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.

Want to Develop Others? Start Here.

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What does it take to start a leadership team? More specifically, for student ministers, what does it take to develop student leaders? I’m going to spend some time over the next few weeks hashing out some of my thoughts. I hope they help!

As I’ve been on a journey of intentionally growing and developing leaders around me, there’s one thing that I am slowly but surely becoming more and more certain of: the importance of growing ourselves.

Put another way, we can not expect to grow other leaders if we do not have a growth plan for ourselves.

Seems like a simple statement, right? But I think it’s one of the biggest hang ups we, as leaders, face. 

As ministers, it’s too easy for us to settle into an event planning mindset-planning for the next program that’s never more than 7 days away. Then add the major events we plan, and with minimal effort our calendar is filled. 

We become very good at doing our job, but miss the benefit of the work we do. 

That’s why it’s important to think through what you’re doing to develop as a leader. Are you growing? Are you being intentional about your growth? Do you have goals that you set and visit regularly? 

Let me try this again. Answer these questions on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 6 (considerable growth).

  1. How much have you grown as a leader in the past 12 months?
  2. How much have you grown as a leader in the past 6 months?
  3. How much have you grown as a leader in the past 3 months?

What’s your answer? Do you see a trend? 

Maybe you’re satisfied with your answers, and if so, I’m thrilled for you! 

Maybe your answers are a little discouraging. If so, I’m cheering for you!

Maybe your answers are inconclusive. If so, I’m cheering for you.

Ultimately, if we want to help those around us grow, we have to take the initiative to grow ourselves. John Maxwell says, “We cannot lead anyone farther than we have been ourselves.”

So, how do you grow yourself? There are so many ways, but here’s one of the things I’ve done the past three years: set goals for growth. Pick a date about 3 months out and set a goal to read X number of books. Then, be intentional in doing so. If there are questions to be answered, answer them. If there’s an evaluation tool, use it. Then, after the set time, evaluate and see how you’ve grown. Then adjust and grow some more.

I’m curious. If you’d say you’ve grown lately, what have you done? What works for you?

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!

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!

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