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!

Three Online Leadership Workshop Insights

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Last week, I did an online training for my student leadership team. It was something I talked about for two Thursdays in a row (here and here). So I thought I would finish this mini series with three key insights about our time together.

  1. Time invested in training is a win. There was something about getting a group of six students on a call, fostering discussion and thought, and helping them work through some servant leadership concepts. Just as a reminder, as I’ve established this team this semester, one of my biggest regrets was not having a training of some sort, so our time together last week was well worth it!
  2. Working through leadership concepts is a win. The framework for our training was simple: the three questions. While I don’t think the three questions are a magical framework, they provide a common language to put us all on the same path moving forward. And that’s the point. We were able to talk through what answering the questions may look like in our “old” (in person) format, and what it might look like in our online meetings.
  3. Nothing beats in person connection, but online training works. At the end of the day, our student ministry Zoom call was better last night because of the time our student leaders spent together on Thursday. We set one specific action step, which most of them followed through, and their influence and engagement last night was felt.

So, let me ask you a simple question: What are you doing to train and develop student leaders right now? You may not have the structure or infrastructure to have an online training, but you can connect with students who show potential. We have an incredible opportunity to make the most of time for at least another month. What can you do to train leaders?

And for what it’s worth, I would be thrilled to talk through some options if you need a sounding board. I’m here for you because I want you to expand your leadership influence. You can do this, now do it.

Train Student Leaders

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Last week I shared a couple thoughts I had about developing student leaders during this unprecedented experience. Today, I’m executing one of those ideas.

I’m doing an online leadership workshop for my small group of student leaders. Just to recap: they applied to be on the team in January, and we started meeting twice a week: a follow up to our midweek program (about 10 minutes max), and each Sunday before small groups for prayer.

The follow up meetings are something I’ve done (and valued) in the past, but as we got a few weeks into the process, I realized the question I was asking had no real frame of reference with this group. So today I’m teaching the 3 questions over a zoom call.

I’m a little apprehensive about the delivery method. Teaching to a computer screen, even if I can see everyone else, still feels like I’m talking to myself. The content is going to be pretty simple, and I’ve taught this multiple times before (not to mention blogging about it), but again, the delivery is going to be most interesting.

At the end of the day, my biggest goal is to introduce these students to some shared language. If we can all get on the same page and move forward with it, then it will be interesting to see where we go from here.

So, what are you doing to train student leaders? If you were going to set up a Zoom call and do an online leadership workshop/training, how would you approach it? What are you waiting for?

Even if you don’t work with student leaders, how can you gather and train those you influence in the coming days?

Student Leadership Development and COVID19

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Back when I was starting to help develop what we now call Horizon Leadership Camp, I set out to ask as many youth minsters as possible one question: What are you doing to develop student leaders?

In the process of asking the question, I came to a conclusion: developing student leaders, while important, doesn’t take a front seat in the midst of the demands of student ministry. Instead, it gets pushed back into the realm of “if I have time”.

I wonder if in the midst of the chaos of self-isolation and social distancing we are once again pushing developing student leaders to the back. It’s only natural. I’ll confess that this week, in spite of my passion for leadership, I’ve not spent much time trying to come to grips with what student leadership looks like in our current context.

Thankfully, for today, I get to turn my focus to it. Here are two opportunities as we move forward:

  1. Gather student leaders, however possible, to evaluate. Our student ministry hosted a Zoom call last night, and it went pretty well, but I treasure evaluation. If I can get student leaders to help me think through things that went poorly and things that went really well, then everyone wins. The great thing about Zoom is everyone gets a voice.
  2. Gather student leaders to train them. I’ve mentioned previously that I regret not having a training with these student leaders to give us shared language, so guess what? It’s time to schedule a training! We don’t have conflicts for a few weeks, so now is a great time. It may not be ideal, but the opportunity is undoubtedly there.

As time rolls on and as our next steps become more and more clear, I’m sure that I will come up with other plans, but the biggest key is to not let leadership development go dormant in the midst of the chaos of ministry during COVID19.

So, what are you doing to develop student leaders during this time? Comment below!

3 Tips to Navigate an Unclear Future

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We are living in a strange time. I have so many thoughts and questions about what is happening all around us, but so few answers.

I would not say I’m worried about COVID19, but more worried about the implications it carries for the next few weeks. Every day for the past 7 days has been a roller coaster of emotion, and I feel like we are only seeing the beginning.

So, what does that mean for leadership? Here are three things I’m keeping out front as we navigate the coming weeks:

  1. Learn from others. One of my favorite ways of leading is to learn from what other people are doing. What is working? What is not working? What sounds like a contextual win and what would make sense for my setting? If I can come out of the 2nd quarter of 2020 having picked up some leadership lessons, then I’ll be better for it moving forward.
  2. Swing big. One of my favorite things about Youth Ministry is the ease with which we can introduce changes. Students live in a world of change, so they seem to be a little less resistant than adults. So, that means we have an opportunity to swing big in the next few weeks. We can try things we would have never considered, all for the sake of staying connected. As I process options, this post comes to mind.
  3. Be intentional. If gathering together is one of the strengths of the church as we know it (and I think it is), we have to be intentional in the days ahead. We have to be intentional about maintaining connections. We have to be intentional about checking in on those in our sphere of influence. We have to be intentional to nurture leadership in those around us.

At the end of the day, we will likely look back on this time of our lives and always ask if we handled our opportunities well. I hope both of us remember these days as something great in spite of the circumstances.

What are you doing to make sure you’re still prepared and ready moving forward?

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