What’s Your Rhythm?

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I served at my last church for almost 7 years. In addition to the ministry I was able to lead and participate in, one of the things I am most grateful for during my time was the unofficial mentoring relationships I was able to establish.

In that unofficial mentoring, one of the things I picked up was the value of understanding rhythm. You can read a small part of that thought, geared specifically to Youth Ministers, over at the Horizon Youth Ministry blog. But when it comes to rhythms, I still have so much to learn!

One of the things I am benefitting from is journaling. In January of 2019 I began practicing The Miracle Morning as described by Hal Elrod, and it’s been a great practice for me. One of the elements is journaling. So, almost every morning, I journal. Twice.

The first is a “One Line a Day, 5 Year” Journal. This means, I write a sentence or two about that day. And now that I’m on my 2nd year, I have a built in reminder of major life events from the past 2 years, as well as perspective on things that seem big in the moment, but I would have completely forgotten. I make a point to make up for missed days on this, so I don’t have a blank day for the past 22 months.

The second, is an online journal with a feature that will send me my post from the last year, if I wrote on that day. I’m a little less rigid with this one, but the two-three paragraphs make for great reminders.

Today, I benefitted from my one line a day journal. I read what I wrote last year, and immediately it gave me some perspective on the rhythm I’m in for this time of year. And I feel refreshed (and perplexed) by it.

How are you embracing rhythms? What are the natural ebbs and flows of your life, and are you leaning into them? Do you naturally notice those rhythms, or do you (like me) need help being reminded?

How Do You Stay Sharp?

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Three months ago I started talking to a few friends about starting a book club of sorts. The idea was we would read through a book, and once a week we would have a zoom call to cover what we read and how it applied to our context.

For someone who doesn’t have just a great habit of reading, it was quite a challenge. But it was so much fun.

Then, we finished, and I stopped reading. It was as though I kind of hit the brakes on that discipline. Fast forward from the end of book club to last week, and I realized something:

I’m better when I’m filling my head with thoughts and ideas on purpose.

Now, I know this is true with scripture memory. In fact, one of my favorite to statements to make when teaching on the benefits of scripture memory is nothing impacts my day more than when I’m intentional about memorizing scripture. And it’s true.

But this is different. These are the down moments. When I’m home and done for the day and my mind starts to wander, if I’m not intentional about what I’ve been putting in, the results can be pretty scary.

So, in an effort to remain sharp, I’m trying to continually build the muscle of reading more. I want those moments to be filled on purpose, not on convenience.

In fact, I’m getting ready to start up another book club. And this time, I’m going to open it up. If you’d be interested in participating with me and a few others, email 3questionleadership@gmail.com and let me know. Our plan will be to finish up before the end of the year. Our book hasn’t been chosen, but will deal with something in the realm of leadership.

What If Obedience Matters Most?

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God didn’t go looking for leaders. God looked for obedient people whom he then formed into leaders.

Gene Wilkes, Jesus on Leadership

As part of my daily startup routine when I get into the office, I read part of a book. For someone like me who is not a natural reader, it’s been a nice discipline to try to develop.

For a good portion of 2020, I spent time reading through Gene Wilkes’ book Jesus on Leadership. And it was a great read.

This morning I was going back over my notes (another discipline I’m trying to develop), and found the quote above.

I’ve written about obedience over skill before, but I think Wilkes’ quote here is what trips up so many people as they seek to develop leaders, or even to develop as a leader themselves.

We set an imaginary bar someone must reach, and until they do so, we decide they (or we) don’t qualify.

But what if we change the bar for leadership?

What if the most important trait to look for in a potential leader isn’t their charm or their ability to work the crowd? Not that this disqualifies anyone.

What if the most important trait to look for in a potential leader isn’t their ability to rally a group of people for a cause? Not that this disqualifies anyone.

What if the most important trait to look for in a potential leader isn’t even their ability to connect with people one on one? Not that this disqualifies anyone.

What if the most important trait to look for in a potential leader is obedience to God? Someone who is willing to be obedient to what God is calling them to do. Someone who isn’t looking for the next ladder to climb or spotlight to stand in, but instead someone in tune with how God is moving in their lives. (Sometimes that movement includes a ladder, or a spotlight, or a brook.)

What’s your criteria for developing leaders? What are you looking for in students as you try to decide who may be able to take the next step?

What’s your criteria for yourself as a leader? When you don’t see the results you want in your own life, what becomes your baseline?

Remember, throughout scripture, God uses ordinary people who practiced obedience. Let’s aim for that today.

The Leadership X Factor

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They must be getting some bad advice.

Look at the people around them, no wonder they’re making the decisions they’re making.

They’ve surrounded themselves with a bunch of “yes-men”.

Have you ever made any of these statements? Have you ever thought about the implications for your own life?

I am wired to try to understand why someone is making the decisions their making. I want to know what information is informing their actions. So, years ago, I discovered something I would consider foundational to my growth: be careful who speaks into your life.

I think we’ve all seen it. A public figure making poor choices, and it seems obvious to us. Or maybe it’s someone we work with, obsessing over something we see as somewhat superfluous.

Or, in the youth ministry experience, it’s someone going to a conference (or reading a book, or listening to a podcast, or reading a blog post) and deciding to immediately implement a new strategy. The new strategy makes sense in the original context, but in another context (our context), it needs to be massaged and developed.

But it all boils down to that outside influence.

Be careful who speaks into your life.

I notice it in my language. The words I use are almost subconsciously influenced by the people I spend time with, or the tv shows I’ve been watching.

When I give my focus and attention to something, I’m not just receiving information, I’m being influenced.

The same goes for the people with whom I talk. So, am I talking to level headed people who are going to help me grow as a person, or am I talking to someone else? Am I surrounding myself with people who are working towards similar goals in a healthy way and facing similar problems, or am I isolating myself?

Today is all about you, on two fronts. First, are you surrounding yourself with the right kind of people–people who make you better, who help push you to more, who help you process what’s happening and how you can approach your role? Or are you surrounding yourself with people who don’t have your best interest at heart?

Second, are you that kind of person to the people around you? Is there someone with whom you need to initiate a conversation today? Not to tell them how to live their lives, but just to be an encouragement? What are you waiting for?

The truth of the matter is our leadership rises and falls partly based on the people who are talking to us. Surround yourself with wisdom, and watch what happens.

Iron Sharpens Iron

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On Tuesday morning I woke up, made coffee, blogged, and then drove three hours for a meeting. For someone who loves his schedule and routine as much as I do, spending half the day on the road was not the perfect use of my time.

But the trip was worth every adjustment I had to make.

Why? Because of the people with whom I got to meet.

I’m a firm believer that the people around us help shape us. Bold statement, right? I’m way out on a ledge with that one.

I place a high value on people who think through what they do. And that’s what I got to participate in Tuesday. Conversations with ministers who are thinking through what they are doing, and WHY they are doing it.

We were there to plan camp, but in all honesty, our summer camp was not the greatest benefactor of our time together. I was.

I love having people in my life who push me. I love having people in my life who challenge me. I love having people in my life who see things differently than I do. I find it invigorating.

That’s why I love the camp I go to each summer. I find myself growing as a leader during the planning process and through the relationships the leaders have away from camp.

But my question for you today is simply this: what peer relationships do you have that breathe life into you? Where do you go for differing perspectives on approaches to life and ministry? What voices are speaking into your life? Are you better because of it?

My hope is this blog is one of those voices. We may or may not actually know one another, but my desire is you will grow as leader as a result of your time reading these posts. I hope you develop a desire to develop leaders as I share about my own process along the way.

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