Lessons from the Farm: Don’t Leave Cattle on the Truck

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This week I am going to finish up my first theme. I’m calling these posts “Lessons from the Farm”. You can read the first post here, or click the Lessons from the Farm Category to the left.

Just a little background: My lesson today comes from a more recent learning. A few years back, I took a break from full time ministry to serve bi-vocationally. During that time, farming and ranching was my main income, but the lessons learned have not left me yet.

A winter weather storm was moving our direction one day, and it was time to buy more cattle (2 Semi trucks and one 40 foot stock trailer worth). That meant we had three trips from the sale barn to the farm, and only two drivers.

My dad and I made the first trip, he was in the truck and I was in the pickup pulling the stock trailer. We unloaded at home around 7:30, and decided to ride back together, arriving back at the sale barn at 9pm behind 8 trucks waiting to load.

While we waited, the winter storm hit. Snow started lightly falling at first. Eventually, the brunt of storm hit and we were waiting in a snow covered parking lot. Our trailer was still empty.

We got home, unloaded, and walked into our houses that night well after midnight. My pregnant wife was struggling awake, waiting to make sure we got home safely.

The lesson: We never left cattle on the trucks. Weather, exhaustion, anger, confusion, or any other reason. We always worked until the job was done.

Thursday I will finish unpacking what I learned from that night. Until then, I’ll leave you with this question: are you willing to drive an 18-wheeler loaded with cattle through a snow storm to finish the task at hand? What are you leaving unfinished that needs to be finished?

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Lessons from the Farm: Same Destination, Different Paths

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Welcome to my series called “Lessons from the Farm”. You can read the other posts here.

Just a little background: I grew up working on my Dad’s farm. As I’ve grown older and spent more time away, there are few leadership principles I have realized along the way.

When I got into high school, my dad started raising more cattle. Part of raising cattle is moving them from one place to another. Over the years, we moved countless herds.

A lesson I had to quickly learn was to find the balance between knowing the destination and not getting stuck on having to stay on one single path. Map quest will not map out a path for a cattle drive.

When moving cattle you have to know your destination and push the herd in the general direction, understanding sometimes you’re not going to move in a straight line.

The same is true in leadership. Knowing our destination is vitally important, but we have to be careful about being completely tied to the path we’ve laid out. If we are unwilling or unable to adjust to the unexpected detours or slight course alterations, we become too rigid and no one wants to follow us.

Learning how to lead includes learning how to accommodate the unexpected and use the forward momentum to move toward the destination.

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perspective

Lessons from the Farm: Perspective

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From 2009 to 2012 I worked for my dad farming and ranching. I was bivocational, farming most of the week and serving a church the rest. Then, in 2012 I moved my family to Bronte where we have been serving ever since.

I remember early on, after coming back to full time ministry, having a particularly rough day with issues at the church, when my brother (who also works with my dad) sent me a picture that trumped any problem I thought I had.

They were moving a truckload of cattle through a pasture and went over a cattle guard. After clearing the guard, the back axle fell off the trailer. A trailer loaded with about 60,000 lbs of cattle. The 18-wheeler was now a 12-wheeler and stranded in a pasture.

Sometimes, perspective is what a leader really needs. Things may not be as bad as you think they are. Sometimes, they are.

For me, that day, my problems were less significant than losing an axle, and I was grateful.

 

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Learning to Let Go

Learn to Let Go

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Leadership development is a growth process. Sometimes, leadership development is a glacially slow growth process.

One thing I have learned along the way (and I’m quite certain the people most responsible for my own leadership development experienced the same thing), sometimes letting go is the best move.

Not letting go and giving up.

Not letting go and walking away.

Not letting go and waiting for failure.

Let go and trust. Trust that growth can happen. Trust that mistakes made can lead to lessons learned. Trust the end result will be worth the effort.

Along the way, in order for you to have grown, someone had to trust you. Are you grateful for those opportunities? Are you ready to return the favor?

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Trust the Process, A Follow-Up

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Okay, let me clarify a little from Tuesday’s post, especially for my friend at Red Phog (follow him on Twitter here).

With any process, there is one major variable to keep in mind: context matters.

Context is everything, especially in leadership. As we lead people, we understand that no two people are the same, and that everyone responds in a unique way.

I have served at five different churches over my time in ministry. No body of believers is the same. My roles at each church have varied based on the needs of the church.

What worked at one place may not work at another because you’re dealing with a new set of people, a new cultural context, and a new set of experiences.

For example, at my current church we take a short service trip over Spring Break and it is very well attended. At my last church, the majority of families traveled over spring break, so the same trip would not have worked as well.

Context matters. Be careful to blindly institute a process without first understanding the context in which you’re serving.

But sometimes, with experience and evaluation of the situation, it’s okay to trust the process.

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