Last week I was making some breakfast and had a run in with a difficult egg. I was working very hard to crack the egg so that I could make my omelet. After tapping it forcefully a few times, a little chip finally gave away. Unfortunately, the "membrane" around the egg stay in tact. I literally had to take my thumb and shove it in to get the insides out. As I was cleaning up the inevitable mess this made, I found myself saying, "Whew, that was a tough egg to get into." I immediately thought about the old description, "a tough egg to crack."
I'm facing a "tough egg to crack" as a leader right now. The ministry that I serve is experiencing lots of change. This year new students seem totally different than those who were new last year. Much of what our ministry does is not connecting with this new group, or at least not connecting in the same way. For one example, a few years ago our catch phrase was, "A Place to Call Home." We had t-shirts with our ministry building placed in the middle of a city skyline. Students identified that we could offer people a second family and a home away from home. That is not resonating with this group at all. Even in the span of three or four years, these students are now so connected to their own families through cell phones and technology that they are not looking for a new family or a new home. Many of them grew up in event based youth ministry or at least grew up constantly having entertainment available. Coming to our ministry events has to be worth their while. There has to be a reason to give up the cell phones, the games, the unlimited streaming of media. Perhaps the biggest change is the pressure of getting a job. They are fully aware how difficult it is to get a job or get into a grad school program. They have to be so involved in professional groups on campus and volunteering in their fields of study that without really good time management skills, it makes it difficult to be a part of a ministry like ours.
This is the challenge of good leadership. I joked earlier this year that leadership is like being a ninja, but again I think there is much truth in that. You must be able to assess the situation just like the Green Hornet's side kick, looking for the danger spots and your assets. You must be able to have a vision for the future. You must, while being true to who you are as a leader, discover what type of leadership is the most effective for this group of people. What this group needs from me is very different from what's be needed in the past which challenges me to find new ways to lead out of my strengths and muster the courage to lead in new areas that are not as comfortable.
So, for now I'm still trying to figure out how to get into the egg, making as little mess as possible.