The 7 Leadership Secrets of World Class Youth Leaders
We’re excited to have Greg Stier as one of our NYWC speakers. This blog post is a great start to the conversations he’ll be navigating in his seminar: Gospelize Your Ministry. Check out more information HERE.
I just spent a full week with a group of world class youth leaders from 21 states and 5 nations. We inspired, equipped and deployed hundreds of teenagers to make and multiply disciples at a full week prayer, evangelism and discipleship immersion event called Lead THE Cause.
Many of these youth leaders have been coming for years and implementing the values they’ve been learning in powerful and practical ways. As a result it feels like a gathering of veteran spiritual warriors (those who’ve been before) training a group of newly recruited ones (first timers.)
Many of these youth leaders have experienced extensive growth in their youth ministries due to teenagers reaching their peers for Christ. At the same time they’ve taken their youth groups deeper into the Word, worship and and the wonder of a relationship with Jesus.
This morning as I reflect on the youth leaders who attended Lead THE Cause, I noticed some defining characteristics of these excellent youth leaders. I am convinced these are the 7 characteristics of every truly world class youth leader:
They saturate everything in prayer.
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2
Prayer is the engine not the caboose of who these youth leaders are and how they operate. They saturate everything in prayer and challenge their teenagers to do the same. Prayer for the lost and for each other are common. Youth leaders and teenagers alike have a list of the lost they are seeking to reach.
They are authentically humble.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2
The best leaders are the best learners hey learn because they are humble. They are willing to acknowledge mistakes and missteps and learn from them. Prideful leaders don’t learn from mistakes. They defend, denounce and deny. As a result they don’t grow in their impact.
They recruit the best leaders.
“The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” Luke 6:40
World class youth leaders recruit world class adult and student leaders. They refuse to just put the “clean and shiny” teens who know all the verses in leadership positions. No, the best student leaders have Gospel grit. They don’t just set up folding chairs for the youth meeting but fill them with the teens they are seeking to reach for Christ.
The adult leaders are models of prayer, evangelism and discipleship multiplication. This, of course, means that the youth leaders don’t do the “whosoever will may come” volunteer call during the church announcements. Instead they pray for and pursue the adults (no matter how old) who best model what they want their teenagers to look like when they grow up and then do their best to get them to say “yes” to working with the youth group.
They “Gospelize” their ministries!
“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2
The best youth leaders are gospel-driven. They seek to build a “Gospel Advancing” ministry mindset that relentlessly pursues the mission of Jesus by relationally multiplying disciples resulting in radical Gospel transformation.
These youth leaders not only give the Gospel in every meeting they equip their students to engage their peers in Gospel conversations on a consistent basis. They understand that when teenagers engage in relational evangelism it accelerates the discipleship process because it causes teenagers to risk their social equity like nothing else. It enables them to die to themselves (by risking a social death) and follow Jesus.
They have a bold vision for their teens and their community.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
World class youth leaders have a big and bold vision. They want every teen within their proximity to have the opportunity to hear, understand and respond to the Gospel. They long to see their teenagers’ schools transformed and their communities reached. They won’t stop until God raises up a missionary force in and through their youth groups who will saturate their “Jerusalem” (and beyond) with the Good News of Jesus!
They have a blast teaching, leading and discipling teenagers.
“At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.” Luke 10:21
If you think of Jesus as a youth leader (which I do) its easy to see what brought him the most joy…his disciples getting it! In this passage Jesus is filled with great joy because they just returned from a big outreach and really understood the lesson he just taught them.
The best youth leaders have fun. They know how to prank and play as well as how to pray and program. But underneath all of the laughter they have a deep and steady joy because their teenagers are getting all of the lessons they are downloading into their souls along the way.
They genuinely love teenagers.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
My old youth ministry professor, RJ Koerper, once said, “Teenagers are asking three questions of the youth leaders who work with them, ‘Do you love Jesus? Do you love me’ and ‘Are you for real?'” The best youth leaders can answer an enthusiastic “YES!” to all three questions.
World class youth leaders have their challenges. After all, nobody is perfect (especially me!) but their love for God and teenagers cover a multitude of inadequacies. Teenagers who are loved by youth leaders flock to them like a bee to a pollen-filled flower.
These are seven characteristics of world class youth leaders.
Leave me a comment about any of these or about any characteristics you think I may have missed.
Greg Stier founded Dare 2 Share Ministries in 1991 with one mission: to equip teenagers to relationally and relentlessly share the gospel of Christ with their generation. Through true-life stories and humor, Greg has impacted hundreds of thousands of teenagers. His ministry is also dedicated to providing resources to train youth leaders and their ministries to have a gospel-advancing mindset. Greg has written more than 17 books, published countless articles, and spoken at numerous Christian events across the country.
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.