It’s Time to Start Somewhere

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I started the Three Question Leadership Blog 4 years ago. I thought I would spend the next few weeks sharing some of my first posts, in their entirety, here. Whether you’re new or have been with me all along, I hope you find these concepts applicable.

I am a thinker. I have a terrible tendency to be able to argue both sides, even when they don’t need to be argued. Because of my propensity to think, I joke that I spend 90% of my time thinking about what I could do, and 10% actually doing it.

Thinking about things all the time has benefits. Often, I can think through a situation and find a new way of looking at it. I enjoy hearing how other people think so I can see if there is something I can learn from how they process and proceed.

There are downsides to thinking about things 90% of the time–you actually only act on what you’re thinking 10%. That leads to plenty of mental development, but very little real life occurrence.

That’s where the principle for today’s post came into my life. I don’t know if you’re wired like me, but I think there is a little truth in what I’m about to say. I’ve made this my new mantra, especially when there’s something I would much rather just think about doing than actually doing.

Are you ready? Here it is: Start Somewhere.

Sounds simple enough, right? You would be amazed at how many times it has helped me move from thinking to action.

For example, I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of a student leadership team. I’ve tried one at past churches with moderate success, but never had a set structure I wanted to follow.

Where I serve now, it’s pretty fun to look back at the growth of our student leadership team. The first two or three years was just a trip at the beginning of summer. Then, two summers ago we added monthly meetings. This year, we’ve added weekly meetings and have really started to hit our stride.

But we would not be where we are today if I hadn’t started somewhere.

The crazy thing about starting somewhere is your start is not your final product. I never start something with the mindset that it is going to be perfect from the beginning. But, if I want a program, event, relationship, or opportunity to reach full potential, it will not happen until I start somewhere.

You may not be wired this way. Maybe you spend 90% of your time doing things and only 10% thinking. (If so, I think we would make a great team.)  Your “start somewhere” may be to put a little more thought into something before you start it.

Maybe you have a habit of starting things and never finishing them. So your “start somewhere” would be to pick one project and actually finish it.

I am not saying my way is the only way. I am asking, though, for you to evaluate yourself. Are you more of a thinker or a doer? Could the principle of “start somewhere” apply in your life? If so, where?

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Don’t Let Someone’s Character Surprise You

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I started the Three Question Leadership Blog 4 years ago. I thought I would spend the next few weeks sharing some of my first posts, in their entirety, here. Whether you’re new or have been with me all along, I hope you find these concepts applicable.

I have a morning routine. I make coffee before I do almost anything else. Sometimes I prep the coffee maker the night before, and sometimes I have to prep and brew in the same motion.

But do you want to know something that has never happened? I have never pushed brew on the coffee maker and watched the coffee pot fill with soda. Why is that? Because the coffee maker does what it is made to do — make coffee.

Over the years I have learned a similar lesson about people — I cannot let myself be surprised when someone does something that lines up with who they have been while I have known them.

If a person repeatedly shows up late for an event or a meeting, I cannot allow myself to be bothered or surprised when they show up late for an event or a meeting.

If someone constantly seems uninterested in what is being said or what is happening around them, I cannot let myself get angry when they act uninterested or uninvolved in what I’m saying.

If someone regularly causes troubles by talking about people behind their back, I cannot take it personally when they do the same thing to me.

There are things I do that people should not be surprised when it happens.

Every one of us have life experiences that have led us to where we are. Our behaviors are a culmination of our life experiences and our decisions to that point. We have not become who we are today without the influence of who we were yesterday.

Does this mean we cannot change? Absolutely not. Ask the person who did not go to the dentist for decades, but now has become a dental advocate. Or the person who had to have emergency heart surgery and now is one of the healthiest people you know.

We can always change, but we cannot always change those around us.

So, how do you find the balance between having no expectations of change in others, and trying to be a catalyst of that change? Get to know them, show grace, and encourage them along the way.

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Adapt and Grow

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One of the things I admire the most about my dad is his ability to adapt. He has farmed all of his life, but he hasn’t done the same thing all the way through. Just in my memory he has raised cotton, hay grazer, wheat, milo, stocker calves, cattle pairs, feeders, and so much more, but never all at the same time.

I’ve heard him talk about trying to survive financially in the 80’s, and that he was doing everything he could to try to make money. The struggle made him better in the long run, but I’m grateful I was pretty clueless about it.

When we settle for a “this is who I am and what I do” mentality, then we miss a key element for growth–adaptation.

I think all of us would agree that new situations stretch us, and in turn, cause us to grow. But new situations are the easy example. How do you continue to grow when you’ve been somewhere for a while?

Continue to adapt.

I love leadership. I love helping students (and adults) grow in their leadership influence. I even have a pretty nifty framework to help introduce the concept of servant leadership. But even with all of that, if I stop adapting what I’m doing, then I will stop growing. And I never want to stop growing.

So, take a minute right now and think about your situation. What needs to be adapted? What changes need to be made? What adjustments do you need to address?

If you’re in ministry, what skill set do you need to strengthen? Organization? Time management? People skills? Teamwork? Beard trimming (looking at you, Youth Pastors)?

If you want to maintain a lifestyle of growth, then consistently be on the lookout for ways to grow. And grow.

Ready. Set. Grow.

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When I started this blog four years ago, I had years and years of thoughts stored up, so writing was pretty easy. Now, many of my thoughts are real time reflections on what’s happening around me.

That’s why on Thursday, after writing about the secret super power, I chuckled to myself when I heard John Maxwell say the following: “Experience isn’t the best teacher. Evaluated experience is the best teacher.”

This is true all around us.

I’m a better communicator when I evaluate my teaching.

I’m a better parent when I evaluate my parenting.

I’m a better event planner when I evaluate the events I planned.

I’m a better leader when I evaluate my leadership.

I started writing this blog four years ago because I believe the youth ministry world needs adults who are investing in student leaders, and raising up student leaders can be simpler than we think.

I keep writing this blog because not only do I believe in the power and potential of student leaders, but because I believe everyone around us benefits as we grow from leadership.

So, here’s my question for you today: what experience are you evaluating? How are you growing?

Fill in the blanks for you: I’m a better _________________ when I evaluate ______________.

Ready. Set. Grow.

Why You Need to Say It Again

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This week I encountered a scary scenario. Do you ever begin reading a sentence and try to finish the thought in your head before finishing the…sandwich?

Well, that happened to me. I was reading something, and I honestly don’t remember the end of the sentence, but I remember where my thoughts went, and it was somewhat alarming.

The idea was simply this: if you want to know how you’re doing at casting vision (or clarifying the win), ask your leaders what they’re aiming for.

This bothered me for two reasons. First, I tend to constantly run different scenarios through my head, and I generally try to bounce them off people to see what the response may be. I do that without the intent of being committed to the direction or thought, but as a way of helping me process or see roadblocks. But the by-product is a pasture full of ideas. They all have room to graze and grow, but they’re not easily accessible.

Second, I don’t know that I’ve cast a clear and concise vision for the incredible volunteers I get to lead. In part because I’ve not built a clear and concise vision capable of being cast. That’s something that needs correction.

So, take a moment right now and ask yourself this question: If you were going to ask someone you lead what their goal is, how would they answer? More importantly, would their answer match yours?

That’s where the redundancy of leadership comes into play. As leaders, we have to continually repeat ourselves, but with purpose. Repeat your vision so clearly and concisely that everyone will know why you exist. If you think you’ve repeated enough, keep repeating. Trust me.

The moment we as leaders stop casting vision, we stop communicating a clear direction.

Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself today, but make sure it’s something worth repeating.

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