Why Leaders Need to Keep Growing Too





Dan-Reiland-headshotIf you love to learn, improve and grow, think back on who helped to ignite that fire within you.

A mentor in my late teen years, Ray Crowell, was the first person to inspire me to grow as a person. He taught me to think, and he challenged my thinking. From philosophy to human nature—oh yeah, and girls—we talked about everything. My world became larger because of Ray.

John Maxwell is my longtime friend and mentor in life and leadership. I graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary thinking I was ready to pastor and lead. Little did I know—and it’s a good thing John was there. From attitude to relationships, he poured into me as a young leader. My life would never be the same.

One of the things that amazes me about John is that in his mid-60s, he is as aggressive as ever about his own learning, improvement and growth. He’s equally passionate about helping others to grow!

How about you? What are you reading? What are you learning? Who do you ask questions and learn from? How are you better at what you do this year than last year? As I like to say to our staff at 12Stone Church, in what ways are you a “bigger, better, stronger” person today than a year ago?

I think God has put something special inside you. You have certain gifts, talents and abilities that make you unique and full of potential. It doesn’t matter how old you are; it’s never too late to learn and grow.

Growing as a person, and specifically as a leader, does at least three things for you:

1. It increases your capacity. You are good at something right now. You may be very good at something or at several things. That reflects your competence. Capacity is different. Capacity is the intangible element that allows you to get better at increasing levels of complexity, speed and pressure. In short, you can lead larger and accomplish more. If you lead a church of 400 really well, that’s competence. The question of capacity is: Can you lead the same church at 800? When you continue to grow, you increase your capacity.

2. It enlarges your world. Other than a couple fun family trips to places like Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (I was a Southern Cal kid), my first real-world travel was to South Africa in my late 20s. I experienced a whole new world, and I would never be the same. My world had literally enlarged, but more importantly, I was bigger for it as a person. That’s what growth does. Obviously travel is only one way to grow, but it’s a good picture. Growth is about learning new things, meeting new people, trying something different, taking risks and leading at higher levels.

3. It makes life more fun. When I was younger, I was altogether too serious. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my friends and a good party, but let’s just say I was very focused. Today I’m still very focused, but I’ve learned the importance of enjoying life more along the way. That came from being stretched and challenged by people who did that better than I did. Growth! When you grow, you add variety, new things, adventures and challenges to your life. Life is better and more fun. I know that doesn’t sound very deep, but please trust me—it’s important.

Personal growth requires something from you, but it’s so worth it. I’m offering you a few questions to consider that will help you dig in and make progress:

1. What price are you willing to pay? When I shop for something, from a shirt to a car, there are certain prices I just won’t pay. I won’t pay $75 for a shirt. Some people will. I won’t pay $45,000 for a car. People will. We all have a limit. Now, when it comes to chocolate, I will pay $2.50 for one piece! We will all pay for what we want. You have to decide what you will pay for growth because it’s not free. It will cost you time, effort, energy and money. There is no getting around it. But just like Godiva, it’s so worth it.

2. What risks are you willing to take? In 1997, when my family and I moved from San Diego to Atlanta with John Maxwell and INJOY, it was a big risk. Patti and I were leaving a lifetime of dear friends, wonderful experiences, ministry success and family. Hey, we were trading the Pacific Ocean for the Chattahoochee River! Nonetheless, I knew God was in it, and we trusted and loved John. But here’s the kicker: I knew if I stayed there, I wouldn’t grow. The move turned out to be the ride of a lifetime ... and I’m still growing!

3. What is your vision for the next you? It’s important that you have a picture of the next you. I’m not talking about the P90X or CrossFit kind of next you, although that could be part of your vision. Perhaps discipline and physical fitness is part of the deal. But I’m really asking more about the picture you have in mind when you consider where you are now and where you want to be as a person, a leader, a friend, a parent, a spouse and a Christ follower. Without that picture in mind, it’s difficult to get there. You always want to remain true to yourself, but be all of yourself—to the fullest! There is always a next.

4. When will you commit to a plan for growth? I just got back from a jog, and a really slow one at that. It was more of a goofy-looking power walk. But three miles is three miles, and when I added in 40 push-ups and some lunges, I made my commitment for the day. That’s what it’s about: a plan and a commitment to stick to it. You and I can’t grow without a plan.

I always want to keep growing as a leader, and so I need a plan for growth. And I’m always looking for practical and encouraging tools to help me grow.

Let me tell you about a new one. John Maxwell just came out with a new book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. It’s really good. Get a copy, and keep growing!

I hope this article has been encouraging to you, maybe even inspiring. My prayer is that you keep growing!

Dan Reiland is executive pastor of 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Ga., listed in Outreach magazine as the No. 1 fastest-growing church in America in 2010. He has worked closely with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as executive pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as vice president of leadership and church development at INJOY. His semi-monthly e-newsletter, The Pastor’s Coach, is distributed to more than 40,000 subscribers. Dan is the author of Amplified Leadership, released in January 2012.

For the original article, visit danreiland.com.

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