A few weeks ago I read this article (and video above), about Andrew Henderson who is a ‘World Freestyle Soccer Champion.’ The article caught my eye for two reasons: First, I am British and of course I love soccer. Second, because this young guy had made a significant choice that led to his great success. Here’s what the article said:
“The 22-year old from England started doing freestyle tricks at the age of 15, and when it came time for Henderson to pick between university football and freestyle, he chose what he does best. Henderson now practices five hours per day, five days a week, and quite clearly all the hard work is paying off.”
And here’s the bottom line for him: This guy could have done two things with his giftedness. Rather than go the route that many others were attempting to go, he chose to do what he does best. In other words, he chose to focus on his strengths and greatest gifts. In youth ministry, there are a couple of lessons we can learn from his example…
1. Discover Your Strengths And Focus On Them. Every youth worker is different and every one of us has different gifts. We’re not all guitar playing, game leading, message giving people are we? It’s so easy to play the comparison game in ministry and feel like we don’t have all the ‘tools’ in the bag to be effective. However, the most effective leaders are the ones who have discovered their strengths, developed them further, and allowed them to determine their outcomes. For more on this you should read a great book by Marcus Buckingham called Now, Discover Your Strengths.
2. Manage Around Your Weaknesses. Another principle from Buckingham’s book is the idea of managing around our weaknesses. Rather than exerting all of our time to improve in areas of weakness, Buckingham asserts that we should find resources and people that can allow us to improve and manage around areas of weakness.
- If you are not good at administration, (I know many of us are not), recruit a parent volunteer who can help, or buy useful applications to help you.
- If you are not good at leading worship, recruit a volunteer to lead and build a worship team.
- If you are not strong at giving messages (you’ll be surprised how many great youth workers are not), recruit and train volunteers to help.
There are many more, but you get the idea. Recruiting people and gaining resources is key. Rather than expending lots of time, energy and anxiety on our weaknesses, we can be more effective by managing around them.
3. Choose Between Good and Great. Over time, if we practice discovering our strengths and managing around our weaknesses, we will find ourselves finding success and bearing ministry fruit. Therefore, it’s imperative we naturally and normally allow our strengths to rise to the surface. In fact, like Andrew Henderson, we have a choice… We might have to choose between focusing on our greatest strengths and our good strengths…
Let me be clear here. It does not mean than we do not say ‘yes’ to certain obligations, commitments, or needs in our ministries. It is more about how we will choose between what strengths we DEVELOP and WORK AT.
For example, if you are good at speaking but you are weak at leading games, it’s imperative that you continue to put time and resources into your speaking. It doesn’t mean you neglect your obligation to lead games, it simply means you might recruit someone to help you in that area, or get yourself to an acceptable level.
You might disagree with me on this and that is fine. I just know it is hard to be a jack of all trades and a master of none in youth ministry…
What are your thoughts?