How do we evaluate leadership? Let me begin by saying it is not by comparing ourselves to everything and everyone else. It is done by comparing ourself with ourself. Have I reached my potential? Have I done everything with everything that I have? The clearest analytic to determining success begins with self-analyzation.
We treat ourselves differently than we treat everyone else. Especially as it relates to our spiritual lives. The problem with that is simple. We allow thoughts, attitudes, and actions into our life that we would call detestable in another person's life.
It's time we put a lot more pressure on ourselves. Self Leadership is much more important than leading others. I think you would find it much easier to lead others if you led yourself well. With that in mind, here are 5 Dangerous Questions For A Youth Leader.
Answering these honestly can give us a feel for the kind of work we are doing. Seek the honest answers to these and then do something about correcting areas that you feel are neglected. Great leaders do regular assessment and evaluation.
1. Do you avoid asking about numbers?
Ah, the numbers game. We probably don't feel very comfortable talking about numbers and attendance if our numbers aren't strong. And we look jealously or angrily at others that might feel comfortable talking about numbers.
We have to unlearn some things. Now, we all agree that the people are more important than numbers. Right? But remember, the numbers represent people. Maybe we should be emphasizing numbers AND people more. As I heard Tommy Barnett (the long-time Pastor of Phoenix First) say, 'We count people because people count!'
Don't avoid asking or talking about numbers. If your heart is right, you are really asking about the people. Something we should all care more about.
2. When is the last time you cried for a teenager?
Notice I did not say, 'When is the last time you cried because of a teenager?' Teenagers can make you cry and pull your hair out and quit every week. But when we are in love with young people, we cry for them and not because of them.
Compassion and love were the greatest traits of Christ. One of my favorite moments in scripture happened when Jesus was overlooking the city of Jerusalem. He saw them as a people without a shepherd and began weeping over the city from the top of the mount. When I think about the teenagers of America and what they are dealing with today, I am broken weekly. I have the vantage point of talking with teens across the country and hearing story after difficult story.
Don't let a week go by without empathizing with teenagers. Stay connected to their world and speak with them often so that you can feel what they feel. So that you can cry when they cry and laugh when they laugh.
3. What is your response when presented with an opportunity to leave Youth Ministry for an Executive position, Church Planting, or Lead Pastor position?
I hear about this weekly from young leaders. Another position has come up and entices them to consider leaving Youth Leadership. More money, more authority, more recognition, and no more over-nighters and fund-raisers and taking junior high boys home after the Youth Service or an event.
My response is always the same. 'Why would you want to take a demotion?' Paramount to this discussion is the call of God. And if God called you to Youth Leadership, why would He change His mind and call you away? I truly believe that if we could help young Youth Leaders solve problems, stay spiritual, and learn the changing roles that we go through in Youth Leadership, we would not see so much transition. There is tremendous value from moving through the stages of influence in a teens life. As a Youth Leader you can move from their friend to their grandfather/Grandmother!
4. Are we producing fans who are living one way at Church and have another life outside of Church?
Here's the other question that relates to this one. Do you complain that students are not coming to the Youth Ministry while you are not going to their school?
Another lesson to unlearn. Do not define Youth Ministry by what happens at Church on Wednesday Funday. We have to understand that more miracles and stories happened in the Bible outside the Temple than inside the Temple. We have to balance our production and administation time IN THE OFFICE, with our people and relationship time OUTSIDE OF THE OFFICE. That means we care as much about content preparation for Wednesday night as we do about context participation the rest of the week.
Nothing will keep you younger and more relative to young people than being with them. This will create many avenues back to the Church and the Youth Service or events. Creating more neutral site events will create young people who live their Christianity outside the Temple. They are not coming to Church to pray. They are coming to Church praying. Because more is happening outside the Youth Service.
5. Are quality leaders leaving the Youth Team?
Have you grown in your spiritual and natural giftings? If you don't, you will lose gifted leaders. A healthy Youth Leader will attract healthy Youth Leaders.
The spiritual gifts are the disciplines such as prayer, fasting, reading, study, And worship. The natural gifts would include communication/preaching, relational skills, administration, and leadership development.
I've heard people say that no one rises to a level above their leader. I don't agree with that at all. Let me tell you who will rise above their leader. Another leader. Especially one who is more desperate and more hungry than the leader over them. If you are not attracting or retaining quality people, you are declining in your gifts and competencies.
Analytics. Self evaluation is vital to success. Good leadership happens with great assessment and measurement. Do a little mid-course correction right now. How do you feel about the work and the ministry you are doing? Evaluating our mission and our wins is fun. But, evaluating our mistakes and losses is painful.