Leadership: Do You Have A Pyramid In Your Youth Ministry?

Do you have an effective way to invest in other leaders? Are your leaders investing in others too? Having an effective leadership ‘pyramid’ helps to ensure that we are investing in a small group of leaders who in turn, will invest in others.

In the last week I have finished up reading a practical book on small group ministry by Bill Donahue and Russ Robinson called The Seven Deadly Sins of Small Group MinistryEven though this book is not specifically aimed at youth workers, there is a great deal of practical advice and leadership wisdom that I gleaned from it. On the chapter focused on developing a small group coaching structure, I was reminded of leadership pyramids and the importance of being intentional with our leadership investment. Here are some insights I gleaned. 

Leadership development should be intentional and strategic. If you and I as leaders are at the top of the ‘leadership pyramid’, it’s imperative that we intentionally invest a great deal of our time in leaders who in turn invest in others. Who are the four to five leaders who need more of your time and investment on a regular basis? How are you strategic in making this happen? Is there a plan?

Leadership development happens as a process, not an event. I used to think that if I had enough youth leader meetings, sent out enough emails, and gave out enough books, I would be covered. Wrong! Developing leaders is a process that requires many meetings, and more specifically one to one meetings that happen over a long time. Yes, monthly youth team meetings get the ‘job’ done, but a process of one to one meetings help to create leaders who invest in others, (just as you are investing in them).

Leadership is about influence, not a position. It’s easy to think that people do what we say because we have a position. It’s easy to think this because it’s true. If you are ‘in charge’ people will often do as you request. However, as a leader, there is a great difference between people who do things when we ask, compared to people who truly follow our leadership. A positional leader gets the job done, but his people only do what is needed and nothing more. A leader who influences others accomplishes results through followers who will go the extra mile to see a vision accomplished.

Bottom Line: Leadership is influence, and influence comes when a leader cares well and invests in his or her people.

How we care for our leaders is how they care for others too. I talk about this quality a lot, but it’s worth saying it again. The way in which we invest in others will be the way that they invest in the people we have given to them to lead. It all starts at the top of the pyramid… If the leader at the top does not shepherd his leaders, they will not likely shepherd their people well either.

Bottom Line: What we model for our leaders, will likely be displayed in their leadership too. What are we modeling?

What are some great leadership principles you have been learning recently? What insights have you gleaned from non youth ministry books?

Phil <><


4 Responses to Leadership: Do You Have A Pyramid In Your Youth Ministry?

  1. LeaderTreks November 27, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    One of the leadership principles that continues to strike me is intentional communication. Some people are gifted with the determination to consistently communicate all things well, however, for most people this takes work and awareness to make sure that their followers are always informed and ready to move. A challenge for sure! Thanks for the great article!


  2. Phil Bell November 27, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

    Brandon, I agree. I just talked about this today in our staff team meeting. Trust is built quicker when a leader can consistently communicate. It seems to me that a constant lack of communication from a leader can breed frustration and, in some people fear.

    Phil <

  3. Aaron Helman November 28, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    Thanks for the questions Phil.

    The principle that I’m continuing to learn is the importance of clarity. So often, we speak in abstracts or throw around the church-worker lingo that’s lost on our volunteer leaders.

    They can’t go where we want them to unless we tell them EXACTLY where that is.

  4. Phil Bell November 29, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    Aaron, you’re welcome! You are right! Clarity is key! What is clear to us, is not always clear to volunteers. I like the principle Andy Stanley uses in regards to speaking that can be applied to communication with volunteers: “If it’s a mist in the pulpit, it’s a fog in the pews…”

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