What’s Your Rhythm?

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I served at my last church for almost 7 years. In addition to the ministry I was able to lead and participate in, one of the things I am most grateful for during my time was the unofficial mentoring relationships I was able to establish.

In that unofficial mentoring, one of the things I picked up was the value of understanding rhythm. You can read a small part of that thought, geared specifically to Youth Ministers, over at the Horizon Youth Ministry blog. But when it comes to rhythms, I still have so much to learn!

One of the things I am benefitting from is journaling. In January of 2019 I began practicing The Miracle Morning as described by Hal Elrod, and it’s been a great practice for me. One of the elements is journaling. So, almost every morning, I journal. Twice.

The first is a “One Line a Day, 5 Year” Journal. This means, I write a sentence or two about that day. And now that I’m on my 2nd year, I have a built in reminder of major life events from the past 2 years, as well as perspective on things that seem big in the moment, but I would have completely forgotten. I make a point to make up for missed days on this, so I don’t have a blank day for the past 22 months.

The second, is an online journal with a feature that will send me my post from the last year, if I wrote on that day. I’m a little less rigid with this one, but the two-three paragraphs make for great reminders.

Today, I benefitted from my one line a day journal. I read what I wrote last year, and immediately it gave me some perspective on the rhythm I’m in for this time of year. And I feel refreshed (and perplexed) by it.

How are you embracing rhythms? What are the natural ebbs and flows of your life, and are you leaning into them? Do you naturally notice those rhythms, or do you (like me) need help being reminded?

How Do You Stay Sharp?

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Three months ago I started talking to a few friends about starting a book club of sorts. The idea was we would read through a book, and once a week we would have a zoom call to cover what we read and how it applied to our context.

For someone who doesn’t have just a great habit of reading, it was quite a challenge. But it was so much fun.

Then, we finished, and I stopped reading. It was as though I kind of hit the brakes on that discipline. Fast forward from the end of book club to last week, and I realized something:

I’m better when I’m filling my head with thoughts and ideas on purpose.

Now, I know this is true with scripture memory. In fact, one of my favorite to statements to make when teaching on the benefits of scripture memory is nothing impacts my day more than when I’m intentional about memorizing scripture. And it’s true.

But this is different. These are the down moments. When I’m home and done for the day and my mind starts to wander, if I’m not intentional about what I’ve been putting in, the results can be pretty scary.

So, in an effort to remain sharp, I’m trying to continually build the muscle of reading more. I want those moments to be filled on purpose, not on convenience.

In fact, I’m getting ready to start up another book club. And this time, I’m going to open it up. If you’d be interested in participating with me and a few others, email 3questionleadership@gmail.com and let me know. Our plan will be to finish up before the end of the year. Our book hasn’t been chosen, but will deal with something in the realm of leadership.

What’s Your Focus?

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Have you ever set a goal and accomplished it?

I set a goal to finish 36 books in 2019, and I did. That came after setting a goal in 2018 to finish a number of books (I don’t remember how many), and not reaching it. Even the fact I don’t remember the number from 2018 but do remember the number in 2019 tells you something.

My focus shifted. I no longer wanted to just have a goal, I wanted to accomplish my goal.

So I made a spreadsheet at the beginning of 2019 and recorded the books I finished. Every time I finished one, I would add it to my last, and update my count at the bottom of the page. And something amazing happened. I met my goal.

It’s actually not that surprising that I met a goal as I was tracking it consistently. It makes sense to most of us. Why?

Because we move toward our focus.

Focus is the difference between setting a goal and achieving a goal.

And the same is true for developing student leaders. If we don’t have a focus to guide them towards, then how are we helping them grow? It’s the difference between some books and 36 books.

Spend some time today narrowing your focus. Decide what you want students to aim for, and how you can help them hit that target. Then, put the target out there and continually remind them it’s there.

Ultimately, if we want to develop student (and adult) leaders, focus is the key.

