Permission to Multiply

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Today, instead of sharing an old post, here’s a fresh one.

Each week, following our Wednesday night program, I sit down with our student leadership team to evaluate the night. My wife usually hangs around until we finish to make sure kids are getting picked up and other assorted duties.

We’ve recently added a new volunteer, a young man who is excited to help where he can. In addition, I have our summer intern who lives in town and helps on Wednesdays nights as well, and someone I’ve been meeting with weekly for the past year.

A few weeks back, while I was meeting with student leaders, my wife shared this observation. My former intern was putting things up, making trips to and from our “base of operations” (we are essentially a portable ministry within our building for this current season). After he finished about two of the steps, he realized our new volunteer was nearby, and a light bulb went off. He showed the new guy how to do what he was doing, so the next time either of them would be equipped to do the job.

Actually, the conversation was more like this: “Shoot, has Wes taught you the three questions yet? No? Okay, he will, but until then, let me show you what I’m doing.”

And that’s the power of the third question. It’s an excuse to invite someone to join you. If you (or the people you lead) are not naturally gifted at asking for help, the three questions give a framework for expanding leadership influence.

That influence expansion begins with cleanup after a program, but very quickly, as the muscle is developed, it grows into leveraging influence to lead others in accomplishing a goal.

Someone around you needs permission to ask others for help. Teach them the three questions and see what happens!

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How Do Leaders Grow?

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Surprise! Here’s a bonus (real time) post for this week! (And the crowd goes wild!!! Okay, maybe not.)

Yesterday’s post had the following line: Leaders who never grow, never last.

The irony of that sentence, written four years ago, is my journey over the past four years has validated that statement. I have grown so much from writing and reflecting on the real-time leadership principles I’ve been walking through, but that hasn’t been enough.

Growth occasionally happens by accident. But exponential growth happens when we are intentional. That means if I truly believe leaders who never grow, never last, then I have to make an intentional effort to grow, or I can already predict my longevity.

So, how do you grow intentionally? Here are three things I’ve picked up along the way:

  1. Dream Big. Where do I want to be 5, 10, 20 years from now? Or, maybe even more importantly, who do I want to be moving forward? Jot down a few thoughts and ideas.
  2. Write It Out. Raise your hand if you have ever walked into the kitchen and forgot why you’re there. Your memory isn’t quite the lock box that you think it is. So, write out your dreams. Don’t trap them in the spaghetti strainer of your mind. Plus, writing them out gives definition and clarity to your dreams.
  3. Act On It. Last year I read through a leadership book with a few friends. Next week, I’m starting the process over again. Additionally, I’m pouring into and investing in people around me. I’m setting goals for the information I want to consume. I’m moving and working and trying to make sure I’m developing a habit of growth. Your actions may look different, and that’s okay. But the key factor is this: don’t just dream, act.

If you want to last as a leader, you have to grow. Period. You have no other choice.

So, what actions are you taking to grow?

What’s the Relationship of Leadership and Growth?

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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.

If you’re reading this, let me start today by saying thank you. I appreciate you reading, thinking, sharing, and participating. I started this blog with one basic premise: I think there may be something to the 3 questions I have started asking myself to help me grow as a leader.

What are the 3 questions? Well, when I walk into a room (or find myself leading an event), I ask:

  1. What needs to be done?
  2. What can I do?
  3. Who can I get to help?

If you’re new, you can click here to read the original series of posts introducing and explaining the 3 questions.

Disclaimer: This is not an effort to toot my own horn, but let’s be honest–there’s a level of self indulgence that comes with writing a blog (probably my biggest struggle with continuing to write and post).

I am constantly amazed at how when I ask myself the three questions in most situations, I am immediately presented with an opportunity to grow, especially as it comes to that tricky third question.

It’s risky to ask someone for help. It’s natural to fear a no. It’s easier to do it myself. It’s less revealing of my shortcomings when I’m the only one who realizes how poorly I plan. It’s comfortable to stay where we are and never grow.

But, once again, let’s be honest: leaders who never grow, never last.

Too extreme? Maybe, but I know I am not going to find satisfaction unless I am willing to push my own leadership limits and encourage those around me to do the same thing.

What about you? What are you building into your life and routine that regularly challenges you to grow? Is it working?

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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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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.

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