Three myths that keep ministry leaders from developing a “growth mindset” and how to overcome them.
Do you think that great leaders are just born or is it possible to learn how to be a great leader.
The science says, “yes”!
Great leaders are both born AND developed. They are born with certain character attributes that help them be great leaders. But nearly 2/3rds of leadership ability comes from learned behavior. That is why having a growth mindset is so key to growing into a next level leader. A growth mindset is the belief that your talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others).
The idea of the growth mindset was popularized by psychologist Carol Dweck. A growth mindset is the understanding that intelligence and ability are not fixed but can be developed through dedication and hard work. Or more simply, a growth mindset is the belief that you can get better at something by dedicating time and energy to it.
This may seem like common sense but think how many things don’t happen simply because people don’t try. “I can’t write a book, I’m not a writer” would be an example of a “fixed” mindset. A growth mindset would say, “I know that if I really worked at it I could learn how to write a book.” Do you see the difference?
Jesus doesn’t use these terms but we can see this same distinction in His Parable of the Talents. (Matthew 25:14-30). Two of the servants given talents (a form of currency) utilize them, multiply them and bring back a return to their master. One servant is too afraid to lose the one talent that he has so he buries it and eventually returns it to the master. Look at how the master responds! He is not happy. The expectation is that we will use and grow the talents that God has given us.
Now, that can sound heavy handed, but the truth is, we have a grace-filled opportunity. The road toward growth can be challenging and require sacrifice, but there are few joys on this side of heaven that give us as much fulfillment as accomplishing something we weren’t sure we could and learning new skills along the way. It is a gift from God to lean into these challenges.
The expectation is that we will use and grow the talents God has given us
Here are three myths that keep many people from developing a growth mindset and how to to overcome them:
MYTH 1: PEOPLE WILL LOSE RESPECT FOR ME IF I ADMIT THAT I AM WRONG
One of the largest barriers to having a growth mindset is our own fear of being wrong. In a culture that is literally cancelling people if you don’t agree with them, that fear is not surprising. However, one of the best ways to grow is to learn from our own mistakes. The only way to not make any mistakes is to not do anything. Making mistakes is part of the human existence. What we do with our mistakes is what differentiates great leaders. Dave Ramsey has built a booming Financial Peace business from paying, as he calls it, the “dumb tax”. He made the mistakes, he learned from them and he changed. Now you can learn from his mistakes too.
Ironically, you will find more people gain respect for you when they see how you rise up after a mistake than they would if you never made the mistake in the first place. That said, there is no fulfillment to be found in basing your self-worth in the approval of others. It is fickle and it is fleeting. Knowing who we are in the Lord is the real recipe for joy and fulfillment. You are infinitely loved by a God who literally laid down Jesus’ (His own) life for you. You are not loved because you are good. But you are good because you are loved. Leaning into this truth can give us the courage to press on and learn from our mistakes instead of being paralyzed by them.
MYTH 2: I’LL NEVER BE THE KIND OF PERSON WHO DOES "THAT"
If you believe that you can’t, well then, you definitely won’t. Your “I’m not good at…” can keep you from even trying. Around age 35 I remember a common mantra for me was, “I am not a runner.” I ran the mile in the 8th grade (barely) and was content to never run again in my life. But a friend of mine challenged me to do one of those obstacle runs, the one where you pay people to torture you and because you’re doing it with friends you do it anyway. Suddenly, I had to at least try running or I was not going to make it.
That summer changed many things. Years later I’m still running miles every week and I would even tell you it is fun! If I would have stuck with my initial mentality and not pressed into a new thing, I would have missed out on hours of good prayer time, physical fitness and connection with friends. It has been a tremendous blessing. What might God be calling you to get out and try?
- Speaking of busting myths, I recommend listening to this episode of the Storybrand podcast with guest Adam Savage from Mythbusters: 7 Eye-Opening Ways to Be More Creative
MYTH 3: I’VE ALREADY LEARNED ALL I CAN
If the Bible teaches you anything beyond the saving grace of Jesus and how to love your neighbor, I pray that it is this: there is always more to learn. I have been studying and teaching out of the Bible for more than two decades. I have read the Bible cover to cover multiple times. I have learned Biblical Greek and Hebrew for deeper study. And I can tell you that the deeper I go into the Word, the deeper I find it to be. Layers upon layers of new, deeper and more impactful teaching. There is so much more to learn. And some of my greatest “a-ha” moments have come from seeing a passage of the Bible I thought I had mastered in a new light. The new teaching does not debunk the old but I find deeper and deeper application and meaning in it. The best part of having a growth mindset is that it keeps us always hungry to learn more and more about our limitless God and what His Word has to say to us