Archives For Leadership

One of the greatest challenges in leading in ministry is finding the balance between planning/strategy and empowering/releasing. I don’t like messy. But I wholeheartedly believe that you have two options: You can either Control or Empower. You can’t do both. Control is orderly. Empowerment is messy.

There’s a lot of wisdom on this topic in a recent post by Jon Hietbrink:

surfingMany organizations run like machines–they thrive on alignment, order, discipline, and consistency, but movements are like organisms–they feed on change, complexity, empowerment, and freedom.

Most of the ministries we lead are some combination of both organization and movement.

I cringe at the inference that anything planned or organized is somehow less influenced by the Spirit [love this sentence!]. That said, I’m increasingly aware of our need as leaders to become experts at calibrating the edge of chaos–we’ll never catch a movement by hanging back in consistently safe places devoid of risk and adventure, but we’ll also never see exponential growth if we go boldly careening over the edge of chaos and into the abyss of confusion and disorder. How then do we navigate this tension? How do we surf the edge of chaos?

As a leader who actually tends toward order and structure, it’s been important for me to embrace the chaos as appropriate and good. If we want movement, it won’t be easy, clean, or predictable, and part of the journey for us as leaders is settling this in our souls–our tolerance of ambiguity and uncertainty has to increase.

We must foster environments of interdependence where folks are not just allowed, but encouraged to seek help from any and every source. A mentor of mine used to tell me that the job of a leader is to build “webs, not wheels”– an ever-expanding web of interconnected, interdependent parts, not a wheel where all the spokes connect back to me at the center [great metaphor- webs, not wheels!].

I encourage you to read the whole thing here.

 

How are you learning to surf the edge of chaos as you lead a movement?

 

photo courtesy of chausinho

hbrSome interesting insights on leading Millennials from Harvard Business Review:

They share well with others (and expect to be shared with):

They are adept at finding information and expect it to be readily available. They are comfortable reaching out directly to people in a way that can be disconcerting to older employees whose workplace relationships have traditionally been constrained by the organization’s hierarchy.

As Nilofer Merchant has observed, social technology is changing the nature of power in organizations.

When you are accustomed to and skilled at finding and freely sharing information, it makes no sense to have information locked up in various parts of an organizational structure. In fact, it feels frustratingly antiquated. What this means for older managers: they must shift from being controllers of information to facilitators of its sharing and collaborative use towards achieving organizational goals.

I love this and think it’s extremely encouraging for the future of world-changing enterprises. Sharing and collaboration FTW.

 

What motivates Millennials is what motivates all employees:

It’s crucial to understand what motivates Millennials. The most powerful tool to build Millennials’ commitment to the organization is this: offering regular opportunities to learn and develop — not just through training, but through a variety of challenging tasks, the opportunity to work with people who impart valuable knowledge, and regular developmental feedback. As it turns out, this is how you build commitment in employees of all ages.

Despite what the stereotype might suggest, effectively engaging Millennials is not about letting employees wear jeans and bring their dogs to work, dude. The key is providing challenging, meaningful work, communicating, helping employees to see their contribution, and making sure they have opportunities to learn and grow.

 

In college ministry, I think we provide ample opportunities for:

  • Challenging, meaningful work
  • Opportunities to learn and develop

I think what we could improve on is “helping them see their contribution”.

Whether this is student leaders or Interns/Staff – we could improve at clearing communicating:

  • “THIS is the meaningful, challenging work that you are doing.”
  • “Here are 4 ways you are going to learn and develop this year.”
  • “Through doing _____ you made a unique contribution and lives were changed eternally.”

A little intentional communication could help Millennials connect the dots in realizing that they actually ARE doing challenging, meaningful work that is making a difference.

 

What are your favorite takeaways from the HBR excerpts?

 

Andy Stanley’s wrap up talk was one of the best of the conference. The topic was not new: work from your strengths. But it was presented with such clarity and in very practical terms. Great, great stuff.

