Blog

#311 Serving Leaders ask themselves: “What should I start doing?”

October 13, 2021 

Leaders often develop plans and strategies for what they could accomplish and they start running towards the goal.  But serving leaders don’t ask what they could start doing, but what they should start doing. They again carefully observe Paul’s instructions.  

22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24, NIV). Paul talks first about what needs to be “put off” or stopped. We looked at this with the question, “What should I stop doing?” When progress is made in this area, serving leaders now have some margin in their time and can move to Paul’s instruction to “put on the new self” by asking another question of themselves, “What should I start doing?” Serving leaders should start (or do more in) at least three areas.   

It is always right to ask…and to do more in three areas..  

Serving leaders ask “What should I start doing?“ to focus on leading instead of doing.    

All leaders rise to leadership positions because they are effective at accomplishing tasks, they know how to get the work done! But as serving leaders rise in leadership, they recognize that they need to start focusing on leading others instead of doing these tasks. A mental shift is required for them to put down the ‘tools’ they have learned to use so well and focus on leading others well. Paul talks about changing the “attitude of your minds” before he talks about what needs to be “put on”. As serving leaders stop doing the work themselves, they start doing more and more leadership. They spend more time working on the company than in the company. Serving leaders look at their calendar to evaluate how much time they spend leading vs. doing tasks. Then they adjust their calendar until the focus is on leading well.  

Serving leaders ask “What should I start doing?“  to do what brings greatest return.  

Effective leaders recognize that not all their leadership actions bring equal results to their organization. When they stop doing some things that bring less return, they are able to start doing more of the things that bring maximum impact. A serving leader may recognize that strategic thinking is one of the best things she can do for the organization, so she begins setting aside blocks of time for thinking. Another may determine that their greatest impact is keeping their vision clearly focused and widely understood. As a result, he starts allocating more time to work at communicating the vision to the organization. Serving leaders work hard to determine their priorities and start doing more of what matters most.  

Serving leaders ask “What should I start doing?“ to better develop their gifts.  

As leaders learn to say ‘no’ to the areas in which they are not gifted or which should be delegated to others, they find that they are able to focus more clearly on the areas of their strengths. This means that they will do more of what they are best at doing. Serving leaders also start deliberately developing their gift. This happens as they set aside time, not to exercise their strength, but to sharpen it. They start spending time reading about areas of their strength, talking with a trusted mentor, and learning from others who have excelled in that area. They take time to develop their gift.  

For further reflection and discussion: 

  • Before I look at what I should start, have I stopped the things that I should not be doing so that I have some space for new areas of growth? (If not, review the previous issues!)  
  • What percentage of my current time is spent on leadership actions and what percentage is spent doing the work? What would be ideal for me right now in my position? What will I do to move towards that goal?  
  • Of all the things I do as a leader, what three or four things brings the greatest return to my organization? What can I do to start doing more of these things?  
  • What area of personal strength can I focus on to develop? What steps can I take to develop this strength? When will I begin?  

Until next time, yours on the journey, 

Jon Byler 

In the next issue, we’ll look at the related question serving leaders ask others: “What should you start doing?”  

#310 Serving leaders ask those who follow: “What should you stop doing?”

September 29, 2021

All leaders delegate tasks to others in their quest to accomplish the vision, adding items to their “to do” lists.  But serving leaders stop the delegation process long enough to ask a different question of their followers: “What should you stop doing?” They learn from Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses.

13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?” (Exodus 18:13-14, NIV, read 13-27, below, for a fuller context.) Jethro was kindly asking Moses to think about what he was doing that he needed to stop. Moses was doing a great thing; he was serving the nation! He was busy from “morning to evening” doing what he thought his job description called him to do. Everyone around looked at him with admiration and respect as a great leader. But Jethro steps forward and asks some hard questions that quickly shape Moses’ leadership journey. Serving leaders do the same for those they lead.

Serving leaders ask “What should you stop doing?” to avoid burnout.

Jethro explains to Moses that if he would stop doing some of the things he was doing, he would be “able to stand the strain” (Exodus 18:23). Moses was working hard but would not be able to sustain the pace of his leadership. Jethro was concerned that Moses would not be able to sustain the pace at which he was working. Serving leaders want the best for those they lead. They see those who follow not as machines for continuous production but as individuals who are gifted but with very human limitations! Serving leaders don’t push people beyond healthy capacity. Instead, they learn to also ask those they lead, “What should you stop doing so that you will avoid burnout?”  

