Connect with Other Leaders

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I got to spend the first part of my week at the Texas Baptist Youth Ministry Conclave in Arlington this week. For years I have always gone with the intent of connecting with friends and picking some insight up along the way.

This year, I was reminded why I enjoy connecting with other ministers.

I worked the booth for Horizon Camps and Resources, so I was able to interact with a variety of people. We gave away YooHoo (the official camp drink of Horizon Camps), but the better part was being able to reconnect with friends I have developed along the way.

One minister, in particular, I engage several times each year, but Tuesday I realized how much we had in common, and I was grateful for an opportunity to process some things together.

Today’s lesson is a simple one, but it’s this: connect with other leaders. If you are able to network regularly, keep it up! If you are one of the people who naturally engage with others, embrace that.

But, if you’re like me, I intentionally force myself to connect. Not because I think I am better, but because connections do not come easily for me.

Who are two leaders with whom you identify and respect? What would it take to call them up and invite them to coffee, or to do a video call if the distance is too great?

The truth is we pursue what is important to us. If growth is important, you will pursue it. If connection is important, you will pursue it. If relationship is important, you will pursue it. But, if your priorities are somewhere else, you will avoid the others out of necessity.

Make connecting with other leaders an intentional part of you life and priorities, and see what happens next.

Never Lose Sight of the One

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Today’s post is going to be ministry specific, but it plays a role in leadership as well.

When I think back to the influential ministers in my life, very few of them became influencers because they stood at the front of the room.

There was my youth pastor who would stay after Wednesday service for an hour or more talking with me and a friend or two about all sorts of random things, until my parents called the church to see if I was okay.

There was the pastor who saw something in me and started spending time with me each week, helping me grow in my faith.

There was my coach/youth pastor who would put in extra time with me on the basketball court, giving me tips for improving my jump shot or baby hook.

Ultimately each of those people spent that time with me away from their “stage”. As a result, when they stood on the stage (or at the front of the room), their words carried so much more weight. They cared about me, and I knew it.

The same is true for us in leadership, especially in ministry. We have to be willing to spend time investing in individuals. When we do, the words we say from the stage carry more weight.

But there’s more to it than just being able to influence someone. Investment makes a difference.

When we invest in someone, we experience compassion for what they’re going through in life. Learn how to ask questions about what is going on in their life, and take a genuine interest.

When we invest in someone, we experience frustration because people are flawed (newsflash–you’re flawed too, and that may be where your frustration comes from).

When we invest in someone, we experience hope. As we get to know someone, we get a peek into what they could become, and then as a leader we get to help them realize that potential!

The bottom line is this: in leadership, never lose sight of the one. Foster relationships that provide a greater opportunity for impact and watch what happens next!

Build Your Community

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I fancy myself a runner. Well, at least I used to be. I’ve never been fast, but a few years back I trained for a half marathon, and found I really enjoy a nice run. I’m back in it now, but it’s been a slow process.

More than the training, however, I’m part of a group of people who run and share our run stats with each other. This is not a group where we brag about how fast we are, but we all encourage one another to keep up the good work.

And that encouragement means the world.

I’m also part of what I facetiously call a “brain trust” with two fellow ministers. We get together periodically for coffee and to talk about ministry. Our primary goal is to provide each other with a safe outlet for processing situations, and to sharpen one another.

The bottom line is this: we need people who will encourage us and help us become better.

We all need accountability and encouragement. This is especially true in leadership.

Something I have noticed, though, is not everyone leans toward surrounding themselves with a group like these. I don’t think it’s a introvert/extrovert thing, because I am an introvert who values a group meeting. And I don’t think it’s a time in ministry thing, either.

I think some people are wired to ask for advice and help, and others are not. The reality, however, is the challenges we face will be significantly more manageable when we have done the hard work of creating a network of people who will encourage, correct, advocate, and brainstorm with us.

Who gives you advice and perspective? Who gives you genuine affirmation? Who wants you to become a better leader? Give those people access to your life and watch the difference.

 

Motivation and Leadership

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Let’s talk about Student Leadership today. More specifically, let’s talk about developing Students with leadership potential.

Over the past 5 years I have had a student leadership team of some sort. The intensity has increased each year as I try to find the right balance between commitment and over commitment.

A few years back, I thought differently about how to bring student leaders into the fold. There were a couple of girls who I thought showed incredible leadership potential, so I went to them and invited them to apply for the leadership team. They did, and what unfolded over the next year was unexpected.

“You cannot motivate people to do something they don’t want to do.” This statement was the focus of a conversation I had last week, and something that has been bouncing around my head ever since.

I think the temptation we have as leaders is to believe we CAN motivate people. We are good with words, maybe even charming. But the truth of the statement above shows us motivation does not last. Instead, we need to find people who are motivated and equip them.

This is the struggle I found in student leadership years ago. I saw potential in a few, but they were not motivated to be part of our leadership team, so things went south over time.

Now I focus my energy on the kids who show some level of motivation. I may not have as many, and I still see potential in others, but the fruit comes from the motivated ones.

So, as you look around your leadership realm, who are you pouring effort into but they simply lack the motivation? Who around you shows a level of motivation? How can you pour into and strengthen them?

One last thought: everyone is motivated to do something. The challenge for us as leaders, and as church leaders especially, is to get to know people well enough to discover what motivates them. Build relationships. Love the individual. Help them grow.

Leadership and Yard Work

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Yesterday was a milestone for me as a father. I have a busy week this week, so I took some time yesterday morning to mow my yard. This time around, however, was different. I had a helper.

My 10 year old, earlier this summer, went through Papa and Mimi Lawnmower training. So, naturally, as I prepared to mow yesterday, I recruited her to help. She was scared to try a bigger mower, so I had her edge until I got to one spot we agreed would be her spot.

Now, having grown up on the farm, I remember how this works on tractors. My dad would make the first round, then put me on the tractor to finish the rest. So I did the same.

I made the first round and it was ready for Anna. So, I called her over, had her sit down on the mower, and gave her the orientation. Throttle. Mower blades. Forward. Reverse. Brake. She was ready.

I stepped back and was ready to gloat at my incredible lawn mowing daughter. Then she took off. The first 5 seconds were magical, then I realized she couldn’t see where I had gone the first time.

She turned way too early. Skipped a mower width away from my initial cut, and consistently turned short, leaving skips on the ends.

Strangely enough, at this point I was not upset or angered. I only chuckled to myself and called her over. I pointed out where she missed, gave her some tips, and sent her on her way again, still watching.

Can you guess what happened next? She still made mistakes. So, I called her over and showed her a trick that I learned decades ago, and let her go at it again.

The leadership principle here? When we let someone do something new, we have to remember they don’t have the experience or judgment we have at the moment. Actually, we would do well to remind ourselves of the mistakes we made when we first started.

But, if you want to expand your leadership influence, you are going to have to fight the battle between “I can do better myself” and “I do not have time to do this.”

My daughter is years away from being a professional yard care expert, but this summer she has had a great start.

Everyone has to start somewhere. The question becomes, are we going to give them their start or not?

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