How often do we overlook the potential of young people?
Do you know what I mean?
It can be easy to choose the loudest, most popular, or even the ones with the most biblical responses in small group. Yet, if we make this mistake and only go with these types of young people as student leaders, you may miss out on some of the most gifted young people in your ministry.
After over 35 years in ministry, I am currently a volunteer youth minister for a new church start. We have existed for under two years, have around 12 youth, and had our second retreat recently. Three students, two eighth graders, and one seventh grader led the entire programming for the retreat. Did the retreat they led go perfectly? Let’s just say that I’ve learned that perfect is a matter of heart.
I have to ask myself, am I willing to equip them to lead their way or am I so prideful that I believe there is only my way?
Are you making these mistakes when seeing potential in student leaders?
Mistake We Make #1: Only seeing the obvious ones.
One of the three students in my leadership team, an eighth grader, is an apparent leader. She is the pastor’s daughter and responds readily during Bible study. She is insightful, volunteers to read Scripture, and shares her ideas and dreams for the ministry with me. Many of us would choose her right away to serve as a leader in ministry.
You may have these types of people in your ministry. In fact, you’ve probably already had a few names and faces come to mind.
Mistake We Make #2: Overlooking the not-so-obvious ones.
Thinking about my team, the other two students could easily have been overlooked as unlikely leaders. They tend to be quiet, shy in new situations, and do not volunteer unless called upon. Often these two will sit in the corner so they will not be misconstrued as needing attention. They might be called introverts. What if we make mistakes and don’t see these types of teens as student leaders?
I could have easily overlooked these two. But the Spirit urged me to invite them to lead. God pointed out to me in each of these three youth an ability, a willingness, and a commitment to lead. The truth is that the obvious and the not-so-obvious ones can and should lead.
Mistake We Make #3: Holding onto control.
Going into this, did I have doubts? Of course!
It is never easy to hand over control. But before this retreat, I spent time teaching and training them. And through this, these three students have inspired the new sixth graders. We already have sixth graders making statements like, “when I lead next year.”
Having young people as leaders in your youth or children’s ministry means we must first be willing to look at the obvious and the not-as-obvious young people. Who is the person or people that you may be overlooking?
In the meantime, pray for your future student leaders’ connection to the Spirit. Pray that the Lord will use you and your team to equip and support them. Pray that the Holy Spirit will help you to trust God!
Kathy Rexroad is the Core Competencies Assessment Manager and Content Specialist as well as a coach for the Youth Ministry Institute. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in 1975 from West Virginia University. While serving as volunteer nursery coordinator at an Orlando area church, Kathy felt God’s call into a life of ministry. While serving for over 25 years at that church, she “grew up” with the children she served and became their youth minister. In December 2010, Kathy retired from paid local church ministry, and resides in Georgia where she can enjoy her 4 grandchildren.