I apologise for the blogging irregularity. These days, I’ve written many drafts but struggled to finish them. August looks demanding – I preach three out of four weeks and facilitate two iJourney sessions. My DYLM cell also coincides with my preaching weekends which leads to a double preparation of teaching materials. It’s also the vision-casting, planning and budgeting month. R-AGE @ GII is also growing with some steady momentum… Basically, everything is coming together all at once – I had better spend more time seeking God.
I do delight in developing my gifts though. I’m keeping my fingers crossed (and my hands clasped in prayer) on a potential ministry opportunity; if that takes off, 2011 looks set to be the most defining year of my (ministry) life thus far. I await with bated breath. Oh God, baptise me in wisdom!
You know, it’s easy to lead when everything’s smooth-sailing. I remember being inspired by DZ’s testimony when I (visited Sydney for the first time and) attended Hillsong Conference 2007. She shared about how she continued leading worship despite her miscarriage; it must have been a tough time for her and the church to experience the loss of a life – that’s transparent leadership for you.
Needless to say, I believe that all regular leaders and mentors (around me) had to lead through tough times too. I often wondered how much inspiration and perspiration they needed to draw from and produce respectively to pull through a rough patch. Here are the ten things I’d recommend for a leader to do when he doesn’t feel like leading, or adequate enough to be a leader, or simply when the chips are down.
1. Share only what’s necessary. You don’t need to give the details of your drought(s) and disaster(s) if you don’t have to. Employ discernment and choose with care whom you share life with. My recommendation – your family, partner, leaders/mentors, cell group, closest friends.
2. Remember that troubles are tempory. Bad times will pass – they usually do not last forever. Often, you end up doubling the pain because you choose to inflict blame on yourself for things beyond your control. Remember, God uses trials and tests to bring out the best in you.
3. Re-create your self-confidence. This is personal because I thrive on confidence. Surround yourself not just with people who love you but also those who desire God’s best for you – they usually have the right words. Let them put the pat on your back that pushes out your chest.
4. Do not dramatise. When you go through a terrible season, you don’t need to convince yourself that it’s worse than what it already is. Healthy pessimism can be helpful, but an overdose could leave you in the trail of destruction. When you are, learn to leave the bad news in the middle.
5. Avoid all loose talk. The last thing you want is to get embroiled in someone else’s misfortunes or to gloat about others to make yourself feel good. Don’t justify your situation and don’t discuss it. Cut off all gossip and secret conversations for they won’t improve your situation anyway.
6. Always remain loyal. As a leader, the biggest mistake you can make is to sell out your team of subordinates, peers and superiors. Teams are accepting of a leader who acknowledges his faults and makes a genuine attempt to atone himself. In your failures, they are still your team.
7. Continue to teach high standards. When the going gets tough, don’t compromise all that you’ve held on to and advocated. Conversely speaking, you should persist and insist high moral standards for those around you. Know that they are observing for your integrity in action.
8. Expect people’s manipulation. Look, it’s a dog-eat-dog world and there will be people who will want to capitalise on your weaknesses to gain an unfair advantage for themselves. Be innocent as doves and shrewd as serpents; don’t allow others to use you like a tool.
9. Be mindful of your speech. Know that everything you say can be quoted; the higher your public profile, the more you will be quoted. In times like these you must exercise restraint. Most leaders have an opinion about everything but it doesn’t mean they need to share every thought.
10. Raise your own bar. In this recovery period, as you consolidate, ask yourself this question – “Would you be fulfilled if you were to keep following someone like you?” Don’t ever shortchange yourself. Your appetite to improve skills and develop character should remain insatiable.
Hope that was helpful for you. For me, I’ll try to pick up my blogging momentum.
The iJourney team came together for a final coordination meeting on Sunday evening. Most of them were worried about whether they were able to connect with teenagers so much younger than they were. So I found the opportunity to share with them some really simple tips and insights on what I think would help them to engage young people.
However, I didn’t share this prelude with them so I’ll share it here instead. I believe that there are several important rules you must observe before you attempt to engage youths. Firstly, you need to be patient and to manage your expectations. They must be convinced that you are willing to have fun with them and that you are not here to judge them. I remember RY telling me how I have to first play with them, before they will pray with me. Before they listen to you, they must first be convinced of your sincerity.
Next, you must be willing to be genuinely interested to speak their language (or their lingo), or at least make an effort to understand what they are interested in. Failure to do so usually results in a talk-down instead of the desired talk-to. I also believe that young people whom you are meeting for the first time are usually more afraid to speak to you than you are of them; the one who makes the first move to converse usually succeeds. (On that note, I think RY has an uncanny ability to connect with youths.)
With these basic ground rules established, there are just three steps to remember in the progression of a conversation with a young person.
- Firstly, learn to exchange information – “How do you find this?”
- Next, learn to exchange opinions – “What do you think about this?”
- Lastly, learn to exchange emotions – “How do you feel about this?”
Why don’t you try it and tell me if it works? The six iJourney facilitators and I will be testing this method as you read this post. Remember to keep us in prayer – may we find connect with the students and plant seeds into their lives!
“Leadership is a process of influence. Anytime you seek to influence the thinking, behaviour, or development of people in their personal or professional lives, you are taking on the role of a leader.” (Blanchard & Hodges)
Of the countless number of leaders who have influenced me in my decade of development as a leader, the two men with the greatest influence in my life at this point in time would undoubtedly be RY and PL. While RY has sharpened me in ministerial skills and PL in my relational skills, I cannot quite compartmentalise their influence in my life because they have taught me so many invaluable life skills in both arenas.
I am quietly confident enough to believe that God has used me well over the last decade as an influence with a good number of (young) people; I say this adorning a hat of privilege, not pride. I’ve had opportunities to take up leadership positions wherever I’ve gone and it has certainly aided my personal character development. Now I am given the privilege to have direct influence over the REAL kids, the leadership core of the G2 Youth Community as well as the youths that I personally mentor.
A jump in thought here, but the question then is, “Am I seeking to serve or to be served?” As far as I know, my leaders have always served me and to the best of my ability to be honest, I’d also like to think that I’ve been serving those under my leadership. After all, I always believe that there’s almost nothing for me to gain or lose when I lead people; it’s always for their own good, not mine. Thankfully, this leadership ethos that I have adopted over the years is consistent with the leadership model that I will now actively adopt – the one of Jesus Christ.
But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)
Regardless of whether I serve in the ministry or marketplace arena, taking on the leadership legacy left behind by Jesus is never going to be an easy call. In a society where the outspoken ones are apparently deemed as the “best” leaders, the meekness of Jesus greatly opposes our educated mindset. It is especially prevalent for me because I fall into the category of a vocal leader who is always seen and heard. Hence I have much to learn before the promise of an inheritance of the earth is given to me (ref. Matthew 5:5).
I must condition myself to learn the power of listening intently, keeping silence and withholding opinion. This year, it is my earnest prayer that God will raise my leadership effectiveness and influence to a whole new level for His sole glory. The leadership style of Jesus focuses a lot on the workings of the insides instead of the works on the outsides. I desire to develop to be and to lead like Jesus, not just to do what Jesus did or would do.
In conclusion, I aspire to consider this thought in all my dealings with people and situations: WWJB – Who Would Jesus Be?