You Can Do This

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Leadership can be difficult.

Knowing what to say and when to say it.

Knowing what to do and when to do it.

Knowing who to recruit and how to ask.

Knowing when to speak and when to stay silent.

Knowing when to correct and when to encourage.

Knowing when to navigate a season and when to change.

If you’re trying to expand your leadership influence, you likely resonate with at least one of these. And that’s perfectly natural.

Regardless of the tension you’re navigating, or the season you’re walking through, let me offer this: hang in there. You can do this.

The call to leadership is a call to growth-both of ourselves and of those we lead.

But growth takes time.

Be intentional. Be faithful. Move forward at a steady pace and you’ll be amazed at how you can grow.

Grow Thyself

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What are you doing to grow yourself as a leader?

There are a few themes I tend to repeat here on 3QL, and the need to grow always makes the list. Because if we don’t grow, how can we expect the people around us to grow?

One of the ways I try to keep myself growing is by consuming books. I’m in the middle of 3-4 books right now (yes, I have commitment issues), but I want to share one that has sparked my interest greatly.

Carey Nieuwhof is a thought leader when it comes to leadership. If you aren’t subscribed to his blog or following him on social, I would encourage you to do that right away. Carey experienced burn out a few years ago, has been able to recover in a healthy way, and just released a book titled At Your Best sharing how he rescheduled his day to increase his productivity. It’s been a fascinating read and extremely thought provoking exercise for me over the past couple weeks. I thought I would pass it along.

Click here to buy At Your Best from Amazon.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes so far:

“Workaholism is, after all, the most rewarded addiction in the nation.”

“Stop saying you don’t have the time. Start admitting you didn’t make the time.”

“Balanced people don’t change the world. Passionate people do.”

“If you don’t declare a finish line to your work, your body will.”

Check it out, and see what happens!

Lessons from the Court: Learn to Trust

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If we’ve never actually met, I’m a tall guy. But not only am I tall, I’m big and slow. Like, really slow.

One day we had three people show up to play basketball, so we played “21” (or one-on-one-on-one). This was great until the two guys I was playing against realized I was not quick enough to get past them. So they started guarding me pretty tight and shut me down.

That’s why I prefer to play with a team.

For the past couple years, playing pickup basketball has been one of my more consistent events week in, week out. Recently I spent some time reflecting on the leadership lessons I can share from my time on the court.

When you play pickup basketball, you don’t always know who’s going to be on your team when you walk into the gym. Some weeks you may get the new guy, and some weeks you may get the “old” guy.

But no matter who you have on your team, it makes more sense to learn to trust them, than to try to exclude them. This makes sense, right? If we have a game of four on four, yet I don’t trust my teammates, then I’m really playing one on four. Who would choose to do that?

Trust is imperative when playing basketball. I need to trust my teammate’s ability to make the right choice. I need to trust their judgment. I need to trust their effort. I need to trust them. Because if I don’t, we both lose.

The same is true in leadership. If we don’t learn to trust the people around us, then we are setting ourselves up for either failure or a lifetime of lone-wolf leadership (which isn’t really leadership).

But, when we learn what our teammates bring to the table, and we choose to trust their ability, desire, and skills, then we unlock a new level of progress.

Who around you do you need to trust today? How might trusting them help you reach a new level? What are you waiting for?

The Power of an Aha Moment

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Let’s talk about “Aha” moments. Those moments where someone says something and you almost instinctively push back, only to realize they’re right.

One of my aha moments came about 10 years ago. I was serving bi-vocationally at the church where I grew up. We were seeing some good growth, but we hit a bit of a ceiling. Then one day while listening to a podcast, probably while riding a 4-wheeler, I heard Josh Griffin say something to the effect of: 30 kids is about the max a youth minister will be able to sustain by himself.

To clarify: he was saying that if I was going to do ministry by myself, the biggest number I would be able to sustain would be about 30. We might balloon over that, but reality is we would never successfully grow past that.

And I was living it. The ministry had grown to about 30, but had hit a ceiling. I had my “aha” moment, and decided it was time to make a change.

So I started looking for an adult to recruit. That’s actually a very difficult thing to do in a small town, but I set out to do it. And I found someone willing to help.

Fast forward a few years, and at the peak of the ministry at my last church, we had a solid team of adults investing in and loving on students. In fact, the success we saw would not have happened without those adults.

Now, today, a couple years into a new role, I’ve spent a significant amount of time and energy investing in and encouraging adults, and we are set for growth.

Here’s the point: leadership development means recruiting and retaining.

This comes very naturally and easy to some people, but to others (like me), it takes continual, intentional effort. But it’s worth the effort. And more than that, it’s a blessing to the people we invite for the journey.

So, youth ministers: who can you recruit today? What are you waiting for?

Beware the Dangers of Shared Language

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Earlier I wrote about the Power of Shared Language. I really do believe having phrases that we repeat often can unlock some incredible potential.

But on the road of developing shared language, there are a few speed bumps along the way. Today, I want to talk about two specific speed bumps to consider as you try to create and implement shared language.

LANGUAGE THAT ISN’T SHARED IS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE

Our church hosted a Family Camp over the New Year’s Holiday. In the course of planning it, I contacted the camp facility (where I have only been a couple of times). During the course of conversation, I realized there was a breakdown in our communication. I didn’t know everything they thought I knew, and they didn’t know everything I thought they knew. Even things as simple as names of buildings and locations didn’t make sense to someone who had yet to memorize the map. The result? Frustration set in.

Names of buildings are great, but if you don’t understand, then what’s the point? This is why in small towns you get directions in one of two ways: locals talk to each other about the “Jackson house” or “church” street (which isn’t a street name but a description, #truestory) because everyone knows the story behind the names. But locals give directions to outsiders based on landmarks – turn right at the second stoplight, cross the tracks, and turn in at the gate with a water buffalo.

As you seek to create some shared language, always ask yourself first – does my audience understand what this means? If not, explain it and enjoy shared language!

SHARED LANGUAGE CAN CREATE AN US VS. THEM CULTURE

Have you ever been part of a conversation with two other people who are best friends, but you only know them casually? Did you find yourself getting lost in the cracks of inside jokes and only partially told stories? How did you feel?

This is the other danger of shared language. If we are not careful, we create an us vs. them culture. We know the meaning of the secret phrases, but they don’t, so they don’t matter.

As a leader, take it on yourself to become an educator. Invite new people to join you by explaining the things that may not make sense. Build into your culture ways for people to find their place and belong, and watch what happens from there.

Shared language is a powerful tool when used correctly, so learn to use it correctly and watch what unfolds!

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