You can watch a similar talk he gave at Dallas Seminary in 2007. And 3 minutes from a VERY similar talk he gave at Catalyst West right here:

Here’s my notes from his talk (my favorite points are bolded):
  • I had the mistaken idea that great leaders are great at everything
  • The other idea I had is what leaders did is when leaders found weaknesses they found ways to shore up their weaknesses
  • My fully exploited strengths were a far greater value to our organization than my marginally improved weaknesses
  • Your weaknesses will always be weaknesses compared to your strengths
  • How to have a great organization – create space for the leaders in your org to fully exploit their strengths and delegate their weaknesses to people who have those strengths
  • It’s natural and necessary to set the pace
  • So in the early days of org life it’s natural that you do everything
  • In the early days there’s no one else to do it
  • So we get into the habit of doing things that we really have no business doing
  • We accidentally set very low standards for our org b/c we’re doing the best that we can do in areas of weakness
  • The best thing you can do for your org is step out of areas that you’re only prettty good at in order to create space for people who are really good at it
  • One of the best things you can do is drop a ball and wait for someone to come pick it up
  • Someone comes by and says – “someone needs to work on _____.” They are the people to work on that area (not you)
  • If we do everything, we never create margin for people to step into leadership
  • The less you do, the more you accomplish
  • Not taking 30 hour work week
Two of the best kept secrets of Leadership:

 

  1. The less you do, the more you accomplish
    1. (The fewer areas you delve into, the less you focus on – the more you will accomplish)
  2. The less you do, the more you enable others to accomplish

 

