Learning to Trust

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My youngest daughter broke her leg in January. She spent 5 weeks in a cast. Now she has the cast off, and for the last two weeks she has been retraining her leg muscles, and her brain, to walk the right way.

More than the physical training, though, it’s been interesting to watch as she redevelops trust in her leg. For all of her life, or as long as she could remember, her leg worked the way it was supposed to work. If she walked, it held her up. If she ran, it helped. But then, one day, she jumped and her leg did not do what it was supposed to do–it broke.

Right after the cast came off, she was scared to put her foot on the ground, undoubtedly remembering the terrible pain of the break. Slowly she began to realize her leg was going to work. It’s been slow, but everyday there’s a little more progress.

Trust in relationships works the same way. Many of us have friendships where we can trust the other person, until that trust is broken. Once trust is broken, the recovery takes time.

Some of us have experienced enough broken trust to be wary of trusting anyone, and so the healing takes even longer.

As a leader, one of our roles is establishing and maintaining trust. Because we are human, and because we work with other human, sometimes that trust will be broken. When that happens, make an effort to rebuild the trust, understanding it will take time.


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Be Careful Who Speaks into Your Life

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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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Don’t Hide from Hard Conversations

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Have you ever had a meeting scheduled that you dreaded all day? Maybe it’s a yearly review, a potentially explosive situation, or a conversation you are fully expecting to go south. Over the years, I have learned the difficult lesson to not run away from difficult conversations.

A few years ago terrible situation arose at Penn State University that cost many people their jobs, and left a disastrous effect on several young boys. Through such a terrible situation, we learn an important lesson with implications for both youth ministry and the church as a whole. (more…)

Learning to Step Up

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Today we are continuing to dive a little deeper into the “3 Questions”. You can read Monday’s exploration of the first question here.

Just for a refresher, when you walk into a room, ask yourself:

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

(Click herehere and here if you haven’t read the original posts yet)

Today, we are going to examine the second question a little more.

We Cannot Accomplish Anything We Are Unwilling to Do Something to Change

As we learn to answer the 3 Questions, it helps to come to terms with our own ability to make a difference. You have influence on many of the situations you find yourself facing. (more…)

Having a Personal Development Plan

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Today, let’s take a moment for some evaluation. That’s right: you need to evaluate some things about yourself before moving forward in your leadership journey.

First, what is your plan for personal leadership development? What are you doing now that has helped you become a better leader?

Look at a calendar, and look back over the last six months. What steps have you taken to become a better leader? Have you had regular meetings with a mentor? Have you read leadership books? Maybe you have attended some conferences, or go to a local network of professionals.

Leadership development for those around you will not take priority until your own personal leadership development takes priority. Let that soak in for a moment. Developing leaders around you will not take place at a rate that is greater than your own development.

You cannot treat your own personal leadership development as a 4, on a scale of 1 to 10, and then expect the people you want to influence to view it as a 9. You set the example for personal leadership development.

If you are taking your development as a leader seriously, then you are starting on the right foot. The reality is that any forward movement is forward movement. You may not be doing anything at this point to develop your leadership, aside from reading this collection of thoughts, but you have started somewhere.

Second, take some time to define what leadership means to you. Very few things will limit the effectiveness of the rest of this blog as much as failing to define leadership. Over time I have realized how important clarity really becomes.

One way to work at defining leadership is with a simple web search for leadership quotes. You do not have to reinvent the wheel as you seek to define leadership, but at the same time it should be personal. Take a few quotes you find inspiring, or you read and something in you shouts “Yes! That’s it!” and use those. See how a dictionary defines leadership. Look at how Jesus defines leadership. Use sources outside of your own capacities, but let it be something with which you wrestle.

I am very wired toward service as a leadership trait. In fact, I tend to emphasize behind the scenes serving more than actually moving a group of people in a certain direction. Without a definition of leadership, my default setting is simply to teach teenagers how to serve. While serving is not a bad thing, I have had to wrestle with whether or not serving equals leadership. I decided the two go hand in hand, but there is a distinction to be made; a distinction of which I have to remind myself regularly.

So, what is your definition of leadership? Find a place to write your definition somewhere. Wrestle with it as you try to write it out. Ask yourself what are the weak areas of the definition? What are the strengths?


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