Many students who are considering Youth Ministry as a course of study come to the idea because of preconceived notions about what the position is like, or what it should be like. In Part 1 of this series, we looked at the first four of our “Spiritual Qualifications for youth leadership” Remember, we are looking outside of the qualifications for a pastor, which are applicable if that is the position you seek. You can make yourself familiar with them in 1 Timothy 3; Titus 1; and 1 Peter 5.
The purpose of this post is to give you more of an introspective look at yourself and help you think through “what it takes.” Ok, with all that out of the way, let’s consider some more thoughts about what it takes to be a youth leader.
What It Takes: Spiritually Part 2
” … whatever you ask in prayer, believing you will receive” (Matt 21:22) How wonderful it is to know that this promise is spoken and backed by the only One who is able to ensure its fulfillment. Christ offers us another promise in John 15:5 that is very sobering, “… without me, you can do nothing. …” The contrasting truth is that with and through Christ, as a youth leader and in every other aspect of life, we can do “all things” (Phil 4: 13). A Christian life without prayer is comparable to going through life able to comprehend instructions and receive displays of emotion, but not able to return emotions, ask questions, say “thank you”, or even ask for favors. A life without prayer is a life lacking the most crucial element, pleading for the eternal souls of the very people for whom you claim to have a burden.
A life without prayer is a life lacking the most crucial element, pleading for the eternal souls of the very people for whom you claim to have a burden.
In youth ministry, prayer is not only needed and important, but is an ongoing daily prerequisite to being used of God by His grace, doing His work, and all for His glory. Youth leaders need to always keep this privilege at the forefront of their personal and professional walk.
Willingness to be a servant
Author Gene Wilkes lays out some great wisdom on being a servant leader in His book Jesus on Leadership. Here are a couple of his thoughts. First, servant leaders humble themselves and wait for God to exalt them. This is a tough lesson to learn young, but it will impact so many areas of life if it can be learned early. Servant leaders are also willing to give up personal rights to find greatness in service to others. In short, they have others interests in mind far ahead of their own. Wilkes also says that servant leaders can risk serving others because they trust God is in control of their lives. This is a great point. Sometimes we shy from the menial tasks because we don’t want to be seen as the “trash guy” we want people to see us as the “go-to guy.” The truth is, God’s economy is not like ours. In God’s eyes, “the first shall be last” and “the servant will be the leader.”
Servant leaders multiply their leadership by empowering others to lead.
Finally, servant leaders multiply their leadership by empowering others to lead. This is most often the hardest part for young leaders (LOOK OUT!!!) because they are thinking of getting the task done quickly, or to perfection, or “just the way I want it.” The truth is, when you equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:12) you are doing biblical ministry, not just getting a task completed.
Have you met or worked with that person who is a know-it-all? Anyone who has been in ministry for very long has heard a senior pastor say, “I would rather hire someone who is teachable and has no skills, than someone who has all the skills and lacks a teachable spirit”. If a person is a decent senior pastor, he wants to have an impact on the people he leads. That includes you as a leader or youth pastor.
“I would rather hire someone who is teachable and has no skills, than someone who has all the skills and lacks a teachable spirit.”
The parents of your teens will also want to know that you are willing to hear about their schedules and frustrations and be willing to adjust accordingly. Want to know if you have a teachable spirit? Take a very tough test. Go to your parents, a former teacher, or an employer. Tell them you are doing some self-evaluation and you need to ask a tough question. Then, let ‘er rip! (WARNING: This could sting a little!) Don’t ask if you can’t handle an honest answer. Honest feedback is a huge part of working in youth ministry, whether requested or not.
Read the next part in this series here!