How to be Taken Seriously as a Leader

Being a youth worker is not always the glamorous ministry position. There are times when some of us have experienced the feeling of not being taken seriously by pastors, parents, and church members. When I first set out in student ministry I desired to be taken seriously and accepted as a viable member of a church staff. I longed to be seen as leader who, (even though I was young), had wisdom and could be trusted by the adults, (or shall we say, the more ‘senior’ people in my life). The fact is, when we are young (or in a new position) in leadership, often it can feel like hard work to gain acceptance as a legitimate leader in ministry.

So what are we to do with this reality?

1) Realize that this is path of the course. You’re not alone. All of us at some point have to earn our stripes. One day the time will come when they say you have the leadership, but the kids think you are old… Enjoy this season if you are still in it…

2) Leadership is about trust… Trust takes time: No matter where I have been, or how old I am, I realise that people need to know and trust me before they can be led by me. I have been at my current church for just over a year now. In my first year I committed to not making any major changes (unless emergencies), until a year had passed. This went a long way with youth leaders, students and parents. Whether you are seasoned youth worker or not, people will follow when they trust you… it takes time…

3) Avoid using “when I” statements: I have been guilty of justifying my decisions by talking about my track record from the past. When I was younger I would often refer to accomplishments I had made in my short experience as a way to gain acceptance of an idea. Now that I look back, I realise that it only came across as insecure and showed my lack of experience. Note: I think it is perfectly fine to talk about ideas that have worked in the past, but when it is gain greater leadership acceptance and  fill the hole of inexperience, the truth will likely be seen by others…

4) It really does take time: I can’t say it enough… If we want people to follow, realize that greater leadership and experience must run it’s course. Relax, take it easy, enjoy your ministry and enjoy growing…

5) Have such integrity that people will believe what you say… From the words of Wiersbe, ensure that people see your ingretity. I have found that even while people will point out leadership flaws in my ministry, they are still willing to go on a journey with me when they know they can trust my integrity…

A Leadership Achilles Heel for Steve Jobs?

Steve Jobs is the man everyone is talking about in recent days, months and years. He is the icon and leader behind Apple, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. He is the leader who represents the future and the leader who inspires the present… But is there an achilles heel to his leadership?

Now, let me be clear, I don’t claim to have the answer to that question. I am just asking the question… I don’t work alongside him, I don’t work for him and  I don’t know him personally. It’s obvious that his impact on the world through his leadership of Apple has left and is leaving an incredible mark on technology and how live in our world today.

THE REACTION: With all this said, it has been interesting watching the reaction to his recent medical leave. Within hours of his email going out to his staff on Monday the news channels around the world were filled with stories and theories about his medical leave. Many were asking whether Apple would continue to function as well without his hands-on leadership.

THE ACHILLES HEEL? So, where is the Achilles heel in all of this? Has Steve Jobs allowed others to depend on him so fully that they cannot function without him? Has he led without bringing others into leadership (and the spotlight), to allow them to continue what he has begun? Has he created a leadership vacuum by leading well in the short term, yet lesser leaders have not been given opportunity to lead in the future? If Steve Jobs was to leave indefinitely, or die at some stage, would Apple continue in the same way or would we see the company collapse?

These are all questions I do not have answers to and it is unfair for me to answer since I am not on the inside track with Apple. Therefore, instead of looking to Steve Jobs and the press and media perceptions of the situation, we should instead, look to ourselves…

OUR LEADERSHIP ACHILLES HEEL? Do others depend on us so fully that they cannot function without us? Are we in the spotlight of student ministry so much, that other leaders are not getting opportunities to learn, lead and grow? Are we doing such a great job in the short term that we are creating a leadership vacuum for the long-term? If we were to leave our ministry, would there be a huge void, or would leaders be equipped to step up and lead effectively?

JESUS CENTERED LEADERSHIP: Perhaps the biggest question we should be asking is this: Do students look up to us more than they do Jesus? Is our personality and leadership overshadowing our Savior? (This is a painful question to answer sometimes)…

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I don’t claim to know whether or not Steve Jobs is leading well for the long-term, only time will tell. In the meantime, it’s imperative that we take a good look in the mirror to ensure that our ministry is not just about us, it’s about Jesus and leading others to effectively do ministry when we are not there… How are you intentionally equipping others for ministry? How are you creating a Jesus centered ministry with an ongoing legacy of leadership?

Phil <><

Midweek Series “Slice of Life”

SLICE OF LIFE: This Week we kick off a new video series called, “Slice of Life” where we interview students from our ministry. This series has been created for a number of good reasons:

CREATED BY STUDENTS: Students themselves came up with the idea to have a series focused on their “slice of life” and how God is working in their lives.

OWNERSHIP: Anytime students are excited about an idea or series, it’s important to help channel their excitement into somethig that will impact other students. When I can get out of the way and help students to minister, I often see greater fruit…

BUILD COMMUNITY: One of the premises to this series is the idea that we have students from different backgrounds sharing their faithwalk. In our ministry we have about 6 different high schools represented, (plus home school students too). It’s important that this group of students get to hear stories from students from different places and situations. In the long-term, students feel like they are getting to know each other better… Long-term, it builds community.

VIDEO MESSAGES: We try to shoot the students on video. This helps if students get “stuck” or lost for words. Editing is a beautiful thing. In addition, it helps to present another mode of learning for them.

CONTACT TIME: I find these kind of message series where we interview students is incredible for greater opportunities for contact time… It’s amazing to see to the insights and thoughts that students share when you place a video camera in front of them… After the interview, I find some brilliant opportunities to talk, catch up, and hear more about what is happening in their lives…

PREP TIME: Perhaps the least important, but helpful thing with this series is this: The prep time is less that a usual week and it allows me to prepare for upcoming messages and have greater time to meet with students and leaders during the week…

That’s all for now. How are you creating opportunities for students to share their “Slice of Life”?

Phil <><

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