#308 Serving leaders ask those who follow: “How are you growing?”

August 31, 2021

Serving leaders have a passion, not only for their own personal growth, but they want to see those they lead also growing. They are in the growing people business! So, they attend to their own growth and then quickly turn their attention to the growth of those they lead. They have a vision from God to impact their world and they know that they cannot do this alone. They call a team to help them, and the team also needs to be growing if they are to scale the mountain. They have the same perspective towards the growth of those they lead as the writer of Hebrews.

12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil (Hebrews 5:11-14, NIV).

Serving leaders desire to see those the lead flourishing and growing into their full potential. So, they often ask their followers, “How are you growing?”

Serving leaders ask “How are you growing?“ to encourage change.   

The writer clearly expects growth and progress. An infant is expected to drink milk, but a mature person should be eating meat. Serving leaders expect growth from those they lead and this requires change. Serving leaders are not content with followers that simply continue to do their work at the same level. They desire growth and ask their followers how they are growing to assess the level of change. Simply asking the question helps the follower to understand that growth is encouraged and expected. By asking “How are you growing?” serving leaders encourage their followers to rise and develop the potential that is yet undeveloped.

Serving leaders ask “How are you growing?“ to encourage consistency.

The question of growth is not a one-time question but one that serving leaders use often. The writer says that one of the characteristics of the mature is that they “by constant use have trained themselves…”  A step of growth produces change, but consistent growth is the key to transformation. Serving leaders recognize that many people in a new role, grow quickly as they learn the task, but then plateau when the reach a certain level of capacity. The question, “How are you growing?” encourages the follower to keep developing their strengths and capacity.

Serving leaders ask “How are you growing?“ to encourage continuity.

The writer challenges the readers, “by this time you ought to be teachers…” The expectation is that with growth and maturity there will be a passing on of what is learned to the next generation. Serving leaders take a long view and desire not only the growth of the individual they are leading, but the growth of those who will follow. So, they ask their followers, “How are you growing?” to remind them that they are not only growing for themselves but for those who will follow. They may shape the question even more directly, “Who are you training to take over your role?” Serving leaders ask their followers how they are growing so that they will be encouraged to pass on to others what they are learning.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Do I have a high expectation of growth and change from everyone I lead? How do I communicate that expectation to them? What do I do when someone is not interested in growing?
  • Are there persons on my team that have stopped growing? How can I ask them a question that will rekindle their desire to grow?
  • How do my followers pass on to others what they are learning? Have I built that expectation into our entire team? Can I see evidence of several generations of training happening in my organization? (An example of several generations would be that those first trained have trained others who are now training others.) If not, what do I need to change?                  

Until next time,

yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at/examine a question serving leaders ask themselves, “What should I stop doing?”  

#307 Serving leaders ask themselves: “How am I growing?”

August 17, 2021

Serving leaders are passionate about growth since they understand that their growth unlocks the potential they possess. They also realize that their growth determines the growth of the organizations they lead. They recognize that growing themselves is one of the best ways they can serve those who follow. They reflect deeply on Peter’s challenge to all believers:

18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen (2 Peter 3:18, NIV).

Peter challenges us all to keep growing, the antidote for falling from the “secure position” he mentions in the previous verse. Leaders pay careful attention to their growth and ask themselves often, “How am I growing?”   

Serving leaders ask “How am I growing?“ to check balance.

Peter calls leaders to grow in “grace and knowledge…” Knowledge is an area most leaders are aware of their need for growth. They take classes, attend seminars, listen to podcasts, or read books to expand their knowledge. This is excellent. But Peter calls leaders to balance knowledge with grace. Grace is an internal attribute, a character trait, an issue of the heart. Both the head and heart are needed and should be balanced. When growth happens only in the area of knowledge and there is no corresponding development of character, it leads to arrogance. When a leader grows only in character without growth in knowledge, their hearts may be in the right place, but they still lack leadership competencies that are essential.

 Serving leaders ask themselves if they are growing in both areas. They ask if their character is stronger and their knowledge greater than it was before. Serving leaders recognize that they need both head knowledge and heart capacity to increase. They seek to balance their growth between the knowledge and skills they need to excel professionally, with the heart issues of integrity, honesty, courage, and humility.

Serving leaders ask “How am I growing?“ to confirm direction.

