I love seeing search terms like this pop up in my stats: tips for being a good Christian youth leader. It means that someplace, somewhere, someone is doing their very best to grow in their role as a youth leader and that makes me so happy. So I’m going to try and help you take your leadership to the next level with these tips for being a good youth leader.
One of the things you should invest time in each week to grow as a youth leader is reading. The old adagio ‘leaders are readers’ is really true! Here are a few things you should ‘feed’ yourself with:
- Books on (Christian) leadership: there’s hundreds of them coming out each year. You don’t need to read them all, but find some authors you like and that feed you.
- Books and up to date info on youth culture: youth culture is changing so fast that it’s important to stay on top of this. Two of my favorite sites for this are the Youth Culture Report and Jonathan McKee’s blog.
- Books on youth psychology and development: one of the hot issues at the moment is extended adolescence for instance – it will really pay off to stay current on topics like this.
- Blogs from youth leaders and youth ministry organizations: I follow about 50 youth ministry related blogs and I’m learning tons like this every day.
At first, youth ministry may be quite simple to a new youth leader. But it’s my experience that in time, you tend to lose sight of what really matters. If you want to become a better youth leader, then spend more time with young people. Ultimately, you need to relate to them, connect with them to be effective as a youth leader. Make this a priority (and do it from a humble Jesus-centered heart) and everything else will follow.
In the same way, relating well to your youth pastor and the other volunteers matters. Invest in friendships and team spirit. Try to serve your youth pastor and pastor where ever and whenever you can. Unity in the leadership will always bear fruit in the youth ministry itself.
I used to work as a manager on the surgical department in a big hospital, but that job was nowhere near as stressful as being a youth leader. There’s a lot of stress involved in being in youth ministry, whether you’re a volunteer trying to balance work, family and youth ministry, or on staff, balancing ministry and family. If you want to become a better youth leader, you’ll need to learn how to relax:
- Schedule a day off, a Sabbath each week and don’t compromise
- Learn what fills your tank and keep topping it of, so you don’t try to lead on empty
- Always, always put your family before your ministry unless it’s a real emergency (and when I say emergency I’m talking about the life and death kind, not the ‘my-boyfriend-broke-up-with-me-and-I-need-someone-to-talk-to’ type)
- Don’t take on more work than you can handle and learn to say no to stuff you shouldn’t do
- Have your priorities very clear, even in youth ministry. Work from your strengths and delegate as much as you can.
If you do these three things, if your read, relate and relax, I guarantee you that you will grow as a youth leader. But there’s one more thing: your own relationship with God. Don’t ever forget that you cannot share what you haven’t got, so you need to feed yourself with God’s Word above all else. If your relationship with God suffers from your youth ministry, you’ve got to change your priorities. He should always be the most important thing in your life, so make spending time with Him your very first priority…
What other tips would you add to someone asking for advice on how to grow as a youth leader?