Make These Three Decisions Today To Unlock Your Leadership

We all face an abundance of decisions during the day. Some of those are as simple as what to wear, what to eat, when to eat and so on. But some decisions take a little more intentionality and thought.

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We all face an abundance of decisions during the day. Some of those are as simple as what to wear, what to eat, when to eat and so on. But some decisions take a little more intentionality and thought.

Today I would like to share with you a simple framework to help you unlock your leadership throughout your day. These are not the end all questions, but they do put us in a place where we are willing to meet the needs that arise around us.

  1. Is This A Situation Where I Need To Be First? Sometimes we meet an opportunity and find ourselves waiting for the response of others. But what if you need to be first? Be the first to send the text or email, to make the phone call, to start the conversation, to acknowledge the problem, or to meet the need? Sometimes leadership is as simple as making the first move and letting people around us respond accordingly. Where do you need to be first today?
  2. Is This A Situation Where I Need To Be Second? A few years back I was shown this video, and it has stuck with me. Every leader needs someone who will respond to their leadership. That includes people with whom you work. Maybe the best leadership move you can make today is to be the first person to go second, thus validating an idea or project. Where do you need to be second today?
  3. Is This A Situation Where I Need To Be Last? I am the type of person who hates to leave, so I always find myself hanging around to the end. But being last isn’t just waiting, it’s serving until the end. Be the last person working, the last person making effort or progress. Being last means you’re setting the tone for what finishing really looks like.

My theory is you do one, maybe two, of these really well. Maybe you like to take charge, or maybe you naturally respond to the leadership of someone else. Great. I’m glad you know that about yourself.

Now, push yourself a little further. Unlock your leadership and push yourself to work on the others. Which of these decisions does not come naturally, and how can you lean into that decision today?

This Might Be the Best Hidden Gem I’ve Found

Yesterday I stumbled onto a podcast interview with Doug Franklin, founder of, and it was solid gold.

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TLDR; Click here for a phenomenal interview on student ministry.

A few years ago I remember having a conversation with a friend who was a faithful reader of this blog. She constantly affirmed me when I needed it, but she was also honest (which was even better). I’m chuckling to myself this morning remembering one comment she made.

“Yeah, when you do your podcast week, I kind of just check out.”

And that was the end of my annual podcast week. Probably for good reason.

But today is an exception. Yesterday I stumbled onto a podcast interview with Doug Franklin, founder of, and it was solid gold.

I’m not going to wax eloquently about it, but if you’re in student ministry, take the time to listen to it. As a 19 year ministry veteran, I found myself consistently nodding my head in agreement, amazed at the insight Doug brought to the discussion.

If you’re not in student ministry, but are invested in the health of student ministers you know, Doug provides some incredible insight for you as well!

Enough talking. Here’s the link to the Total Ministry Makeover podcast Bonus episode with Doug Franklin.

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.

Developing a Student Leadership Team: Know Your Who

My job is not to build great leaders. My job is to maximize the leadership potential in front of me.

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Welcome to a new series titled: Questions to help you start a student leadership team. My goal with these posts is to provide some thoughts and questions to work through as you start a student leadership team. Makes sense, right? You may not agree, and that’s okay! Leave a comment and let me know.

“I just don’t have any leader quality students.” 

“I don’t think they would get it.”

“I don’t have any seniors, how can I start a leadership team?”

At one point or another, all of these thoughts have crossed my mind when trying to decide whether or not to start a leadership team. Then I had a break through.

My job is not to build great leaders. My job is to maximize the leadership potential in front of me.

Do you see the difference?

If I think my job is to build great leaders, then I naturally want to start with highly capable students. Students who are leading already, or are popular, or mature. Eventually the checklist of what we’re looking for grows cumbersome.

If I think my job is to maximize the leadership potential of the students in front of me, then I want to start at a different place-with students who are willing.

Oops, spoiler alert. But let me say it again in a different way so you can catch it.

When it comes to developing leaders, willingness beats talent.

If a student has a natural inclination towards leadership but is unwilling to grow, guess what? You’re going to beat your head against the wall trying to help them grow. You can provide opportunities, but at the end of the day, we do not get to make decisions for those around us. We are not puppet masters. 

If a student, however, is willing to grow as a leader, then the game changes. Their willing desire to grow and to make the most of a situation will repeatedly result in progress you cannot imagine. With a willing student, you can provide opportunities and watch them respond in ways you cannot imagine. 

I cannot overstate this enough. If you’re looking to start a leadership team, or even help a few students grow in their understanding of leadership, look for willingness to make a difference (not willingness to have a title).

There’s an implied understanding here: everyone can be a leader. The degree of influence we have on people around us will vary from person to person, but everyone has the potential.

One last word: of course, a student who has both willingness and a natural inclination to leadership is the ideal. I would never argue against talent, but I will always argue against talent alone. 

My name is Wes, and this is my leadership hot take.

Developing a Student Leadership Team: Know Your Why

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Why do we need to learn this? When will I ever use this in real life? 

And so goes the familiar refrain in math classes all over the country. The core question being asked reveals an innate desire in each of us: we want to understand why?

As we learn to pour into and develop leaders around us, whether students or adults, understanding why we are setting out on this journey sets the guardrails for our process.  

What follows are three answers I’ve used to the question of why:

  1. To lighten the load. One church where I served had very little adult involvement, and even less interest in serving. As the student ministry began growing, I realized there was a significant need to help get simple tasks accomplished, so we established a student leadership team. Students on this team led worship, set up the room, prayed over requests and chairs, greeted, ran media, and filled gaps as needed. This was a remarkable team that met a specific need in that season.
  2. To bless others. Sometimes, establishing a leadership team isn’t about what it does for us, but what it provides for others. Some people (students included) are simply waiting to be invited to serve. Then, once the invitation has been extended, they find incredible joy in jumping in and finding their role and their place with all that’s happening. Having this why changes our approach—we are not inviting people to join just so they can serve us, but because it serves them. This is true for students, as well. Providing a student an opportunity and place to serve is an incredible way to help them discover the purpose God has for their life!
  3. To grow ourselves. The most intentional I ever became about developing a student leadership team was when I started to become intentional about growing myself. As I started to explore what it meant to grow in leadership, I invited students along for the journey. We embarked on a process that led all of us to new heights, and something for which I’ve been incredibly grateful all along the way.

Now, obviously the best why is a mix of the three reasons listed above, or maybe even something you’re going to develop on your own. The importance is coming up with your why and sticking to it.

If we have no vision and no direction, we will wander aimlessly. Discover your why.

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