Serving leaders ask “What should you stop doing?“ to focus on strengths.

Jethro advises Moses that when he distributes the load, he will be able to focus on the difficult cases only. He would be able to use his strengths in the best way to serve the nation. Leaders who are busy from morning to evening are most likely not serving in the areas of their greatest strengths. Instead, they are doing lots of good things on their “to do” list but not focused on key things that only they can do. Serving leaders repeat Jethro’s question to those they lead to help them think critically about their greatest strengths. They ask, “What should you stop doing that is not your greatest strength?” Their question provokes thinking and perhaps even a change in job description that frees a person to serve in the areas for which they are best suited.  

Serving leaders ask “What should you stop doing?“ to develop others.

Jethro asked Moses why he was working alone “while all these people stand around.” He recognized that as long as Moses did all the work, the others would not be developed. They had gifts and abilities which were not being used. Jethro asks Moses to give up some work so that others could grow up! Serving leaders not only consider what things they should stop doing, but they turn to those who follow and ask them, “Who else could do what you are doing now? When will you stop doing that so that others will grow?”

They ask instead of telling because they want the person, they lead to think for themselves and grow in their own ability to lead themselves. They may also ask because, unlike Jethro, it may not be as clear what things on the to do list are causing burnout.

For further reflection and discussion:

Choose one of the highest achievers on your team to think about. Who is that person? Choose specific questions from the list below to prepare for your time with that person. Then meet with them and serve them by asking what you have on your list.

  • What things are you doing which wear you out?
  • What do you need to stop doing to have a healthy balance in your life?
  • Is your present pace sustainable long term? If not, what do you need to stop doing?
  • Of all you do for this organization, what do you do that best uses your strengths?
  • Of the tasks you do on a regular basis, which ones are not in the areas of your greatest strength? How can you stop doing them?
  • Which of your current tasks could be done by someone else? What is needed for you to pass that task on to them?
  • What happens to those under you when you continue doing the same tasks over time? Are you allowing their potential to be realized?  

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll examine the next question serving leaders ask themselves: “What should I start doing?”

Here is the full story of Jethro’s advice to Moses.

13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”

15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”

17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. 21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.

27 Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country.  (Exodus 18: 13-27, NIV)

#309 Serving leaders ask themselves: “What should I stop doing?”

September 15, 2021 

Leaders are people of action and most have a long list of things they plan to do to change their world. But serving leaders also stop and ask themselves what they are doing which they should stop!  

Paul provides these instructions to all Christians, 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24, NIV).  Paul’s instructions tell us that a part of our Christian growth is to stop doing some things and begin doing other things. He provides several examples in the following verses (25-32)—stop lying, start speaking truth; stop stealing, start working to bless others; stop unwholesome talk, start meeting the needs of others with your tongue. While these actions relate to spiritual growth serving leaders learn to look at their actions to see what needs to be “put off” or stopped. They do this for three reasons.  

Serving leaders ask “What should I stop doing?“ to clarify priorities.  

Paul’s command to “put off” relates to things which are always wrong to do. Wrong actions clearly should be stopped! Leaders, however, often face an additional dilemma. Of several good things which could be done, which one should I do? Serving leaders learn to stop doing some things so that they can focus on things which are a higher priority. They say ‘no’ to the less important to say ‘yes’ to the most important. They recognize that serving others often means saying “no.”  

Serving leaders ask “What should I stop doing?“ to increase productivity.  

Serving leaders recognize that they have limitations with their time. They cannot physically continue to do more and more. As activity and responsibilities increase it becomes harder to focus on the task at hand and productivity decreases. Leaders who continually accept new responsibilities without a corresponding end to others find themselves in a frantic struggle to do more and more. They are soon fatigued physically and mentally and are not able to bring their best selves to the task at hand. Serving leaders learn to look at their tasks on a regular basis and ask what they should stop doing. If the tasks do not actually need to be done, they simply stop. If they need to be done but should be done by someone else, they delegate to others. As serving leaders stop doing the things they should not do, they are able to productively do the things they should be doing.  

Serving leaders ask “What should I stop doing?“ to empower others.  

