however, there was no pavement. There were no highways. There were dirt paths worn down over the years.

But even those dirt paths had variations. Pot holes in pavement are simply mud puddles on a dirt road. So guess what? You drive around mud puddles, creating a new path.

Only once or twice during my life working on the farm did we drastically change the paths to get to our destination, but we had that freedom. We knew where we were going, so how we got there was simply a matter of efficiency.

When we think trails not highways in leadership, we understand the destination plays the key role. As leaders, we have to set a clear vision as to what we want, then allow those we lead to choose the path, to some extent. And that can be scary.

Time and time again in my life, I have experienced the fear and anxiety of entrusting someone with a task, sometimes regretting the decision as they are beating out their own path, and then to realize at the end, the result was what I hoped.

Not everyone sees the same trail as me. And that’s okay.

But we have to cast a clear and compelling destination. If we leave room for ambiguity on the destination, those we lead run the risk of getting lost in the weeds.

So, what vision are you needing to cast? What destination do you need to set out for those around you? Are you willing to think trails not highways?

Flashback Friday #5

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One concept I’ve written about captures my mind almost more than all the others, and it’s today’s flashback.

The Horizon of Possibility is something I love thinking about, and something I use constantly. This week, in fact, the concept has been used in at least two conversations, and I love it!

Before I dive too deep, click here and check it out!

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