What Bible College Taught Me About Leadership and Being an Entrepreneur

Many know and a lot more don’t, that my day job is actually as a missionary to Puebla, Mexico. In 2001 when I was less than 2 years married and had a 4 month old baby, my husband and I packed up a trailer and moved our things to Puebla, Mexico. When we arrived in Puebla we did not know a soul. Our vision was to plant a church from scratch… something that ended up being a lot harder than we expected, but definitely worth all of the effort!

I had the privilege to attend what was probably the best Bible College in the country at that time. The Bible College I attended was a small college of 200 students in a church of about 2,000. Many of the students were sons and daughters of missionaries or pastors and there were times I felt like an outsider as I was not saved until I was 15 years old and I did not grow up in church. For me, living in a Christian environment was a new and exciting experience and one I jumped fully in to.

One of the main goals of the college I attended was to teach character. The philosophy was that if you have character, all of the other things that you will need to be successful in life will fall into place. Many times I am asked what the secret of my success is. People ask me how I can do what I do while living in a foreign country and also as the mom of 7 kids! As I reflected on this question I began to realize that many of the things that I do on a daily basis with my team and running my business are concepts I learned in Bible college. So here we go: What Bible college taught me about leadership and being an entrepreneur.

Inspect What You Expect. If you expect something to be done, you have to inspect. What is not inspected is not done or it is not done well. This concept and many of the concepts we will be covering apply to not only working with your team, but also with your children! The easiest way for me to explain this is for me to ask you a question. If you tell your 8 year old to go make their bed … what will happen if you don’t go check and look at the “made” bed? Yeah. Children will always rise to the level of expectation that you set for them. So if you tell your 8 year old to go make the bed and then they come to you and ask for permission to go outside and play and if you only ask them… “did you make your bed”… and you don’t go that extra mile and go and check on what exactly “made” is, after you give them permission to go outside and play, an hour or so later when you are walking by their room you will be able to see that your definition of a “made” bed and your 8 year old’s definition are two completely different things! In working with your team the same concept applies. If you tell your team: create a landing page that has an optin that connects to Infusionsoft with a tag and triggers 7 emails for an autoresponder … they may do the work… but I guarantee you, you will need to go in and check the work to make sure that all of the steps were followed, that all of it was done correctly, that the optin works, and that you are going to get the desired results you want and need. Inspect what you expect!

Repetition Aids Learning. In college I studied to be a Secondary Education teacher and one of the things they drilled into us future teachers was that repetition aids learning. It is not enough to say things one time and expect that your team is going to “get” it. People all have different ways of learning and not everyone.. well not a lot of people actually… will learn things the first time you tell them something. I found this out with my own team in the first three months of this year when we began to implement quarterly goals. My executive assistant and I sat down and we created how to guides, documentation, step by step instructions on how to create and track quarterly goals on a weekly basis. I then held several webinars where I taught the entire team how to set and track quarterly goals. I thought everything was going well until I had my 1:1 meetings. Following the first concept of inspect what you expect, I has my assistant schedule 10 minute meetings with each team member so I could personally go over their quarterly goals and discuss with them how they were going to achieve those goals. With a team of 35 at the time that would have been close to 6 hours of meetings but not one single meeting lasted 10 minutes! As I began to talk with each team member, the majority of them had no idea what they were doing. They were setting goals that they could not achieve, they did not understand the process of how to use the new forms we created, and some could not determine what would be appropriate goals for themselves. It was a mess. I found that as I explained again what they needed to do, I was explaining the exact same thing I explained on the webinar, usually in almost the exact same words, yet when I explained it in a 1:1 chat in skype, it somehow and for some reason, finally “clicked”. Repetition aids learning.

Set Clear Expectations. Every semester all of us college students were given a student handbook with all of the rules written down. They say that for every rule you could put a person’s name by it. (Like the rule that said you could not wear hair curlers to the community dining hall …. Yikes!) One of the things I appreciated was the consistency. If some student decided to do something crazy like set off their Micky Mouse alarm clock at midnight making all of the girls think it was a fire alarm and then stand on the balcony and laugh at everyone that was outside in their pajamas (not naming names here), well she did not get any demerits because there was not a rule against that! (Although she did have a few girls mad at her the next day!) It is the same with kids. We are about to put our kids into a Christian school for the first time in their lives and the first thing they asked for was if they could see the rule book so that they could study it and make sure they did not break any rules as they did not want to get any demerits. I honestly believe that people want to please the authority. Your staff wants to do a good job. They want to please their boss. The problem is that your staff works for an Entrepreneur. You know what that means? Every time you get a new great idea, you are running off into another direction and creating another to do list a mile long and your staff can barely keep up with you! If you are not careful, you will be setting your staff up for failure. They will be so burdened with all of the different tasks and the fact that everything is urgent and needs to be done NOW, that they will get overwhelmed and feel like a failure when in reality, you have failed them as you have failed to set clear expectations.

Balance is the Key. What is success to you? How do you judge success? How will you determine if your life was successful or not? I have seen it over and over. The most “successful” entrepreneurs have been married and divorced five times, their kids hate them, and they are always chasing after that next big thing. Always pushing to something bigger and greater. You have to remember the why. When your 5 year old comes in your office and asks you to talk to you and you say, “Not now, I am working” .. or when your 2 year old comes and decides that the white board you just used to map out your newest strategy is the perfect place to draw on with permanent marker… or your spouse looks at you and asks for the fifth time, “are you coming to bed yet?” … you have lost that balance. One of the things they taught us in college is to always prioritize. Family first, church and ministry second, job third. There is never a conflict when you have the right priorities. How else can you keep that balance? Have a weekly date night with your spouse.. without the kids! Have a family night or a family afternoon when you do something at least once a week with your family… fly a kite.. play Scrabble… something that will facilitate communication. And eat dinner together. Without technology. Put away the cell phones and have a conversation. You will be a better entrepreneur a better boss and be able to always experience true success!

What do you think? Do you have any other ideas and tips about what is required to have balance in your life? About how to be a good leader?
If you enjoyed this post, please leave a comment below! I would love to hear your thoughts.

3 thoughts on “What Bible College Taught Me About Leadership and Being an Entrepreneur”

  1. I feel like I just looked behind the curtain. As one of your team members, I can honestly say I value a leader with these principles, especially one who recognizes the challenge of keeping up with an entrepreneur’s continual stream of ideas. As an ideas person myself, I struggle to find the time to implement everything I envision, but I still love to envision.

    As a seminary graduate, I appreciate the overlap of these principles. Thanks for sharing.


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