Youth Ministry Leadership: Keys To Gaining Credibility

In my previous post I looked at the realities of trust and credibility for the youth worker. But how can we overcome mistrust and earn credibility as men and women called to serve students? Today’s post will explore this question and give some challenging thoughts to chew on.

In his book, Being Leaders, Aubrey Malphurs outlines a number of ways to cultivate credibility in our leadership. Here are a few that seem to be the most essential for youth workers:

1) Character: Without question, character is the foundation on which good Godly leadership should be built! As we discussed in the previous post, there are so many leaders who have all the skills and competencies, but their leadership potential is lost due to a character flaw. As a leader we should be constantly growing in our relationship with God and constantly examining our lives for cracks in our character. In Addition, it is imperative that we allow certain key mentors into our ‘inner world’ and allow them to ask tough questions on a regular basis. My mentor ‘Ron’ is someone who does this well for me. Who do you have?

2) Competence: People follow leaders who know what they are doing. Whether you are starting out in ministry, or have been in ministry for decades, it is essential that you constantly sharpen your skills and abilities as a leader.

Bottom line: Competence equals confidence. People will follow us when they gain confidence through our competence.

3) Clarity Of Vision: Malphurs calls this “clarity of direction.” If we are going to ask students to give up some of their teenage autonomy and follow us, we better have a clear vision for them. If we are going to ask volunteers to serve and go the extra mile for us, we better have a clear and compelling vision for them. If we are going to ask parents to trust us, our vision must be clear and answer their felt needs that they have for their kids.

Bottom line: If we want to become credible with our followers, we must ensure we are leading them clearly…

4) Communication: When we don’t communicate clearly and regularly people feel left in the dark. When people are left in the dark for too long, it’s easy to wonder if they should worry about what is truly going on. In youth ministry, no news is bad news… Therefore, building credibility means that we should over communicate to ensure that students, parents, volunteers, and our bosses are all in the loop. So many of us are running so fast that we forget to communicate the smallest of details. This is particularly dangerous when we fail to communicate to parents about deadlines, dates, and changes in schedules. You might have already discovered how quickly credibility is lost when a group of parents challenge you about a missed opportunity to communicate essential details.

So, Now What? So what do you do when you have messed up and lost credibility? What can you do when followers stop following you after a leadership failure? Do you leave and try out a ministry somewhere else? Sadly, that is what a lot of youth workers do. However, credibility can be earned back and trust can be restored. Tomorrow, we look at how to regain credibility after it has been lost.

For today, take time to tell share any keys to credibility that you have discovered? What would you add to this list? 

Phil <>< 

3 Responses to Youth Ministry Leadership: Keys To Gaining Credibility

  1. Tom Shriver September 12, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    I think you hit it right on the nose, Phil. I would throw in authenticity, too.

    If you’re not an authentic person, youth minister, and leader, then you won’t appear to be credible. Think of the Elvis impersonators and KISS cover bands out there – sure, they’re fun, but they’re not credible. If you’re going for authenticity make sure that you’re being you and you’re running your youth ministry the way that God has called you to – not the “big shot youth workers” (don’t be a youth ministry cover band)!

  2. Ryan Kleimola September 12, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

    I think consistency would be a good “c” to add to the list. Parents (and youth) will have an easier time trusting you when they know what to expect and see it regularly. Follow through is important as well. It’s easy to be young and pie in the sky dreamy eyed about everything when you’re starting out. When you follow through with what you plan to do, you gain credibility.

  3. Phil Bell September 12, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

    Tom and Ryan, yes, great additions! Authenticity and consistency in today’s world are key. And I agree Ryan, it’s easy to begin something, but not all leaders are good at seeing something through to completion… Good stuff gents!

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