With the decision to step down from our leadership position in our youth group and to begin looking for a new church, I’ve started to reflect on my time as a youth leader.
Being a youth leader was a lot of fun. It’s where my wife and I have felt called for all of our marriage and then some. We love the students we’ve had the opportunity to minister to.
We’ve learned so much from leading these precious kids. We’ve also learned so much FROM those same kids.
1. Be authentic: There’s nothing I’ve learned more from leading students than the need to be authentic.
What we preached to our kids, we had to make sure we were living out in our lives. Why? Because if we weren’t being true to the message we gave, the students would call us on it.
Whether that was in youth group or as we’re growing through a store, they were watching us. And that meant we had to live what we preached.
2. Be willing to serve, in any capacity: Having enough staff could be a problem with our youth group. Many youth leaders would come and go. Many without warning.
This meant we could be preparing for service and discover we didn’t have someone to setup chairs or to run the snack shack.
When this happened, we had to be flexible in our ability to serve. We had to take on roles that weren’t ours and make sure things ran smoothly.
Don’t think your only role to serve is in what’s been defined. Be willing to step up and into roles that need to be filled.
3. Be able to have fun: You can only imagine how much fun working with students can be. They’re full of energy and full of mischief.
Not only that, they’ve been cooped up at school, unable to release the energy they have.
When it was time for youth group, it wasn’t only a time for learning. It was a time for fun.
Learn to let loose once in awhile. You’ll see there’s more to leading than rules and teaching.
4. Be someone who listens: Each of our students had a unique story. Their backgrounds were as diverse as could be.
And every student wanted someone who would validate them and listen to their story.
Our listening ear may be just what someone needs today. Don’t turn away from them. Rather, be willing to listen to what they’re going through.
5. Be aware you may not see results: We’re a results orientated society. We want to judge the success of youth groups, churches, and organizations by the growth we see in the size of the group or in the changes you can see in students.
I’ve learned it’s not that easy. Our role as youth leaders may never let us see the fruit of our labors.
We’re called to be the sowers. We’re called to be the waterers.
If we’re lucky, we see the fruit. Otherwise, we need to be content with knowing we laid the foundation.
6. Be ready to invest: Working in a youth group takes a lot of time and commitment. You have to be willing to invest yourself in the lives of your students.
This means taking vacation time to go on youth group trips to Cedar Point or some other amusement park. Maybe it’s overnight trips to go see Dare 2 Share or Acquire The Fire.
You also have to be willing to spend time at the church with the students. You have to have a desire to go to their extra-curricular activity.
Serving in youth ministry is a lot like being a parent. It’s an investment of our lives into the future generation of leaders.
7. Be willing to step away: The most difficult lesson I’ve learned has been that we have to be willing to step away from the ministry when it’s time.
Our decision came through a lot of prayer and a lot of God speaking words of confirmation to us, regardless of how much we didn’t want to hear that we needed to go.
Even Kent Sanders, one of my blog readers, made a stinging comment the day we announced it to our lead pastor. His comment?
But the funny thing is that sometimes when you stay in something too long, that actually prevents someone else from doing the job and growing themselves.
You will receive confirmation when it’s time to move on. Be willing to listen to the voice of God and take your leave when He tells you to.
Question: What leadership lessons have you learned from leading? I want to see them in the comment section below.