Leaders often do many things that could be effectively done by others. They justify their actions with convincing arguments that they do them well, they are working hard and that the activities are a part of their job description. But serving leaders recognize that when they continue doing things that others on their team could do, they not only diminish their own effectiveness but they stunt the growth and development of others. When they deny others the opportunity to grow, leaders place themselves in a vicious cycle of unending responsibility. Serving leaders learn to ask themselves what they should stop doing to identify areas that could be passed on to others. They slow down enough to ask the question, and then make a plan of how effective delegation can be done. If training is needed, they put that on their ‘to do’ list. Serving leaders learn to keep a “not to do list” next to their “to do list.”  

For further reflection and discussion: 

  • What is on my “to do” list that are not high priorities for my role as a leader? (Begin a “not to do list.”) 
  • What things am I currently doing, that keep me from being fully productive? (Add them to the list you started above.)  
  • What things am I currently doing which others on my team could do either immediately or with proper training and empowerment? (Add them to your list.)  
  • Now look at your list and decide what needs to be done for each item. If it is not essential to accomplish your vision, simply stop doing it! If it is something that someone else should be doing, put their name next to the item. Then indicate whether they are ready for the task or need training to be ready. Where training is needed, indicate when you will do that and add that time to your “to do” list. Use the chart below if helpful.  

Until next time, yours on the journey, 

Jon Byler 

In the next issue, we’ll examine the related question serving leaders ask others:  ‘What should you stop doing?” 

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

September 1, 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 18, 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 4, 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?”.

#305 Serving Leaders ask themselves: “What is in my hand?”

July 21, 2021

Leaders with a vision are always conscious of their need for resources to accomplish the vision. These resources may be finances, people, skills, or knowledge or other things. Leaders often begin the search for these resources outside themselves and begin to look around to meet the needs at hand. But serving leaders learn from the question God asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?”

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).

This exchange between God and Moses holds many insights for serving leaders and they do well to ask themselves the question, “What is in my hand?”

Serving leaders ask “What is in my hand?“ to discover resources.

Moses had a staff in his hand. It was an ordinary object that Moses walked with every day, but he did not even notice what it was. He may have assumed that everyone had a similar staff. But God asked him to notice what he had.

Serving leaders learn to ask themselves what they have at hand when they face a challenge or have a need. What experience do I bring to this situation? What resources do I have? Who do I know that could help? All of these questions allow resources to be discovered that might have been unnoticed. God took what Moses offered and used it to perform miracles.  Before looking beyond themselves for resources, serving leaders take a new look at what they already have. And as they offer these ordinary resources to God they find that they have enough!

Serving leaders ask “What is in my hand?“ to develop competence.

When the staff turned into a snake, Moses’ immediate response was to run away. But God asked him to pick the snake up, something Moses never dreamed he would be able to do. God wanted him to develop a new level of confidence and conquer his fear. Serving leaders ask “What is in my hand?” to stretch themselves to take on new tasks or responsibilities that they felt unprepared to do.

Serving leaders ask “What is in my hand?“ to diminish dependance.

Moses did not feel adequate for the task he was called to do. He felt that he was just a shepherd in the dessert with little to offer. He could have imagined that he needed much more than what was in his hand to lead. He saw himself as a person in need of a handout instead of having something to hand out. This sense of dependency cripples many leaders. But serving leaders look inward first. Before they ask “What do I need from you?” they ask “What’s in my hand that I can offer you?”  

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Take 30 minutes to reflect on what is in your hand and write down your observations. What training, life experiences, financial resources, education, professional opportunities, etc. do you carry in your hand? What surprises you on your list that you did not previously see as a resource?
  • What current situation seems challenging to me in my leadership? Reflect on what you have learned from Moses to apply to your own challenge. Are there things I have in my hand that could be used creatively to meet this challenge? Are there things I have previously experienced that can help me navigate this situation? Are there ways that God is inviting me to face my fears and develop competence in new areas?
  • Do I tend to see myself as a person in need or a person who can help those in need? What impact does this have on my leadership?         

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at the same question serving leaders ask others, “What’s in Your Hand?”  

#304 Serving leaders ask those who follow: “Who are you becoming?”

Serving leaders ask themselves hard questions about who they are becoming. As they gain clarity and direction about their focus, they also serve those they lead by encouraging them to walk the same journey of discovery. They desire that Paul’s instructions are helpful not only for their own lives but also for those they serve. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV).

