Be Careful Who Speaks Into Your Life

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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.

For the record, one of the regular parts of what I’m going to try to write about are little lessons I’ve learned along the way.

This semester I have the fortune of having an intern, and every week we sit down for what I call “incoherent ramblings”. Often these are going to be more about things I’ve learned along the way instead of current lessons I’m learning.

Today, our incoherent rambling centers on the people who speak into our life.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. – Proverbs 27:6

When I was in Seminary, we had a guest lecturer come into a class and share the following advice: Every minister needs three people in their life. First, they need a Paul–someone to mentor them. Second, they need a Timothy–someone they mentor. Last, they need a Barnabas–someone walking alongside and encouraging them.

While that advice has proven true, and would undoubtedly provide a great subject for a blog post, I have learned over the years we need to be selective about who we let speak into our lives.

Surround yourself with people who never challenge you to grow, or who never see something in you which you cannot see,  and you will never improve.

Surround yourself with people who are incapable of understanding your situation, and the advice they give will never help.

Surround yourself with people who only see negatives and wrongs, and you will begin to see things through their perspective.

Surround yourself with people who have an agenda, and you will simply become a means to an end.

There is another option. As we learn to guard who speaks into our lives, something begins to happen: we are able to realize when someone is using us for position or authority. We begin to see when someone is looking out for themselves, and not for us. We begin to understand there may be more motivation behind an action than we realized.

But, when we surround ourselves with the right people who speak the right things into our lives, the difference is clear.

Surround yourself with people who care about you growing into the best minster/leader/parent you can be, and you will begin to grow.

Surround yourself with people who fix their eyes on Christ and not on the problems surrounding you, and you will begin to do the same.

Surround yourself with people who have a heart for serving, and you will begin to have a heart for serving.

I have men and women in my life who make a greater impact than they will ever know. They encourage me, they correct me, they guide me, and they even tell me things I do not want to hear, but I know their words can be trusted.

Learn to be selective about who gets to speak into your life.

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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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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.

Willingness Matters

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I feel like there are a few topics I come back to often here on the blog. But, my habit is to process what leadership lesson is on my mind, and today it’s what follows:

I would rather have a potential leader who is incredibly willing and somewhat talented than a potential leader who is incredibly talented and somewhat willing. Here’s why.

Willingness matters.

Someone, when asked to help or participate, who responds with trepidation, will move forward with trepidation. Someone who responds with enthusiasm, will move forward with enthusiasm.

So would you rather work with a hesitant person or an enthusiastic person?

The same goes for developing leaders. Enthusiasm is contagious, in a good way. Skepticism is contagious in a bad way.

This is true for students and for adults. Someone who is willing to serve will make a greater impact than someone who is hesitant.

Because willingness matters.

So what does this mean for you? Are you surrounding yourself with enthusiastic people? Are you looking for students to empower as leaders who are willing?

Do you agree with my initial thought? Is willingness more important than skill? How have you seen this play out in your life and experience?

One last thought, the ultimate jackpot is willingness AND talent. They are rare, but when you get to that point, leadership gets way more fun.

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