Every teenager has leadership potential. More than potential, however, every teenager has influence. My job, as someone who desires to expand my leadership influence, is to help students learn to do the same.
Over my time working with students, I’ve developed a conviction or two. One of those convictions: sometimes a gruff exterior doesn’t mean a hard heart. In fact, sometimes the most amazing blessings come from being able to look beyond a teenager’s appearance and see the kind, gentle, humble heart hanging out below the surface.
But getting to the heart can be tricky more times than not. Some kids put up walls to prevent further hurt. Some kids put up fronts to keep people from knowing who they are. Some kids tear themselves down so their peers don’t have a chance to do so.
Adults do this, too. I don’t think this is a surprise to anyone. This is a people issue.
Our job, as leaders, is to try to look beyond the surface and to watch for glimpses of someone’s heart, then call that out of them. It’s not always easy, and it is often exhausting. But when you see someone step up and exert positive influence, it’s always worth it.
So, who is someone in your sphere of influence that needs a little extra attention? Whose personality is really strong, but may just be a front to hide what’s underneath because they’re afraid to let others know they’re kind and gentle? Who do you need to shift your view of today?
Have you ever read something from someone else and thought “That’s exactly what I think!”? Well, that happened to me this morning.
Doug Franklin at LeaderTreks consistently develops quality student leadership resources, and I got an email in my inbox today that led to pure gold. (Side note, when I find someone with content I value and think is worth my time, I subscribe to their email list–I hope you’ll consider subscribing to 3QL!)
Here’s a clip from the article:
What I mean is, what if student leadership wasn’t another program we add on top of our youth ministries and busy schedules, but was something we integrated into what we’re already doing? We’re already doing worship, service, retreats, mission trips, etc. Maybe all those things would be better with student leaders involved.Doug Franklin
The article, titled “4 Reasons Why You Should Reconsider How You Do Student Leadership”, can be found by clicking here. It will take about 3 minutes to read, and has solid content and ideas. Go check it out!
I’m less than a month away from a milestone in my life: my oldest daughter is getting ready to move into the youth ministry.
I don’t know if you’ve thought about the dynamic of being a parent/youth minister, but I have been contemplating it pretty heavily over the past month or two. Here are five wishes I have for my daughter (and for any kid who joins us) as she moves into the youth ministry:
Now, look back over that list. There are some of those that I, as her youth minister, can influence. That’s why leadership development is so important to me. I want students aware and pouring into other students. I want adults loving on students. I want to provide opportunities to serve, and to create an atmosphere where students are not simply entertained, but challenged.
But I can’t do it alone. You can’t do it alone. We can’t do it alone. Bring people into the leadership discussion in your life. Expand your influence and watch growth happen.
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Last week I got to spend time at camp with a group of six student leaders. For the last three summers, I have helped develop and grow what we call the Horizon Leadership Camp (HLC).
The concept is simple: when a church group comes to camp, they have the option to have a student or two apply for HLC. The student goes to camp with their own church group, is part of a leadership focused small group, help lead rec, and pour back into someone from their group–trying to grow relationships that will last well beyond camp.
In total, HLC has convened seven times over the past three summers, and I have been in the room for most of them (although not all). Along the way, there are a few things I’ve started to notice:
All in all, I have learned so much about myself over the past three summers (running concurrently with the beginning of this blog, if you hadn’t made the connection). Few things in ministry excite and energize me as much as being able to have authentic conversations with a student who is wrestling with their own understanding and ability to lead. In turn, my leadership influence grows as I challenge those around me to grow.
So, as I ask from time to time, Student ministers: what are you doing to train your student leaders? How are you equipping them? How are you pouring into them? What opportunities are you providing them? Where do you need to start?
When I was a 8th grader, my youth minister had a conversation with me that helped set me on a path for the duration of my high school career.
I went to a small school and a small town church, so there weren’t a plethora of students in our youth ministry. As an 8th grader, there were some strong seniors and a junior, but a gap between the junior and my class.
My youth minister sat me down and said the next year I was going to be one of the leaders, along with a couple of classmates.
And the invitation to leadership altered the next four years. It opened my eyes to opportunities all around me.
There’s someone around you who is waiting for an invitation to leadership. Maybe they haven’t been asked to step up. Maybe they haven’t seen the need to step up.
The invitation makes all the difference in the world. Who can you ask?
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