Serving leaders seek to call forth the best in those who follow. They desire the transformation indicated in this verse. And they are not afraid to ask probing questions that will guide others on their leadership journey. They recognize that asking questions rather than giving answers allows those they lead to grow and develop their own capacity to think and to reflect. So They serve by asking those who follow, “Who are you becoming?” Where helpful they are willing to offer their own observations but are willing to simply lay the question before the person and allow them to reflect. Serving leaders acknowledge that this question is a deep question for one’s soul and not a means of doing a performance assessment! As they gently ask this question of those who follow, they examine their motives to ensure that their only desire is genuine care for the other person and a desire to see them grow. They refuse to ask this question as an underhanded way to address visible problems. They serve in love by respecting the level of openness the person offers in response. As they invite others to ponder this question, they ask it with several purposes in their mind.

Serving leaders ask “Who are you becoming?“ to reveal direction.

Where appropriate serving leaders may invite those who follow to reflect on their own growth journey by asking, “Are you becoming the spouse/parent/community leader/worker you want to become? Are there ways I can help you move in the direction you want to go? Are there any roadblocks I can remove from your path?” Serving leaders recognize that those who follow them are changing and moving either consciously or unconsciously. They raise the question to bring awareness to their followers of the direction in which they are moving. The question recognizes the uniqueness of each individual and is less concerned about the position on the journey than the direction of the journey.

Serving leaders ask “Who are you becoming?“ to redirect focus.

Serving leaders know their own tendency to lose the correct focus, so they can gently ask those who follow, “Who is influencing you the most? Where do you go for ideas and inspiration? Is this taking you in the direction you want to go?” The question serves as a reminder to the follower that focus is critical in determining direction.

Serving leaders ask “Who are you becoming?“ to release transformation.

The goal of the serving leader is to equip, empower and release the persons who follow. They desire the best for their lives, not only in the role in which they serve the organization but in their entire lives. They serve those who follow by helping them become the people that they were designed to be. So, they ask, “Who are you becoming?” to encourage them to experience the power of transformation in their own lives.  

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Do I have enough love and concern for those I lead to ask them “Who are you becoming?” If not, what does this indicate about my heart and what do I need to change? If so, when will I begin to ask them this question?
  • Before I ask anyone the question “Who are you becoming?” do I have any hidden motives about why I will ask them this question? Is my desire to help them genuine and does it go beyond my concern for their work performance?
  • Am I willing to simply ask the question of others and not demand a response from them? Am I willing to offer my own observations only if requested by that person?               

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at a question serving leaders ask themselves:  “What is in my hand?”

#303 Serving leaders ask themselves: “Who am I Becoming?”

June 23, 2021 

Serving leaders use questions to probe their own leadership journey and to encourage those who follow to do the same. The posture of asking questions helps keep serving leaders aware that they don’t have all the answers and that they are also on their own leadership journey. They ask “Who am I?” to establish their identity as we saw in the previous issue. Then they ask themselves, “Who am I becoming?” to assess their direction. They reflect on Paul’s words to the Corinthian believers, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV). Serving leaders desire to move in the direction of “ever-increasing glory” and stop to reflect on what this means for their own life and leadership.  

Serving leaders ask “Who am I becoming?“ to assess direction.    

Leaders are all moving on a journey, and set tangible goals to measure their progress towards success. They focus on the vision and outcomes with little thought about themselves as persons.  Leaders are moving, usually fast! But serving leaders slow down long enough to ask if they are moving in the right direction. They “are being transformed” and learn to ask themselves who they are becoming. They courageously ask themselves, “Am I becoming more loving? More generous? More compassionate? More sensitive? More truthful? Compared to a year ago, what changes do I see in my life?” These questions serve as signposts for the direction of the leaders’ journey and serving leaders ask themselves these questions to confirm they are moving in the right direction.  

Serving leaders ask “Who am I becoming?“ to assure focus.  Paul reminds us to “contemplate the Lord’s glory…” This is an issue of our focus. Serving leaders ask themselves about the focus of their journey. They are not afraid to ask, “Am I becoming a person more influenced by social media, professional journals, newspapers or Jesus? How does this impact my life and leadership? Am I increasingly turning my heart towards Him and seeking answers from Him about my leadership challenges?” Serving leaders ask hard questions to ensure that their focus is in the right direction.  