What’s one way to do that? Implement the three questions and continually ask how they’re answering them. Over time, they will start to see opportunities and meet them instinctually.

4 Hacks to Put 3QL In Practice

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On Tuesday, I reflected pretty specifically on the first of the three leadership questions I teach to those around me. You can go here to read it.

Today, let’s focus on the third question. (Go here if you need a refresher on the three questions.)

Once we nail down what needs to be done, and are able to determine our willingness to accomplish that task moving forward, we are faced with the third question, the question of leadership: Who am I going to invite/include/empower/equip/enable to help me meet the need?

I’ve been teaching and asking myself the three questions since before starting this blog, and one of the areas where I need help is actual implementation. So yesterday, I started developing a worksheet to help me make progress as I strive to expand my own personal leadership influence.

Here are the questions I asked myself:

  1. What area needs to grow? This is key because I’m asking myself the awareness question from a different perspective. No longer is it simply about accomplish a task, now the question becomes what am I doing already that can be done better.
  2. How am I doing at it? Are you good at being honest with yourself? Go ahead, ask this about an area where you know you’re weak, or even where you think you’re strong. Either way, I’m going to guess the answer won’t be a 10/10. But again, evaluate and let this response determine the urgency in the next two questions.
  3. Who can I ask to help? List out names. Specific names. Even names you wouldn’t have considered before the exercise. These are people you’re willing to go to and ask for help in this specific area, but don’t let it be the same people every time.
  4. By When? What’s your timeline. I did this yesterday, and one of them was a more immediate timeline–even beginning next month. The other, I set a goal for next year. There was freedom in both. There was freedom in simply listing a time line. The third question is no longer ambiguous.

There are a couple extra questions I added along the way, but you’ll want to make sure you’re signed up to receive the 3QL emails, as I’ll be sending it to specifically to subscribers once it’s been polished.

At the end of the day, though, leadership is only leadership if we are leading people. To quote John Maxwell, “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” What specific steps are you taking today to grow your leadership influence? Spend some time working through the questions above.

You'll Figure it Out

You’ll Figure It Out

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Did you know I play bass guitar?

I got my first guitar in junior high and learned to play over the following few years. Who am I kidding, I’m still learning to play.

But for Christmas my senior year of high school, my dad bought me a bass guitar. Ever a pragmatist, he decided to buy me a “real” bass so that when/if/when I decided to give up on it, since I was a guitar player, the bass would have a good resale value. That meant my first bass was a Fender Jazz Bass.

But there was something he didn’t expect: I’m a pack rat, so I never get rid of anything. So I kept my bass. I learned one 8 bar blues bass line that made me sound like I knew what I was doing, but never really had occasion to play bass.

Fast forward a couple years. I was serving at my first church as the youth minister. Even though I was in charge of youth, I helped with music where I could. Then, with the arrival of a new music minister, something changed.

Our new music minister was incredibly gifted musically, but had cut his teeth playing bass guitar. So, he started teaching me how to play. But his approach was different.

I generally have a pretty poor memory, but I’m pretty certain we never sat down for a formal “lesson”. It was always learning “on the fly”.

I still have a picture in my head of one morning. He was on guitar. I was on bass. It was the opening song for the morning. Right before he started playing, I remember telling him I didn’t know the song. And his words continue to ring true: you’ll figure it out.

And that’s what I had to do. Sink or swim. And I sank, a lot. Until I learned to swim.

Playing with him I learned to anticipate the changes, to play with the rhythm, to find the groove, and so much more.

His leadership approach is something I occasionally employ today. Sometimes the best tool for growth is immersion.

Does that mean it’s going to be perfect? Nope.

Does that means it’s going to be flawless? Nope.

Does that mean it’s going to be memorable? Very likely, one way or the other.

There is someone in your sphere of influence who needs an opportunity to sink or swim. There is someone you are leading who needs a challenge they feel they cannot meet.

So I have two questions for you today: 1) who is it? and 2) are you willing to step back for the sake of their growth?

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