4 Surprising Insights for Growth

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Last week I was supposed to be gone, but my trip got cancelled. So, I was faced with a decision: do I pick up the things I handed off, or do I go about my day being present, but not filling my normal roles? I chose the latter, and learned a few things.

Before I share some of the insights I gleaned, I think it will be beneficial for you to know where my head’s at currently. I’ve been in ministry for coming up on 19 years. The last 5 or so have seen a significant shift in my approach to ministry. And it’s no coincidence that I’ve been blogging for 5 years!

The shift I’ve made is rather simple: how can I intentionally train and empower others to grow in their leadership influence.

I’ve done this a few ways. I’ve written 470+ blog posts over the past 5 years that served as real time reflections of issues I was facing, as well as observations of things I believe to be leadership principles. I’ve started intentionally meeting with people for the purpose of mutual growth–reading through books together, watching video series, covering leadership principles, etc. I’ve taught teenagers to ask and answer the 3 Questions, and held them accountable in the process.

All that to say, I’m trying to shift to more of an equipper of leaders around me.

So, the Sunday I was present but had planned to be gone, helped give me some perspective on four things:

  1. The things I think won’t get done without me, will actually get done without me. I’ll be considerable more specific than usual, but on a Sunday morning, I tend to stress out about setup. Our ministry is in a season where we are essentially a portable ministry, so setup is a major part of what we do, and we have very little time to do it (10-12 minutes, generally speaking). I made the hard decision not to help with setup (something I lead every week), and things still got set up. People knew the need and felt the responsibility to meet the need, so they met the need. Key takeaway: Be more intentional about encouraging others to take the lead in setup, freeing me up to focus more on connecting.
  2. We have a good flow. I’m a routine guy, so when I can have a routine and work the routine, I feel good. That also means when I’m not the one up front, the routine is still known and understood. I really like the way we’ve structured our teaching model, and think it helps others when they’ve seen the routine and understand the routine. Key takeaway: continue to maximize the routine, but be willing to change it up when necessary.
  3. We have incredible leaders. The adults who work with students are great. It was a low adult Sunday due to a holiday weekend, but the ones who showed up were fully engaged and ready to make a difference. More than that, our student leaders, for the most part, get it and are willing to step up when given the opportunity.
  4. There’s still room to grow. I don’t think I could miss a month without a hitch, and I don’t know if that should even be my goal. But, there’s still room to grow. There are still people to train, there are still people to empower, there are still needs to be met. We are not there. Key takeaway: keep pouring into those around me.

All in all, I was grateful for a day to reflect. I’ve not arrived as a leader, and I’m okay with that. But I’m trying to grow.

Now, think about your arena of influence. If you were scheduled to be gone and were able to be a fly on the wall, what might you learn? Do you think you’d be pleased or disappointed? Are you holding on to things because you think no one else will do them? Do you need to make adjustments so confusion is minimized? Take a minute to reflect on how you might grow as a leader, and how you can lead those around you to do the same.

Happy New Year

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If you haven’t noticed, I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus the last few months. But I didn’t want to let the New Year pass without a post, mostly because I love the New Year.

“Resolutions” are usually hit or miss as to what people think of them. I don’t know that I set actual resolutions, but I do try to lean into the rhythm and energy that comes with a new year.

A few years ago I worked up a sheet to review a year, and it made an incredible difference for the next year. I’d like to share that worksheet with you. There’s nothing magical about it, other than the time you take to put into it.

I remember hearing John Maxwell say “Experience isn’t the best teacher. Evaluated experience is.” That is incredibly true. It’s not enough to have an experience and expect to grow. If we truly want to grow, we have to evaluate. I almost erased that last line, but I think it’s incredibly true.

I’m going to spend the rest of this week evaluating and preparing for 2022. I’ve already done quite a bit of that, but I want the energy of the new year to continue to carry me. Will you do the same?

As for the worksheet I mentioned, I’ll send it out to subscribers on Thursday, but you have to be subscribed. So, if you don’t get these posts in your inbox, go here to subscribe!

And if you want a little more of my thoughts on the worksheet and some reflections pre-pandemic, you can go here.

Let’s make 2022 the best yet.

You Guessed It, Redundancy

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I’m going to take a pause from the series I’ve been going through to share a real time thought.

Leadership requires redundancy. I’ve said this over and over, and I’ll keep saying it. Here are three reasons why:

  1. Vision requires reminding. Everyone in an organization needs to be reminded why they do what they do. Otherwise, the work overcomes the goal. Put another way, if vision is not clearly repeated, the work becomes the goal. Answering the three questions is not the goal–leadership is the goal, but if we don’t clearly repeat the vision, the questions in and of themselves (or any framework to teach leadership) are not enough to maintain momentum.
  2. People forget. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been working on something only to be reminded of why I started in the first place. My memory is terrible, so I cannot expect everyone around me to remember something the first time I say it. You can’t either.
  3. A clear goal provides energy. The middle of any sports season is usually the most difficult. The excitement of the new season has worn off, and the prospect of the momentum of post-season play has yet to ramp up significantly. The same is true of your leadership. Eventually the newness of what you’re doing is going to wear off, and you’re going to find yourself just far enough away from the goal you’re working towards that you’re ready to quit. But reminding yourself of a clear goal can help you push through. And reminding those you lead of that goal will do the same.

So, look around you. What do you need to say again? What do you feel has been said enough? Say it again, and again. The results will speak loud and clear.

Is This the Most Exhausting Part of Leadership?

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I hate to be a broken record, but today I want to remind you of what may very well be the most exhausting and least flashy part of leadership.

The Redundancy of Leadership. I’ve written about it before (fitting, right?). You can read about it here, here, here, and even here.

Redundancy is not what they put in the brochure to recruit you to be a leader.

Redundancy is not flashy.

Redundancy is not exhilarating.

But redundancy is necessary. In fact, learning to master the art of redundancy may very well be the key to unlocking your leadership.

If you’re too flaky, moving from one point to another, then it’s difficult for someone to follow your leadership. Have you ever tried to chase a fly? Following a leader without redundancy is very similar to that–you can try to guess their next move, but there’s no real way to know.

If you’re too redundant, the people with you feel like they’re staring at pot of water waiting to boil.

Your role as a leader, is to find the magic mix of redundancy that keeps the vision alive and keeps the mission moving forward.

Redundancy is not flashy, but it’s absolutely necessary. Hang in there, and keep reminding the people you lead of the mission you’re working towards. You can do this!

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.

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