Serving leaders ask “Who am I becoming?“ to accelerate transformation.  Paul indicates that our transformation should be with “ever-increasing glory.” Serving leaders pause to reflect on who they are becoming so that their growth will be accelerated. They assess their direction and focus and where needed, make corrections and adjustments. By asking the question of themselves, serving leaders accelerate their own growth. Where needed they set personal growth goals which will be the focus of a future issue in this series.   

Serving leaders learn to ask themselves the question “Who am I becoming?” at least periodically. They set aside some time to think through their responses and often find it helpful to step aside from their normal routines for this reflective question. Put a date and time in your schedule that you will begin to ponder this question.  

For further reflection and discussion: 

  • As I look at my life in the past year, what changes have I made in who I am? Am I moving in the direction that I need to go? How would I finish this sentence, “Since last year I am becoming more …..? What would my spouse or a close friend say about who I am becoming?   
  • Where is my focus? To what sources do I look for inspiration, guidance, ideas and wisdom? Am I becoming a person more focused on Jesus or other sources? What does my calendar indicate about my focus? What changes do I need to make?     
  • How can my personal transformation be accelerated? Based on my answers to the previous questions, what changes do I need to make in my life? With whom do I need to share these things?  

Until next time, yours on the journey, 

Jon Byler 

In the next issue, we’ll examine the same question serving leaders ask of others, “Who are you becoming?”  

#302 Serving Leaders ask those who follow: “Who are you?”

June 9, 2021 

Serving leaders first ask themselves, “Who am I?” But then they take a look at those who follow them and ask a related question, “Who are you?” Serving leaders love those who follow and they desire for their followers the same that they desire for themselves. They invite their followers to also learn about their identity, their strengths and their weaknesses. They invite their followers to also consider Paul’s instruction: “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you” (Romans 12:3, NIV). Serving leaders help their followers to think of themselves with “sober judgement” by asking “Who are you?”  

Serving leaders ask “Who are you?“ to establish identity.  

Serving leaders do not identify their followers only by their role. They acknowledge that each person is unique with an identity beyond what they do. They seek to learn to know each person they lead deeply. They become students of those they lead. With a genuine desire to know they ask, “Who are you?” Beyond questions related to their work, serving leaders often ask questions like, “What makes you laugh? What makes you cry? When do you feel most fully alive?” Serving leaders also want their followers to understand themselves. They ask their followers “Who are you?” to encourage reflection on their own identity.   

Serving leaders ask “Who are you?“ to express strengths.  

Serving leaders recognize that each of their followers have unique gifts that God has given to them. They ask, “Who are you?” to identify those strengths. They are not afraid to ask, “What do you most love to do when you are here? What gives you the most energy? What more would you love to do?” Serving leaders are willing to invest time and energy to identify the greatest strengths of those they lead because they genuinely care about the person. When needed and when possible, they are willing to shift a person’s responsibilities to best fit their strengths.  They focus on the strengths of those they lead and seek to maximize the potential that they see in each person.    

Serving leaders ask “Who are you?“  to expose weaknesses.  

Serving leaders also ask, “Who are you?” to expose the weaknesses in those they lead. As they know for themselves, no one can be strong in every area. Serving leaders don’t expose weaknesses of others to demean or discourage. Instead, they help followers understand their own weaknesses to build a strong team. By recognizing an area of weakness, a follower will be willing to pass off a task to another person on the team gifted in that area. So, serving leaders ask their followers “What parts of your work are not life giving to you? Which elements of your job could be done better by another member of our team?” They listen carefully to the answers and serve by helping the follower to discover ways that others can complement their weaknesses.  

Serving leaders continue the journey of asking the right questions by asking those they serve, “Who are you?” 

For further reflection and discussion: 

  •  For these questions, choose one person you lead and answer the questions based on that person.  
  • On what does this person base their identity? Do I know them well enough that I understand who they are apart from the role they fulfill?  How can I help this person be more secure in their identity? 
  • What are their greatest strengths? How are these expressed in their role? Are there changes I should make to their responsibilities that would allow them to be more closely aligned with their strengths? What potential do I observe in this person and when can I communicate that to them? 
  • What are their greatest weaknesses? Have I explored these with the person in a way that does not diminish their strengths? Have I clearly helped them understand that these are opportunities for teamwork?  Are there any changes I should make in their responsibilities to minimize their weaknesses?   

Until next time, yours on the journey, 

Jon Byler 

In the next issue, we’ll examine another question serving leaders ask themselves: Who am I becoming?