Archives For leadership

As I was walking through the halls of church this morning putting the finishing touches on Sunday’s setup, I ran into a mom who brightened my day.  It was a very brief encounter, but what she said was full of encouragement. As I walked away with wind in my sails, I thought about the power of encouragement. 

Here are a few ideas for encouraging others:

Catch them in the Act
Everyone likes their work to be noticed.  A toddler will bring you a piece of paper that looks like a crayon box threw up on it, just to say “Look what I did!” It’s in our DNA to be recognized for what we do.  If you want to encourage others, try to catch them in the act of doing something well.

Praise Them in Front of Others
The mom that spoke to me this morning shared how she was also talking with another mom…about me!  That’s not always a good thing, but this time it was.  It really encouraged me that they both thought enough of my actions to have it be a topic of conversation.  If you want to encourage others, hold them up as an example of excellence in front of their peers.  This will breed more excitement and determination in everyone because they see that you value their contribution. 

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Use Brief Comments
I typically think of encouragement as being a card, an email, or a gift.  The reality is that personally delivering a few encouraging words is much more effective. The conversation I had was only 1 to 2 minutes long, but her words have given me energy for the day.  It even prompted this post!  If you want to encourage others, take a moment to speak words of encouragement to them.  Gifts and awards are great, but don’t forget the power of your words.

 Use Their Language
This is a tough one because it requires you to really get to know the person.  Our staff has been learning about the differences in personality and how that affects communication.  What we’ve learned is that each person receives encouragement differently.  For example, if you told me that you were proud of how I kept a smile as I stacked boxes, I would not be very encouraged. I would thank you for your comment, but inside I would be thinking, “I stacked 482 boxes and all you saw was a smile??”  This is because my personality type places a high emphasis on dedication and achievement, not so much on feelings or sensory.  A better word of encouragement for me would be, “Thank you for all your help. I saw how many boxes you stacked, and I just want you to know that it means a lot to me.  You worked very hard, and I appreciate that.”  Those words would be like manna from Heaven for me!  The point is, if you want to encourage others, be observant and find out what really motivates them.  Everyone has a root motivator that leads them to do whatever it is that they do.  If you can find that root and speak specific encouragement to it, then your words will always resonate in the heart of the person.

How can you encourage others today?

If you don’t scour through the bargain books at your local bookstore, you really should!  In doing so a few days ago, I came across The Generosity Factor by leadership/business guru, Ken Blanchard and Chick-Fil-A founder, S. Truett Cathy.  The book is almost 10 years old, but the principles are so timeless and wise.

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The book is written as a parable about a young, hot-shot broker who despite success is searching for significance. He visits a sage executive who conducts business by a much different motto—generosity. The executive teaches the broker some rock-solid, Biblical principles that are true for business and life. In the end, the broker realizes that the 5 principles make an acronym that spells, “HEART.”  He teaches the broker that a changed heart is the key to life. It’s not about how it changes, but about Who changes it. As the broker puts the principles into practice, it not only changes his life but the lives of those around him. 

The five principles are:

  • He (God) Owns It All—we are merely stewards of God’s gifts
  • Every Day Is an Opportunity—everyone has a chance to do something to bless others
  • Action is Required—“It’s one thing to think about ways to help others, it’s quite another to act.”
  • Remember Your Blessings—Take inventory of the gifts God has given
  • Thank Him–Be thankful for what God has given and for opportunities to give to others

These principles form the generosity factor—a changed heart that decides to give of what has been given to him. The principles and examples of the book are taken from the life of S. Truett Cathy.  He has do amazing work to serve others through Chick-Fil-A.  It’s amazing to see how he has given of his Time, Talent, Treasure, and Touch.

I highly recommend picking up this book—especially if you are a business owner or manager of people.  These principles will undoubtedly help you to be a stronger leader.  I’ll end this review with a few quotes from the book:

“Generosity isn’t about doing the minimum—simply doing the expected. Every day I look for opportunities to do something extra. I make it a part of my routine. Kind of a habit, you might say.”

“Generosity is an attitude. It must be cultivated daily.”

“I’m just the steward of anything that’s been given to me. I’m a caretaker. Because much has been given to me, much is required of me. That’s my responsibility, and I accept it with gratitude…The natural by-product of gratitude is generosity.”

 “The success-motivated person tends to measure his or her life in terms of money, power, status, achievement, and recognition. The significant person places emphasis on a more spiritual view of life—generosity, empowerment of others, service, building up others, and helping them develop solid relationships.”

“You will know you have truly attained significance by the sincerity of your generosity, the joy you find in service, and by the selfless nature of your relationships.  You will know by the depth of your changed heart”

One of the most difficult parts of preteen ministry is keeping your leaders fresh and equipped for the task at hand. We kick-off the year with a huge training event, and we host periodic training events throughout the year. But I always wish we could do more.

When I read a great article or blog on preteen ministry, I want to pass that on to volunteers to encourage them.  When I read a great book that deals directly with the series we’re doing, I want to pass that book to the leaders to equip them.

But how?

This year, we launched The Library. It is basically just a bookshelf in our preteen area, but on it are books, articles, and other pieces that are designed to encourage and equip our preteen leadership team. We look for resources that will help leaders to grow spiritually, help leaders understand preteens, or help leaders develop skills as a leaders/teacher. We don’t require them to use these resources, but we strongly encourage them to check out at least one resource during the year. The resources are there for their use…at their convenience. They can take any resource and keep it for as long as they need to When they’re done with it, they return it and take another resource. They can also add resources to share with other leaders. . If they read a good book or see an interesting article, they know that putting it in The Library is the best way to share it with others.

The Library has been a great help for our ministry. Our goal is not just to fill the volunteer spots that we have in ministry. We want to build up leaders and equip them to serve at church and at home. That’s a really hard task when people are so busy and can’t make it to tons of meetings. These resources in The Library are helping us meet the challenge.

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Ever since I came to Fellowship Bible Church to work with preteens, one of the things I’ve focused on is our strategy for letting go of the bike. If you haven’t heard the phrase “letting go of the bike”, I strongly encourage you to head over to FourFiveSix.org and check it out.

We really want to create environments that unleash preteens to explore faith and put it into practice. We are finding ways to provide the “lab” to accompany the “lecture.” As we’ve experimented, we’ve seen preteens taking ownership of their faith and moving into new levels of discipleship and service. So, how do you let go of the bike? Here are a few things that have helped us take that step

Leave Room for Questions
We have really encouraged our small group mentors to leave room for questions. As they communicate the lesson, we want them to encourage push back and questions from the students. We want preteens to know that the best way to know God more is to ask questions. Just ask Nicodemus… 

Always Ask Questions
Not only do we want to hear their questions, but we also want to hear preteen answers. We’ve made it a habit to include surveys with the lessons. The responses from preteens show us what they really learned and what they are still questioning. The surveys are a great way to evaluate whether our methods are supporting our message. If we want preteens to learn how to pray, did we provide opportunities for them to pray? Check out The Method is the Message.

Provide Practice
For me, taking ownership of faith involved growing through service. We want to provide preteens with opportunities to serve others together. We want small groups to be involved in serving the church and the community. We want to unleash them with what they’ve learned to go make a difference in the world. This month, we’ve encouraged preteens to be involved in two ways: feeding orphans through www.RiceBowls.org and serving as a buddy with the Miracle League of Arkansas. Through different opportunities and experiences, preteens learn to see how God has wired them to serve Him.

As a parent, leader, or church, how are you letting go of the bike?