In my five years of being a youth pastor, one major thing I have learned is that you CANNOT do everything yourself. If we can all be honest, and if you’re like me, I think most leaders are the “get it done” type of leaders. We tend to be in everything, and at one point or another, we are doing everything from: setup, tear down, cleaning crew, creative elements, worship, sound, media, etc.. You name it, we’re doing it!
Furthermore, as young leaders, we must continuously develop and refine our leadership skills in order to invest in leading others as best as we can. These are three T’s I have learned through the process of building a team of young people, and I would encourage you to apply, or refine, these practical principles.
Invest time! As young leaders, we must invest time into the next generation and those we are leading. We must invest time into the few we are multiplying ourselves in, invest time into our leadership teams, and invest time into those who enter the doors of our youth ministry.
Our TIME during the day is valuable, and everyone seems to be busy, but if there’s one thing we can learn from Jesus, it’s that he always had TIME for people. He invested a significant amount of time into His twelve disciples, and He invested time into lives that crossed His path on a daily basis, no matter who they were or where Jesus was going. He took TIME out of HIS schedule to invest time into people. The time Jesus spent with people demonstrated that people mattered to Him, and that people should mater to us.
Here are some practical ways you can do this: First, invest time into yourself. We can never lead others if we are not first leading ourselves (non-negotiable). Second, invest time into your leadership team with meetings and hanging out with them possibly once a month. Get to know them and how they are doing outside of church/ministry. Third, invest time into the young people who make it through your doors. Make time to greet and have small talk with them. You can’t do this alone. Your team must also make people feel loved and welcomed every time.
Young people can be distant, and they may not trust you at first; this is okay. But, as you invest time into them, they will see more and more what you are really about. Many times, we try to recruit young people on our teams when they don’t know who we are, what we are about, and what they are getting into (not everyone grew up in church). As young leaders, we must gain their trust, and the only way to do this is by serving them. Before they can serve you and your ministry, you must first serve them. Young people can’t be fooled, and know if you are really there for them, or just trying to use them to fulfill your dreams. Genuinely serve young people, and in return, they will genuinely serve you. In the Kingdom of God, we are called to serve. As leaders, we serve first. Then, in due time, we will reap what we sow; at the end of the day, it’s a continuous cycle of serving one another in His Kingdom.
One of John Maxwell’s books is titled “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work.” This should be our goal when working with young people and building our teams. The time you invest into young people, and the trust you gain by serving them, are key components to our teams. Just know that as we lead in ministry, there will be times that will be challenging, discouraging, frustrating, and depressing. There will even be times where you will want to quit. But at the end of the day, if we can understand, as leaders, that we are a part of something bigger, that it’s NOT ABOUT US, and model this to our teams, we are headed in the right direction. When it’s not about us, we genuinely work together to fulfill the vision/mission.
Peter and Maggie Mireles lead The Fuse Student Ministry with a passion of serving their city and the young people in it. They live in Progreso with their daughter Chaylie and baby #2 on the way, serving as youth pastors at CDV Church in Progreso, TX under the leadership of Pastors Joe and Noemi Davila.