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?

When “No” is the Best Answer

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I think I’m a bit of a unicorn. Why? Because my cheesy pickup line effectiveness is 100%. In other words, the woman to whom I’m married, fell in love with my clever charm and wit from the beginning.

Okay, maybe not. But it doesn’t change the fact that I’m 1 for 1.

Rejection hurts. I may not have experienced rejection as part of my only serious romantic relationship, but I’ve been told no many times.

One summer, as I was preparing for camp, I asked ten different women to go as a sponsor, and every single one said no. We were in desperate need, and I felt helpless.

Again, let me say, rejection hurts. Rejection demeans and beats down. Rejection makes us doubt our purpose and mission.

And if you’re like me, the fear of rejection paralyzes you.

I will put off asking a question because I’m afraid the answer will be no, when in reality the longer I wait the more likely the answer will be no. Can you say self-fulfilling prophecy?

One of the things I’m learning currently, yet still struggling to put into practice, is that people are willing to help. It’s just a matter of finding the right person to help.

Sometimes a no is exactly the right answer.

That’s why, as leaders, we have to get comfortable with the answer no. I would rather have an honest “no” than a fake or resentful “yes”. Because when I find that “yes”, they’re going to go above and beyond.

When we learn to push past the fear of rejection and continually work the three questions, our leadership will continue to grow.

How about you? How are you at asking for help or involvement? Are you willing to face rejection for the sake of growth? Is anything holding you back?

Leadership is Tough

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Leadership is tough. The constant battle that wages war between finding a groove and not being satisfied with where things are can take a toll over time.

Comfort versus progress provide the background for an ongoing tension.

That’s where vision and focus come into play. During seasons where comfort starts to settle into a situation, a clear vision helps me move forward.

Knowing what your target should be helps orient your aim at the end of the day. Having an idea of how to track your success and growth helps you not feel overwhelmed.

What’s your vision and focus for your current context? Do you have one? How are you measuring your successfulness? Ministers, is it attendance? Is it buy in? Is it something else?

As a leader, no one in the organization is as committed to the success and fruitfulness of your area as you are (or should be). Few people you lead lay their head down at night worrying about that little detail that has been rubbing you the wrong way all day.

You carry a burden for the success and growth of your ministry (or business). The burden, at times, feels feather light, while at other times it feels like a bag of bricks. That’s the burden of leadership. Your greatest test as a leader may not be your success as much as your endurance. If you can run the race and remain faithful, your impact over the years gains positive perspective. But you have to remain faithful where you are. You have to remain committed.

So, once again, what your vision and focus for your current context? What are you aiming for? Are you hitting it? Are there changes that need to be made? Are you willing to make the changes?

The reality is that leadership is tough, but you have an opportunity to take a stand and make the kind of difference you’re called to make. Hang in there, and keep expanding your leadership influence.

The Pendulum Swing

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I think there are two types of people in the world: those who have a plan before starting something, and those who build the plan as they go along.

Maybe it’s more of a pendulum arc, where the you are somewhere on the swing of the pendulum, but it’s possible to display a little bit of both.

When I was in my early 20s, I valued my ability to shoot from the hip. As I’ve gotten older, I value preparation and forethought, but I still land on the “let’s throw this up in the air and see where it lands” side of the arc.

Starting something new can be challenging. For me, someone who values a little chaos, it’s hard to anticipate the speed-bumps encountered by those we lead. That’s what happened this past week.

We are in the building phase of a student worship team at my church, and had our first practice on Sunday. My goal going in to practice was to try to discern, in the midst of the chaos, where we were as a group. I walked away encouraged and ready to move forward.

Then I got the text. One of the students was overwhelmed in the moment, created a not-based-on-reality scenario in their head, and was ready to step down.

At the core, it was my fault. I did not prepare them fully for what I was looking for in practice, once again letting key information get trapped in my head (click here to read a previous post about this). The result: frustration, fear, worry, and ultimately feelings of inadequacy.

Would this student have felt these things regardless? Possibly. But did I do everything I could have done to help them prepare? No.

So maybe my pendulum hasn’t reached where it needs to reach.

I truly believe there’s no perfect balance in this. I think we have things that make us strong. But, I do believe if we allow ourselves to completely neglect one side, we start to alienate a lot of people along the way, and our influence diminishes. Ultimately, if we only embrace our strength, then we only lead people who operate like us, thus diminishing our leadership capability.

What about you? Where do you land on the arc? Do you swing to the side of “everything needs a plan and a purpose”? Or do you swing to “step first, look second”? How has that benefited you in the past month? How has it hurt you? What change do you need to make this week?

Current Reads

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I read a really good post from Carey Nieuwhof at the end of last week on 12 books every leader must read. Feel free to click over and check it out.

I thought today I’d share a few books I’m reading through at the moment.

  • Growing Young – I looked up not long ago and realized I haven’t read a youth ministry related book in a while, so I texted a trusted friend and asked for a recommendation. He suggested this one, so it’s on my kindle being digested at the moment. It’s also free thanks to my Kindle Unlimited subscription!
  • Free to Focus – With a job transition, I thought I would try to make the most of the momentum and bought this book when it released not long ago. It’s one of the first books where I’ve worked through it chapter by chapter, actually completing the assignments at the end, which also means I abandoned the audio version for the kindle edition.
  • How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge – Speaking of audio books, I picked this one up on a sale a few months back and am working my way through it. The author actually read it, and has a unique delivery on some aspects. The content is solid, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.
  • The Miracle Morning – I hesitate to write much about this because I took a back door approach to it (I actually read the version for writers to get introduced to the concepts), but the impact is there nonetheless. I’ll just say it’s been a game changer for me.

I’ve written about this before, but I tend to have book ADD. I have a difficult time sticking with a book once I start, but it’s a discipline I’m working to develop.

So, what about you? What books are you reading? I’d love to hear, so comment below!

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