  • Here’s the target: Only do what only you can do
  • Instead of doing more and more – you will do fewer and fewer things better and better
When leaders drift from their core competencies, three things happen:
  1. Their effectiveness diminish – when I do things that I don’t do well, things don’t go well
  2. The effectiveness of other leaders in the org diminish (When you do things you’re not good at, you interfere with others who are good at it)
  3. The ability of the org to get and keep great leaders diminishes
  • Great leaders want to be set loose and set free to do what God designed them to do
  • Your favorite job is where someone else set you up and then just let you go to work
  • It won’t even feel like a job to you
  • This is such a big deal with us, every time our org grows, my assistant says, “we’ve added this, Andy what do you want to stop doing now?”
  • Now that we are growing, what would you like to stop doing? What do you want to put on your To-Don’t list”.
  • I don’t want to give up control, bc I feel I can do better than everyone else
  • As the org gets bigger, the only way to sustain growth is to do fewer things better and let other people take on new areas
  • It feels like you are going backwards – people won’t think I’m working as hard
Why leaders miss this principle
  • Some leaders buy into the myth of being well-rounded
  • Tip: Great achievers are not “well-rounded”. They are men and women who play to their strengths and delegate their weaknesses. They have a well-rounded organization
  • The greatest leaders you meet are not well-rounded. They have extraordinary strengths and extraordinary weaknesses – that they surround themselves with excellent people
  • Leaders forget to distinguish between their authority and their core competencies
  • As a leader you will always have authority over areas you don’t know much about
  • They either think they need to become an expert or pretend to be an expert
  • Why couldn’t they just walk in here and say, wow – you know a lot more about this area then me. I’m going to fuel your expertise and let you run
  • That doesn’t mean you don’t ask questions.
  • You walk into that area – I may be the authority but I am not the expert. I don’t know as much about this area as my people do
  • Tip: Leverage your authority as little as possible. Make as few decisions as possible.
  • You wanna raise up leaders? “I’ll let you make this decision” is the key
  • I’ll let you decide that. “That’s a good question – I’ll let you guys make that decision”
  • You wanna know why great decision makers in your org never surface? You make all the decisions for everyone
  • You wanna know who is great at making decisions? – let people make decisions
  • Make as few decisions as possible. Do not make a decision unless you must.
  • Shove those decision down into the org
  • You are training leaders
  • You will never know who is a leader unless you make them make decisions
  • Let people make some bad decisions (even if it costs you money – We didn’t waste money – that’s just money we spent on your development)
  • There’s people who work for you who are scared to death to make a mistake
  • When people fear for their job, people start hiding info b/c they’re afraid of how you’ll respond
  • Some leaders are not able to distinguish between their competencies and their non-competencies.
  • Tip: You are not the smartest person in your org. You are just the Leaders.
  • This is very impt to know.
  • Anyone want to know why I am the leader at Northpoint? I just got there first
  • I’m not the best leader. I’m not the smartest.
  • We get to be in charge because we started it
  • The sooner you are able to discern between your strengths and weaknesses, the better your org is going to be
  • If you’re not sure what you’re not good at, ask the people who work for you
  • The are all very aware of it and are glad you finally figured it out
  • Where I am exercising authority where I am not strong, only average
  • Don’t hide behind your weaknesses
  • Lean into what God had gifted you in and called you to do
  • Some leaders feel guilty delegating their weaknesses
  • There are things we need to hand off that we don’t want to do, and I assume nobody wants to do it
  • We think everyone is designed like us
  • Your weakness is somebody else’s opportunity
  • You are robbing someone of an opportunity
  • Some leaders don’t take the time to develop other leaders
  • We serve a mission that is dependent on leadership multiplication
  • We in the church should be the preeminent leadership developers
  • One of the reasons you can’t lean into your strengths is because you don’t develop leaders
  • Leadership is not primarily about getting things done right
  • It’s about getting things done thru other people
  • The only way to do that is to allow people around you to do things not exactly the way you would do it
  • Acts 6– it would not be right (or it would be wrong) for us to neglect the ministry of God to wait on tables)
  • We’re going to do what only we can do (bc we were in the boat with Him, we saw his miracles, we are uniquely equipped to teach the Word)
  • Look what Luke tells us happens – the proposal pleased the whole group (the only time in Church history that happened!)
  • Suddenly some new names are introduced into the history of the church
  • Because suddenly some new opportunities existed because the big 3 leaders stepped aside and focused on core strengths
  • What happened – the word of God spread. The numbers increased rapidly
  • Would you like the number of Jesus followers in your area to increase rapidly?
  • They did less – they accomplished more
  • Other names surfaced and the church grew
  • Gifts of the spirit – another example of this principle
Here’s the outcome:
  • You’ll find it much easier to establish and maintain a sustainable pace
  • Tip: Stress in ministry is often related to what you are doing not how much you are doing
  • You need to find someone else to do that
  • If you keep doing things that are draining your energy, you can’t lead to your maximum capacity
  • Organizationally, you will end up with an org that reflects your strengths but not your weaknesses
  • The things they brag about Northpoint, Andy has zero involvement in (meeting production, physical building)
  • Andy only prepares sermons and casts vision
  • The bigger we’ve gotten the fewer things I do
  • If you keep a sustainable pace, the more likely your staff will keep a sustainable pace
  • God has designed you to be great at something, and the sooner you can figure that out the quicker you will make a greater impact for God
  • Do NOT, under any circumstances, try this at home!
  • Don’t go home and say: “You know how you say I’m not very touchy-feely and affection, you need to find someone else to do that!”
  • At home you better be good at everything
Questions to help you discover your Strengths:
  1. What do you do that is almost effortless from your perspective, but seem like a daunting task to others?
  2. In what areas do people consider you the “go to” person?
  3. What facets of your job energize you?
  4. What do you wish you could stop doing?
  5. What organizational environments are you drawn to?
  6. What environments do you avoid?
  7. Write an ideal job description for you current area

Dr. Howard Hendricks: “If anything has kept me on track all these tracks, it’s being skewered to the principle of central focus. There are many things I can do, but I have to narrow it down to the one thing I must do. The secret of concentration is elimination.”

 

What are the next steps for you related to Strength-based Leadership?

 

Scott Belsky was the speaker I was most looking forward to at Catalyst Dallas. I don’t know anything about his spiritual inclinations, but I love his 99% blog and tweets. Great, great insights on making ideas happen – systems, leadership, etc.

 

And Scott did not disappoint. Best talk, by far, at Catalyst Dallas on Day 1. I only wish he had twice the allotted time because he breezed through about 100 brilliant points that he could have camped out on for hours.

