4 Ways to Make Your Leaders Better
Here’s a fun fact about me: I am a huge Marvel fan. While this might not be a blog post about my predictions for what’s coming next in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (you can DM me for those), this will be about a theme throughout the movies that immediately captured me: The power of a team.
Who doesn’t love the idea of The Avengers? Assembling a team of people that are great at what they do sounds like a win for everybody involved. However, far too often, we don’t see this same idea lived out in youth ministry. Whether it’s getting caught up in the whirlwind of other day-to-day responsibilities, skepticism that a team can make a difference, or negative past experiences that have caused some pain, it’s not uncommon to see youth pastors trying to survive as heroic solo leaders without a great team around them.
Especially in these days of COVID and new realities of and for youth ministry, having a great team is more vital than ever before. According to The Barna Group, roughly 3 in 10 pastors have given serious consideration to quitting over the past year. These are tough times to do ministry in, and a great team of youth ministry “Avengers” can make all the difference.
Here are four simple things you can do with the team who are assembling around you now to make them better leaders:
In the book The Anatomy of Peace, the authors describe how a person’s heart can be in two different states: A heart at peace or a heart at war. During stress or conflict, our hearts can turn from being at peace to being at war with a person, place, or thing in front of us. The major shift that they use to describe a heart at war is, “seeing others as objects.”
Seeing people as people is a key to having a heart at peace, and it’s an important key in helping leaders reach their full potential. I’ve often heard the famous quote from Theodore Roosevelt about students in youth ministry: “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” The same is true for our leaders, they won’t care about how much we can teach them about students, until they know that we care about them as a person.
Gut check question: Do you see that person as the “8th Grade Boys Small Group Leader,” or as Steve? Do you see them as the “12th Grade Girls Small Group Leader,” or as Jessica? Do you know about their families, jobs, celebrations, struggles? Or, are you just asking about how the night went with their students? To make leaders better, it starts with caring about who they really are.
Let’s face it, sometimes it’s tough to have a meaningful conversation with a leader while a four-square ball is flying over your head. Our youth ministry program nights have a lot happening during them and might not be the most ideal time to talk with a leader. Instead of trying to rush everything on a single night, make it a priority to schedule time during the week for a regular check in. This can happen a couple different ways.
First, there’s power in a weekly check-in. Much like we try our best as pastors and leaders to check in with students each week, we can check in with our leaders, too. Maybe you want to compliment them on something you saw them do well or you want to let them know you are praying for them. This helps build trust and lets them know you care.
In addition to weekly check-ins, there’s also the opportunity to check in with leaders in a deeper way every six months. This is a more focused time for you to dive deeper in any personal struggles or ministry obstacles that your leaders are facing. A few years ago, we started doing these check-ins with leaders by asking the same three questions:
- How is it with your soul?
- How is it with your ministry?
- Is there anything I can do to help make you a better leader?
These have been game changers for our leaders and I hope you experience the same!
Many of our leaders love Jesus and love students, but they might need some help in learning the tools to be a great youth leader. This is where we can be intentional about coaching leaders. Whether it’s sharing articles from the YS Blog, a video on volunteer training, or a great book, we have a role in being the coach to help leaders better their skills.
So that coaching does not get lost in the whirlwind of your week, create a plan or schedule of what you can share with your team. For example, if you read a great blog online, save the article and set a reminder to share it with your team in a couple weeks. Being intentional about what tools and practices you share with leaders can make everyone better.
Everybody loves a reason to celebrate! Any chance you have to celebrate a leader, do it. Whether it’s a volunteering anniversary, the way they handled a crisis with a student, their tenure of service as they step away, or anything in-between, don’t be shy about being joyful as a team about it. A mentor once told me that what gets celebrated gets repeated. If we want healthy practices, behaviors, and culture to stick, then let’s celebrate well.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.