10 years ago today I walked into Church of the Nativity in Timonium, Maryland as the Middle School Youth Minister. Today I’m still at the same church and I oversee all youth ministry programs. I feel blessed to have last this long, but it hasn’t always been easy.
To last in youth ministry is not easy. To last the long haul you need the right systems and strategies. You need the right leadership and vision. While there are dozens of the things that I’ve learned the last 10 years there are 6 that stick out. I learned:
Should you have to work weekends to run a healthy youth ministry? YES. I didn’t always think that way because I didn’t want to think that way. I wanted to sleep in on Sundays. I wanted to watch football and hangout. That’s the problem it was about me.
For your youth ministry to be successful. For your parish to succeed it needs the youth minister there on the weekend. More specifically you need to be there when Mass or services are occurring.
If your family attends a separate parish you need to have the hard conversation about switching because believe it or not your presence matters. Why? Because it says so much and it affects your churches health. By working on the weekends you are able to:
“How could they mess this up?” I had sent my volunteers the link for the game, but none of them came prepared. There I was bailing them out once again. Then it dawned on me, “I don’t think I told them to do anything more than check the link out.”
It is frustrating when it feels like your volunteers are just not getting it. You think about all the reasons why they aren’t meeting expectations, when the reality the reason could be you. Before you blame your volunteers for being incompetent, complacent or disloyal, ask yourself whether or not you have:
I had five minutes to meet everyone at the beach with no clue how to get back. I had told people if I did not return after an hour to start considering looking for me.
It was my first time in Acadia National Park. I had been taken in by the scene a little too long. With no idea what path to take I finally found blue markers. I focused on the path and made my way back to family. In the end I was only five minutes late.
As leaders we are going to find ourselves out of our elements sometimes. My situation was not life and death; however, it did give me time to reflect on 3 leadership principles. Basically as a leader:
All I felt was disappointment. I had asked my student leaders to plan the game for that evening and it was all about them. Teens were disengaged and it was a disaster. That’s when I started to wonder whether student leadership groups were worth it.
The problem is that I had found great teenagers, just with the wrong qualities. They were outgoing, and well liked, but that was not enough. When looking for student leaders you need to make sure they have the right qualities.
That’s not to say only certain teens can lead. It’s that not everyone is ready to. They might lack: