Heart Check

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Words reveal intent. Actions reveal heart.

I worked up that phrase a few years back, and it’s something I return to regularly to both wrestle with it’s validity and to check my heart in the process.

You see, I think we say things we want to do. We want to eat better, exercise more, be a better friend, and be more dependable. All of those are things we intend to do.

But at the end of the day, after that third serving of supper, our actions reveal things about us we may not be ready or willing to accept.

The same is true in developing leaders around us. We know we should do a better job. We say we should do a better job. But, when push comes to shove, our actions reveal something different.

This summer for student ministry is unlike anything we have ever experienced. I know so many ministries who are having to completely audible what would have been and move in a different direction.

But I have one plea. Don’t let leadership development get pushed to the side.

Developing leaders is not an easy task. I love what we’ve been able to do each summer at camp with our Horizon Leadership Camp, but in the absence of camp, I am going to spend brain energy deciding how to work leadership development into what I’m doing.

After all, I can say developing student leaders is important. But if I’m not taking steps to help students grow, do my actions line up with my intent?

Dream a little today about what leadership development could look like this summer. Put some thought into it, and then do it. You can do this!

stop and go

Act Now or Wait?

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I’m a terrible bargain hunter. What I mean is, if I find a bargain, regardless of a need, I try to convince myself (and my finance department) of my need for it. In those moments, I tend to live with an incredible sense of urgency, hoping to never miss the opportunity.

The rest of the time, however, I tend to let things run their course, rarely getting in a hurry. I live by a pan mentality–It’ll all pan out eventually.

The balance between action and patience is one of the most challenging parts of leadership for me. Over time I have seen some problems resolve themselves naturally, usually problems in my realm of influence.

But when it’s a problem in another leader’s realm of influence, their patience and waiting often drives me crazy. Oh, the hypocrisy.

There’s obviously a line between waiting and action, and the *blessing of leadership is learning to walk the tight rope. Act too soon or too often, and you become Chicken Little declaring a falling sky at every turn. Wait too long, and you’re the Titanic trying to avoid an iceberg.

Great leaders know when to act. Great leaders also know when to hesitate. After all, if the answer was to always do one or the other, everyone could master it. There would be no intuition, no mistakes, no nuance.

If you’re like me, you lean to one side over the other. Which side is it? Do you tend to act or tend to wait?

Now, if your tendency is action, is there a situation around you demanding waiting to act?

If your tendency is waiting, what situation around you requires action?

Respond appropriately today and allow your leadership influence to grow!

The Leadership Current

The Leadership Current

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I was scrolling through Facebook this weekend and saw a post that made me raise my eyebrows. It was a picture of a group of seniors and the statement was something along the lines of “these seniors are ready to be the leaders of their school.”

I think the sentiment behind the posting of the photo was right, but I would push back a little.

Leadership doesn’t show up when the title shows up. Leadership runs like a current beneath the surface, and a title helps bring the current to the surface.

Those students aren’t leaders because they are seniors in high school. They are seniors in high school. Granted, being a senior puts you in positions to lead. Being a senior gives you a level of gravitas to step up and lead. Being a senior allows you the potential to have more influence. But being alive longer (than younger students) doesn’t automatically mean you’re a leader. It just means you’ve been alive longer.

Maybe what I push back on the most is the idea that you have to be a senior to lead. I didn’t believe that when I was in school. In fact, I was not taught that. I was taught the opposite.

At my home church, starting my freshman year, we had a vacancy of leadership, so I found ways to step up. I didn’t wait to have the title. I was given the opportunity and did the best I could.

I’ve seen this play out in the lives of other students. The strongest leaders are the ones who, in the absence of leadership, step up. Perpetuating the thought that “now you’re a senior, you’re a leader” communicates to juniors that they have not yet arrived. Or that a freshman doesn’t stand a chance.

Here’s what I would say: senior year provides a sense of urgency to lead, and that’s completely natural. But, if we aren’t teaching students to step up and lead as middle school students, as freshmen or sophomores or juniors, then when the title of senior arrives, they will be in a sink or swim situation.

If you work with students, find ways to provide opportunities for them to expand their leadership influence. Let’s help students learn to take a stand regardless of their age. Then, when they become seniors, they will have been trained to make the most of their title.

But if you are alive, let me challenge you: If you’re waiting for your “senior year” (literally or figuratively), stop waiting and find a way to step up and lead today.

Reframing Student Leadership, pt 2

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One of Maxwell’s Laws of Leadership is the Law of Explosive Growth – If you want to grow, lead followers; if you want to multiply, lead leaders.

Here’s what I’ve found in ministry: I have to lead both.

Hear me out. I’m not contradicting one of the foremost leaders on leadership.

Instead, what I’m saying is that if all I do is spend my time and energy looking to find leaders, then I’m spinning my wheels.

But, if I develop a mindset that says “I’m going to develop anyone who shows interest”, then I have a system set up for greater leadership potential to rise to the top.

Once I have identified a student with a higher leadership ceiling, then I can spend more time trying to draw that out of them, helping them grow and develop.

The truth of the principle is still there–leaders make a greater impact. I believe that with all of my heart. But willing leaders still make the difference. I can never lead someone to a place they are unwilling to go. I can take a little willingness and help them achieve new heights, but I cannot make an unwilling jumper a world class diver.

What system are you putting into place that allows students to explore their leadership leanings? Do you have ways of identifying leaders with higher ceilings? Do you need to add something like that?

Learn and Grow

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Short post today, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about mistakes and mishaps. I blog on this regularly, partly because it’s a fear of mine.

I fear mistakes. I fear a mistake means I’m not good enough. I fear a mistake means I’m not valuable.

Ultimately, I don’t fear failure. I fear surrendering to failure. Until I learn to reframe my fear, I will never be able to grow.

Great leaders know failure is part of life. So take that step today. Have that conversation that may not go your way. Learn from it and grow.

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