Last week I had the opportunity to be the keynote speaker for Missouri Community Betterment at their 48th annual awards luncheon in Jefferson City, MO. I spoke on the topic of accepting the challenge of community leadership.
I’m sure many of you are in positions of leadership — volunteer leadership — in your communities, churches, etc. It can be exhausting to keep things moving and to keep people happy. Here is a summary of the tips I shared with them to help L.I.V.E. out the call to lead.
L – Let IT go. If you are known as an over-achiever, you probably have way too much on your plate. If you are the one who always gets sucked in because you can’t say no, you probably have too much on your plate. If you want to be a successful leader who knows how to keep your sanity, you are going to have to prioritize and LET GO of things that do not line up with your values. The only way to do this is to really know yourself. What is most important to you? What is it, exactly, that you are trying to accomplish? Anything that does not line up needs to go.
IT can also be anything that holds you back or hinders your ability to perform the tasks you desire to accomplish. For example, you may need to let go of a negative relationship, unrealistic expectations, a past hurt, a past failure or a false identity about who you are and what you can do. Let it go and move on.
I – Invite joy in. If you have been in charge of any group of volunteers, you know that at some point you just need to laugh. If you don’t learn to laugh at the small things, and sometimes the big things, you will certainly cry or maybe knock someone out! Joy is contagious. A good attitude and positive responses to questions and concerns will go a long way. But, to create that kind of environment, you must deliberately choose to be joyful. It is not always easy when the rain is coming and you’ve spent a year planning an outdoor event! By the way, notice I am saying joyful instead of happy. When I was in college, my older sister taught me this concept, “happy moves.” We always think we will be happy when…fill in the blank. So, we work hard to get whatever it is we think will make us happy and then “happy” moves to something else. Joy is a constant, deep emotion that comes from God in us and exists despite circumstances. Invite joy into your life.
V – Value your relationships. As I said at the luncheon, I could sit on this principle all day. Success demands solid and growing relationships. You cannot get to where you want to go in terms of life goals, ministry goals or community goals, without the support, wisdom and talents of other people. Do the people who work with you, who follow you, know how much you value them? When was the last time you thanked them, sincerely, for their efforts and praised their individual talents, gifts or strengths? Christian speaker and author Beth Moore said in a recent message, “no one has a WEE calling, but everyone has a WE calling.” What God wants to do through you is not possible without other people. We are capable of so much more together. Our vision and our goals should always be far beyond our own reach. Value your relationships.
E – Embrace your place. I think in leadership it is always important to know your role and to stay there. Successful leaders recognize their circle of influence. You are in a certain position or season of life for a reason. Personally, my husband and I are raising two toddlers. This season of my life will pass so quickly. Do I really want to miss it because I wasn’t willing to slow down and embrace my place as a wife and mother? Priorities and the willingness to embrace where God has placed you is so important for your stress level and your effectiveness.
Also, embracing your place means learning self-awareness. Do you know you? Do you know how God has wired you? Understanding personality, strengths, struggles and emotional needs is so important to being able to embrace your place. Nothing is worse than when you are working with someone who is trying to function outside of who they are naturally. When we try to be someone we are not it is exhausting for us and for everyone else. Do what you can do and do it well. Embrace your place.
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.” Ecclesiastes 9:10
Over 300 million people in our nation, nearly 6 million in my home state of Missouri in 114 counties and in my town of 2600 people I have one shot to make a difference. We don’t get this life back. Accept the challenge and L.I.V.E. up to the call to lead.