Serving leaders are not only concerned that they are growing, but they also want to know if they are growing in the right direction. Peter provides the direction for growth, “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” He points to Jesus as the greatest example of serving leadership. While they may benefit from many leadership resources that are not explicitly faith based, serving leaders ask themselves a simple question, “Am I living and leading more like Jesus than I was a year ago?” If the answer is “yes”, the correct direction is confirmed.

Serving leaders ask “How am I growing?“ to credit correctly.  

Leaders grow for many reasons. Some are seeking a promotion or simply want to grow a larger organization. Some want to impress others with their title or degree. But Peter makes it clear that the motive for serving leaders to grow is not to bring glory to themselves but to Jesus. “To him be glory both now and forever!” Serving leaders are passionate about their growth, but like everything about their leadership, it is not about them, it is about others. Their growth develops the potential they received from their creator and thereby brings glory to Him. Their growth simply allows them to serve more effectively and bring greater levels of flourishing to the organizations they lead.    

For further reflection and discussion:

  • In what areas do I focus my growth? Is there a healthy balance between my growth in character and knowledge? Do I choose book, seminars and training with this balance in mind?      
  • Is my growth leading me to live and lead more like Jesus? If not, what do I need to change? If yes, in what way is this evident to those around me?
  • Am I growing to impress others? Am I seeking to make myself look good? Am I seeking promotion or a new title which is selfish in nature?
  • What do I need in my current growth journey? Do I need mentors? Books? Seminars? Professional training?

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll examine a question serving leaders ask others, “How are you growing?”

#306 Serving Leaders ask those who follow: “What is in your hand?”

August 3, 2021

Serving leaders long for those who follow to not only learn what to do, but how to think for themselves. So, they ask powerful questions of those who follow and use this one to help develop their leadership capacity.  Serving leaders look at the question God asked Moses, “What is in your hand?” They first apply it to themselves by asking “What is in my hand?” Then, they reflect on what this question means for those who follow them and they also ask it of them.

 2 Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” “A staff,” he replied. 3 The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.” Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. 4 Then the Lord said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. 5 “This,” said the Lord, “is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you” (Exodus 4:2–5, NIV).

Serving leaders ask this question of their followers with three objectives.

Serving leaders ask “What is in your hand?“ to reveal potential.

In this story God saw the potential Moses had, but Moses did not! God does not give Moses a list of things He saw, but instead asks the question. He wants Moses to see the staff differently than before. Serving leaders ask the same question so that their followers will discover gifts that they have within themselves. They might need to ask several times or to add “What else do you have?” after some answers have been provided. Serving leaders desire for their followers to see that they are not simply “ordinary” persons, but individuals that have been created in a unique way for a specific purpose.

Serving leaders ask “What is in your hand?“ to release creativity.  

God was calling Moses to use his staff in a new way and his thinking needed to change. Serving leaders decide that instead of providing solutions to problems, they can serve better by asking someone, “What could you do to solve this problem?” or “How could you improve this process?” They develop people by asking the question until the creativity within begins to be revealed.

Serving leaders ask “What is in your hand?“ to resist dependency.  

All leaders are tempted to be the one with the answers. God certainly had answers for Moses! But God asked Moses the question to make him think. He wanted Moses to stretch his own thinking and not always depend on someone to tell him what to do. God chose to use what was in Moses’ hand instead of giving him something new. Serving leaders learn from Moses to ask “What is in your hand?” in ways that help followers become less dependent on the leader. This is a process of discipleship which may take a significant amount of time but gradually the serving leader helps the follower to be able to think on their own, to make decisions and take action. They serve by asking the question that forces the follower to see themselves as someone with answers. Serving leaders have answers but they often serve by asking questions instead of dispensing information.    

For further reflection and discussion:

  • When I see potential in others do I tend to ignore it? Point it out? Or do I ask a question that allows them to discover it in themselves? Who can I ask this week, “What is in your hand?”
  • How do I encourage creativity among those who follow me? Am I able to hold my ideas and answers in order to encourage others to think first and plan?
  • Do I find my identity in providing answers to people’s questions? In what way does that impact my leadership?
  • Over time, are people becoming more dependent or less dependent on my presence? What does this say about my heart to serve others?                 

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at another question serving leaders ask themselves, “How am I growing?”.