My favorite takeaway (among the MANY):

  • Creativity x Organization = Impact

5 x 0 = 0
100 x 0 = 0
5 x 20 = 100

[So basically – you could be insanely creative, but without organization you’re result is zero. And additionally, a little creativity with great organization can outperform amazing creativity without organization.]

Here’s my best attempt at notes from his talk:

Why do most ideas never happen?

  • When a new idea strikes, energy and excitement are really high
  • Then we call meetings and we have discussions, and our inbox piles up with emails
  • Over time energy/excitement dissipates
  • To return to the high of a new idea, we just scrap the old idea and start a new idea
  • Ideas don’t happen just because they’re great (there is no meritocracy of ideas where the best ideas always win out)
  • There are other forces at play

 

Here’s why they don’t happen:

  • The gravitational force of day to day operations
  • You get back to your desk and get overwhelmed
  • Lack of Feeling Organized
  • Lack of Accountability
  • Never tell anyone about our idea and no one ever benefits from it
  • Lack of Feedback exchange – you see the fatal flaws in others ideas but never tell them
  • Lack of Leadership Capability
  • When you do exit interviews, why are people leaving – Often they feel like they are not being fully utilized

How do we defy the odds and make ideas happen?

Creativity/Ideas + Organization/Execution + Communal Forces + Leadership Capability = Making ideas happen

Organization/Execution

  • We are bombarded An endless stream of stuff (emails, texts, tweets, voicemail, mail, facebook messages)
  • We are all pecking away at all the inboxes of our life
  • We are living someone else’s to-do list
  • We lose the sacred space of deep thinking – the shower is our last refuge
  • We need to force ourselves to be proactive and have deep thinking
  • Create Windows of non-Stimulation in your day – 2-3 hours of unplugging
  • Working on long-term plans
  • Unplugging is the competitive advantage of the digital age
  • Creativity x Organization = Impact

5 x 0 = 0
100 x 0 = 0
5 x 20 = 100

  • What company was recognized for the world’s best supply chain management? Apple
  • COO Tim Cook could be just as important in that company as Steve Jobs
  • The key to success in their study of the best creators in the world: Organize with a bias to action
  • Have an intolerance for unactionable meetings
  • Have a culture of capturing action steps – End your meeting with capturing actions

“I’m going to email this guy”

“I’m going to redraft this”

 

  • What ends up happening is you catch misses and duplication:

“Oh, I thought you were going to also do this”
“Oh, I thought I was going to do that”

  • It provides immediate accountability
  • Write actions down when they happen
  • Reduce your amount of insecurity work – Twitter, facebook, blog
  • Stuff we’re just doing to assure ourselves that everything is OK (people are still reading my blog, still following me on Twitter)
  • Find those things that don’t move the ball forward and cut it out or delegate it or reduce it
  • Never stop optimizing
  • We don’t want to fix something if it isn’t broken
  • Do experiments – cancel the weekly staff meeting; have a stand up meeting; see how it goes


Communal Forces

  • There are three types of people: Dreamers, Doers, Incrementalists
  • Dreamers – going to bed thinking about what new they can put in the system
  • Doers – wait a second we have a budget, a timeline; go to bed happy when there is nothing new in the pipeline
  • Incrementalists – rotates between the two; problem – create too many things that never scale
  • We need to recognize what roles people play
  • Share ideas liberally

Every time Chris Anderson has an idea – he throws it up on his blog
His community starts to nag him about his ideas
He relies on this constant pressure to follow up on ideas
Aren’t you scared people are going to steal your ideas and throw out ideas too soon? The benefits outweigh the risks

  • Share ownership of ideas

Doing things your way strips people of ownership. If you step in to correct what they are doing (to tweak it, to make it 100% instead of 95% good) – that person is now unlikely to stay up late at night working on the project

  • Seek Competition

We pace ourselves with other folks
Tuning in to what other people are doing helps us take the next step

