8 Things Every Youth Leader Should Know
If you’re struggling in your role as a youth leader – you’re not alone! Youth ministry is messy, frustrating, and draining, even on the good days. Sometimes it feels like you’re just talking to a wall (or maybe your kids are driving you up a wall). Either way, we have some helpful tips every youth leader should know. From how to get your students to have a good discussion to connecting with distant kids, and even some advice on self-care as a leader, there’s a lot of good stuff in here! Keep pushing through, and you will experience the fruit of your labors.
Seems simple enough, right? So many times we like to put all these different levels of achievement on serving and spirituality. It’s our default to compare ourselves and our accomplishments with those around us. The other high school leaders have had new people every week in their group, and I still have the same 6. Fill in the blank with their strength and your weakness. Not only is this a bad attitude that sets us up for envy and bitterness towards our brothers and sisters in Christ, it also gives us an incorrect view of what makes a good leader. If you show up, love Jesus, and serve the kids, then you are a good leader. That’s it. Everything else is up to God.
Put Your Relationship With God First
This isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. Phrases like, “You can only lead someone as far as you’ve gone” may be cliché, but they still carry weight. If you aren’t pursuing your own relationship with Jesus, how can you honestly encourage kids that it’s important to their faith? On this same note, it’s ok to be vulnerable and share your struggles with your students. As long as you’re not dumping your problems on them or seeking them to validate you like you might with a close friend. Instead, share your struggles from a place of humility and transparency. When you open up, so will your kids!
Speaking of humility, this is a key to becoming an impactful leader. You don’t have to be coolest, holiest, or trendiest person to be a good leader – in fact, these things may only add to your detriment. Be yourself. Be genuine. Kids will know if you’re just trying to impress them or tell them what they want to hear. How you present yourself to your students is so important, as you are shaping their view of God. That is huge! If they perceive you as too cool or holy, they will distance themselves from you or think that they, too, need to be trendy in order to be spiritual. Just be honest!
Seek Out The Loners
If you’ve been in ministry for any amount of time, just reading the word “loner” conjures up an image of at least one or two students, am I right? No matter how inviting, fun, or open your youth group is, there will always be students who don’t participate. Whether they want people to think they are too cool to be there or they are just painfully shy, it’s our job to have intentional conversations with them and engage them on a personal level. We don’t know everything about these student’s home life and school life. Sometimes kids stand in a corner to see if anyone will notice – be the one to notice them!