Lessons from a Mentoring Week: How Leaders Approach Obstacles

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After a full day of mentoring in the leadership crucible of Willow Creek, God used an off-handed comment over dinner to drive home my biggest leadership take-away of the day.

With 100 church leaders from around the world huddled in dinner conversations following 10 hours of training, the pastor sitting next to me commented, “You know, I really needed this training. But the way the economy hit our church, I didn’t think I’d be able to afford to come down here this week. But I talked to a few people and I found the money.

I found the money.

Immediately the thought struck me, “That’s what leaders do.” When the eyes of a leader are fixed on a goal, they’ll process obstacles very differently than a non-leader. Let’s break this down:

1. He articulated the goal: I really needed this training. – Leaders are never vague about their goals and priorities.

2. He defined the obstacle: I didn’t think I’d be able to afford it. – Leaders declare reality.

3. He formulated a plan: I talked to a few people. – Leaders thrive on strategy.

4. He moved toward action: I found the money. – To borrow Bill Hybels’ axiom, leaders have a bias toward action.

What obstacles are in front of you right now and how are you approaching these problems? Do you need a team to tackle a new project but no one’s available? Do you need to cut through government red tape to expand a ministry? Do you need to position your organization for growth but your organization’s structure is holding you back?

Whatever obstacles lie in your path, remember the leadership lessons I encountered tonight. Articulate your goal, define your obstacle, formulate your plan, and move toward action.

It’s just what leaders do.

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