  • Overcome the stigma of self-marketing

Respect based self-marketing
Curators in what’s interesting to them
Blogs, twitter
People can tune in and follow us
Then when we have something we want people to know about, we don’t have to spam, we just let our followers know

  • Innovation by tolerating failure
  • Innovation happens thru rapid failure
  • But what do we usually monitor and keep stats on? Success
  • How do we in organizations encourage innovation? Free up some staff for a short time to try new things without success criteria
  • Push People into their intersection; people operate best at the intersection of these three:

Interests – what keeps them up at night
Skills –
Opportunities (around them)

  • All of the remarkably successful people – at some point someone told them they were crazy
  • When people tell you are crazy – you’re either crazy or you’re really on to something


Nothing extraordinary is ever achieved thru ordinary means

What was the biggest takeaway for you? What has helped you make your ideas actionable?




“The core principle of effective management is to extend people’s autonomy.

When people are free, they take initiative and innovate and make things happen.

Increase people’s freedom and you increase motivation”

Recently I’ve come across several great articles on a Biblical approach to work that fall into two categories:

  1. A Theology of Work (it’s been great content to work through with my Senior Guys Bible Study)
  2. A Biblical approach to Management and Leadership

The first category applies to the Worker (which we all are), the second to the Boss (which most of us are – whether Director, staff, or student leader – you lead people). Today’s post will deal with the latter.

Matt Perman is the Director of Strategy for Desiring God. His blog is in my top 3 favorites. He recently wrote 2 phenomenal articles dealing with a Biblical approach to Management:

Read the first article for an overview. Read the latter for a thorough understanding.

The latter article may be the best thing I’ve read on Leadership because it synthesizes so many ideas into one cohesive strategy.

It pulls from concepts like:

  • Marcus Buckingham’s (and Peter Drucker’s) Strengths-based leadership
  • Daniel Pink’s (and Jim Collins’ Built to Last) ideas on what motivates employees

In reading it, for sake of time, you could skip point 1 and come back to as you have time (it’s foundational/Biblical but really long).

Some great quotes from it:

  • Management is not “getting things done through others,” as it is commonly defined, but is “developing people through tasks.” Accomplishing results and developing the individual are equal concerns.
  • The core principle of effective management is to extend people’s autonomy.
  • When people are free, they take initiative and innovate and make things happen
  • Increase people’s freedom and you increase motivation
  • Our goal is to seek to extend and further autonomy in all possible ways so that our people, in turn, can be as effective as they can be and we can spread as far and wide as we are able
  • Our philosophy of management is based not on control, but on trust.

In College Ministry, where do you think we need to extend autonomy?

photo courtesy of Éole


I met a guy from Virginia for breakfast this morning to talk about how to be better leaders. Our only connection – he knew a couple Arkansas students from SP and he reads this blog.

John Maxwell, in The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, shares:

Leaders are Learners. Leadership experts Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus made a discovery about the relationship between growth and leadership: “It is the capacity to develop and improve their skills that distinguishes leaders from their followers” . . . I have made it a practice to read books, listen to tapes, and go to conferences on leadership. . . I also had another idea: I wrote to the top ten leaders in my field and offered them $100 for a half hour of their time so that I could ask them questions. I can’t explain how valuable those experiences were for me. Those leaders shared insights with me that I could have learned no other way.

Whenever you have access to great Leaders, take advantage of it by grabbing time with them and taking copious notes.

Better yet, seek access to great Leaders.


A few practical ideas on how to do this:

