Youth Ministry Leadership: Understanding The Credibility Issue

Being a leader in your church and youth ministry only happens if you have followers. The problem for many of us is that not everyone wants to follow leaders these days… In Being Leaders by Aubrey Malphurs, he quotes Kouzes and Posner’s first law of leadership:
“If you don’t believe the messenger, you won’t believe the message.”
So, in youth ministry, how can we be effective leaders who will attract and keep followers? In the next few days I will be exploring some of Malphurs ideas as we dig into that question. Specifically, we will focus on a key ingredient of leadership: Credibility.
First, it’s important to understand the factors that influence and affect our credibility as leaders: 
1) Understand Your Followers Lack Of Trust: It can be very frustrating when people choose not to follow us, but it’s imperative to understand what has led them to this place. They did not just decide overnight that they did not want to follow you. Let’s face it, we live in a world full of fallen leaders and broken promises.

We must accept that behind a lack of trust there is a story of leadership failure.

2) Credibility Will Take Time: Malphurs insists that it can take five years for a pastor to establish trust and credibility if all things are going well! Too many of us get easily frustrated at the lack of trust from students, parents, pastors, and leaders in the church. However, to expect people to trust us quickly is short-sighted and naive. Given the rate of turnover of youth workers is it any wonder that people are reserved in giving us their trust. If you and I choose to hang in for the long haul, we should expect to see trust be built.

3) Your Age Will Be A Factor: I hate even to write about this one… I wish I could say that people see us all the same in ministry, but that is simply not true. If you are a younger youth worker, the hard reality is that older folks will see you in a certain light and it cannot always be avoided. However, if we choose to ‘kick and scream’ over the injustice of being looked down on, it will only support their presuppositions about us… In a similar way, if we are ‘older’ in ministry, some will see that as a good thing, while others will struggle with our age…

4) Certain Generations Will Trust Quicker: He’s a quick overview from Malphurs in the way the generations trust.

  • Builders (Born before 1946) – Have the highest trust factor.
  • Boomers (Born between 1946 – 1964) – Grew up just when trust was eroding.
  • Busters (Born between between 1964 – 1983) – Extreme pessimists and lack trust. (This is my generation).
  • Bridgers (Born after 1983) – More optimistic and trusting just like the builders.

5) Know That Credibility Can Be Earned: Despite the barriers of credibility and trust-building within our churches, it’s good to know that God can use us to gain the confidence of the people we lead. Ultimately, we need to realize that cannot win over everyone, but we can lead people well when we choose to take pertinent steps to gain credibility. That part is up us!

In my next two posts I will look at ways in which we can gain credibility and lead with greater effectiveness in our ministries.

For now, what are some of the issues you have faced in gaining credibility? What would you add to this list?

 
Phil <><

2 Responses to Youth Ministry Leadership: Understanding The Credibility Issue

  1. Karl D Peterson September 11, 2012 at 9:00 am #

    Super great thoughts Phil. We are going through Andy Stanley’s trust vs. suspicion. We fill those trust gaps with something. Thanks for expanding our view on leadership.

  2. Phil Bell September 11, 2012 at 9:33 am #

    Karl, that sounds like a great book! I have not read it yet! Let me know if you would like to do a short review as a guest post sometime if you think the book would be of value to other youth workers?

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