When you are stuck in life – what gets you out?Questions. Great questions. I think, more often than not, it is a fresh question that helps me see things from a different perspective. Questions are powerful. They can invite us into new realities and possibilities.
I’m starting to realize a pattern of questions I’m asking myself again and again as a leader. These questions are helping me be a better leader. These questions have especially helped me when I am in difficult situations. We all have areas of influence, areas where people look to us for direction, support or leadership. You are a leader somewhere. You lead in your school, in your home, in your church, in your gym, in your volunteer committee, in your band, in your camp, in your coaching role, in your youth group, with your kids, in your neighbourhood…
May these questions make you a better leader where you are.
1. How do I glorify God in this? This is a question I ask myself again and again, especially in difficult situations. What does it look like to be faithful to God in this? How do I display God’s heart and character in this? What is God trying to teach me here? I’ve found, especially in difficult situation, this helps me focus on the right things. I may not be able to change the circumstances, but I do have control over my attitude, actions and reactions and I can seek to glorify God in the middle of my situation.
2. What’s the third way? Often in discussions, disagreements and meetings we only see one or two different points of views. I find just asking this question in my head “What’s the third way?” helps me not be stuck in sides, one way or the other, or stuck in the status quo. Just asking this question helps me be creative in seeing new ways and new possibilities.
3. How can I ask a great question here? Instead of making a statement, how can I turn it into a great question that invites people further into thoughtful reflection and discussion? Statements can sound definitive or even defensive. Questions sound much more like invitations. Jesus is the master of asking great questions that invite deeper reflection. How can I turn my statement into a question that invites discussion?
4. Where is God already at work here? Where’s God already working in what is in front of you this day - this person’s life, this leader, this family, this church, this situation, this community... I find asking this questions helps take the pressure off of me to “succeed” and helps me focus on the positive signs I see of God’s work among us. I believe God is at work all around us, all the time. May we have eyes, ears and minds to recognize God’s work around us each day.
5. What am I responsible for and what am I not responsible for? (Or sometimes I put it another way - what can I control and what can I not control?) This has saved me on many occasions, especially when you end up in situations where it feels like lots of things are out of your control. I tend to have an over-developed sense of responsibility. I’ve discovered most driven leaders do. However, if I try to be responsible for what is not mine, or I try to control what is not mine, I only end up frustrated and end up annoying others. This question includes the need to recognize fully what is God’s responsibility, and what’s my responsibility entrusted to me by God. There is a big difference between the two. I plant the seed, but God causes the growth. I invest in people, but I cannot change anyone’s heart. I can’t control others, but I can control my actions and reactions towards others. I can’t control many circumstances, but I can control my reactions. I’ve sat down and made charts at times to remind myself “what I am responsible for…” and “what I am not responsible for…” It’s incredibly freeing to set your energies and heart on what you are responsible for and trust God with what is not your responsibility.
6. How can I be helpful? I’ve often assumed I know exactly what someone else needs to be helped. I’ve assumed this in team meetings, in counselling others, in mentoring relationships, in friendships… However, it turns out I rarely know best what someone (or a group of people) truly needs most. I’ve often been completely off base with my “helpfulness”. It turns out the other person/group tends to know best what is helpful and what help they are ready to receive. Also, if I assume I know how I can be helpful, it takes all choice, control and leadership away from others. That is actually demeaning to others, even if my intention was to be a helpful servant. I’m learning to listen well and then ask “How can I be most helpful?”
7. What’s the win? I think it is so important to ask the why questions behind everything. Why do we do what we do? Where is it leading us? What’s the win it is accomplishing? How is that win helpful to God and the vision God has given us? How’s this meeting/event/partnership contributing to a piece of our long-term goals and values? Clarity is a powerful tool. When we all know the “win” we’re aiming for it is much easier to be a motivated team. When I’m working away at something and I know the “win” I’m a much better worker. Define the win.
What powerful questions do you use to make yourself a better leader? Are you finding these 7 questions helpful?