  • Summer of 2009 I got a list of the best Cru Campus Directors in the nation (from recommendations from my regional and national team) and set up 1 hour phone calls with 5 of them. Those conversations dramatically impacted how we do ministry. And it started relationships with guys whom I continue to go back to and ask questions (via email/phone).
  • Cru staff – take advantage of CSU and Local Leader conferences to pick the brains of some of the best College Ministers in the world. Be intentional to set up appointments (and take notes)!
  • I’m going to consistently bring in great Leaders to spend time with my team and student leaders. Last fall it was Mary Beth Minnis and Tim Norman – our Regional Directors. In 48 hours they met with our team for 3 hours, spoke at our weekly meeting and Student Leadership Meeting, met with over 30 students and staff (mostly one-on-one), and briefed/debriefed with me over two lunches.  I can honestly say those 48 hours shaped our movement more than anything else we did in the fall. This spring, Dan Allan (St. Louis Cru director) will be coming.
  • Read and interact on blogs and Twitter. I love that technology and the Interwebs allows incredible access to Leaders. None of my leadership peers and “mentors” live within 500 miles of me. I love being spurred on by friends that I’ve never met (Brian Barela, Russ Martin, Matt McComas and many others on Twitter). But you won’t grow nearly as much if you are just a passive reader – comment on blogs, start a blog, dialogue with friends/leaders on Twitter.


What are ways you have learned long-distance from other leaders?



photo courtesy of neocorsten

In addition to some of the positive ideas stated yesterday in How to Raise Up Better Leaders than Came Before (mostly: raise up passionate followers of Christ who really get the gospel!), here are some problems we need to Fight Against and Figure Out.

Fight Against (more on these below)

  • Drift Toward Ease
  • Practical Atheism

Figure out (we’ll tackle this one tomorrow)

  • Raising up Leaders who can also administrate
  • Systems that make it easier for students to “lead up”


Drift toward ease

I’ve noticed that unless vision for Focusing on the Right People is constantly preached, many of our staff and students tend to disciple students who are much less gifted leaders than themselves.

Here’s a few theories on why:

It’s safe and easy

  • They’re super-available and we have no doubt that they will eat up everything we say

Fear that we don’t have what it takes/Fear of rejection

  • It’s intimidating (even for staff!) to approach that really sharp freshman leader who just oozes confidence
  • I can vividly recall my second year as a director – I discipled a guy who was the president of his fraternity and I ended up not meeting with him much because I didn’t feel like I had anything to offer him.

We like to be needed

  • “The fact is that many people in leadership roles gravitate toward hurting, draining, time-consuming people because they have a need to be needed.” – Dave Kraft (this entire post from What’s Best Next will be the best Leadership thing you read all week)

One resource to fight this drift is Tim Henderson’s article The Right People for Discipleship that is written to students and is phenomenal on communicating the why’s and how’s of pursuing Better Leaders.


Practical Atheism

  • Craig Groeschel describes this as someone who believes in God but lives as if He doesn’t exist
  • In this case it would be: really strategizing and thinking through how to raise up better leaders, and forgetting that God has to show up for his kingdom to grow on our campus
  • Ps 20:7 – “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”
  • We have to fight against putting our trust in better leaders
  • It seems that the “easy” solution to this one is prayer and expressing utter dependence on God to move and raise up incredible leaders who will spread His fame
  • We still plan and strategize like crazy
  • All the time remembering- We’re like the guys setting up the Inauguration Parade route– setting up bleachers, preparing the route – so the path is clear for the Reigning King to pass through and receive adoration


What are some ways you’ve found to fight against the Drift Toward Ease and Practical Atheism?



photo courtesy of Peer.Gynt


A while back I wrote a post We need better Leaders than came before that raised a lot of questions but didn’t resolve anything.

It’s something we’ve been wrestling with as a team and, I think, an important issue to think through as your movement grows.

So let’s jump back into it over the next couple of days.

Here’s the (abbreviated) problem stated in 2 contradicting statements:

  1. “In building a movement, the students currently involved have to be better leaders than the previous generation because the movement is larger and more complex”
  2. John Maxwell’s Law of the Lid says good leaders (10’s) won’t follow lesser leaders (5’s)

If these two statements are true (and in my experience they almost always are) how is it possible for students to raise up better leaders than themselves?



On the original post Andrew had some great comments (his full comments are worth the read). Springboarding off of his comments (noted in quotations below),

Here are some thoughts on how students can raise up better leaders than themselves:


Cast vision

“When students are talking to better leaders, focus on vision casting. If you are able to paint a compelling picture of the cause, then you may be able to attract higher leadership levels because they are compelled by the cause. In other words, make it about more than just following you.
”

To quote Russ Martin: “leaders are big picture people, use big pictures!”


Focus on student ownership

“When students are given opportunities to lead/manage, they are able to use those opportunities for leadership growth.”

Students can grow rapidly in leadership when given lots of leadership experience right from the beginning of their involvement with us. I think we ask too little from freshmen.


Age Disparity

For the most part, students enter college as kids and graduate as adults. What does that have to do with raising up better leaders than came before? Age disparity enables a Senior who is a 5 to raise up freshman (who looks up to him as a wise sage) who will be a 10.


Godly Passion Trumps Everything

A few years ago we had a student (John) involved in our ministry who’s was a 5 at most (to put it in cold, John Maxwell terms). He wouldn’t look you in the eye when you talked to him. He was difficult to have a conversation with. But John led a Bible study full of phenomenal leaders- a couple guys in his study were Fraternity pledge class presidents and every single one was a better leader than John.

What drew them to John?

John came to Christ in college and never got over the gospel. It gripped him and he couldn’t help but passionately pursue everyone around him and invite them to experience Jesus.

As Andrew commented, “Give me a 5 who prays and lives out what he preaches over a 10 who can get the most people to the Cru meeting any day.”


Tomorrow – we’ll look at barriers to raising up better leaders than came before (besides the Law of the Lid).


What else would you add? How can we better foster a movement where students are raising up better leaders than came before?



photo courtesy of wildphotons

“In building a movement, the students currently involved have to be better leaders than the previous generation because the movement is larger and more complex”

Brian McCollister (Campus Crusade director at Ohio)


I had never thought about it in these terms but it makes sense- If your movement of college students is growing in size and scope year after year, your students need to be raising up better leaders than they are.

But you’re probably familiar with John Maxwell’s Law of the Lid that essentially says this:

“If on a scale of 1 to 10 your leadership ability is a 4, the best you will attract is 1, 2, and 3 leaders. You will never attract 7 and 8’s.

7’s and 8’s will only follow 9’s or 10’s.”

In general I agree with this Leadership Principle and it relates to my earlier post on “Followability“.  I’ve found this to especially be true for men’s ministry: guys tend to only follow other guys they look up to and respect. They will not follow lesser men.

So here’s the question I’ve been wrestling with:

  • Taking into account the Law of the Lid, how is it possible for students to raise up better leaders than themselves?


What has been your experience with this?  What are the necessary conditions for students to be able to raise up better leaders than themselves? How can staff help them do that?



photo courtesy of bingisser

Sometimes leadership feels like whack-a-mole.  You put out one fire only to have another crop up.

It can be incredibly draining and demotivating.  Unless.

Unless you understand that’s what you’re there for.  That’s a large part of your job description.  If we don’t have problems, we don’t need leaders.

Some great insights from Brian McCollister’s talk that he gave on “Leading thru Complexity” at a Crusade Campus Director Conference I attended last week:

Leaders are problem solvers. As leaders we are always managing and working different problems.

  • Jesus ended his life on earth with laying a problem at the feet of the 11 disciples: take the gospel to the ends of the earth.
  • Half of the New Testament is Paul writing to address problems in churches

And here’s the payoff: effectively dealing with problems is often what leads to success.  Matt McComas mentioned in a post that authors Chip and Stan Heath have found that failure and problems are almost always warning signs for success.  Problems are prerequisites for breaking thru to growth.

I was just reading in Acts this week.  In chapter 6 the expansion of the gospel hit a bump in the road: intercultural conflict.  The fragile, young church easily could have splintered along racial lines.  The 12 disciples wisely dealt with the problem.

Aside: Their solution is an interesting study in and of itself.  They didn’t deal with the problem themselves, on their own.  They empowered their “followers” to deal with it themselves and pick their own leaders.  Interestingly, all 7 leaders selected had Greek names (meaning they weren’t from the Jewish majority).  The solution involved empowering and handing over authority to the offended minority.

The result? The resolved problem results in verse 7: “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem”.


photo courtesy of AnimaBandit