The Most Life-Changing Skill Any Volunteer Can Cultivate
This iVolunteer resource is a COACHING RESOURCE for volunteer youth leaders who want to be the BEST they can be!
As I look back on more than four decades of youth ministry, I find that my most influential youth volunteers had one thing in common and that's what this iVolunteer, "The Most Life-Changing Skill Any Volunteer Can Cultivate," is all about. These leaders came from all different ages and backgrounds, but they shared one life-changing skill. They knew how to encourage others. It sounds simple enough, but for those of us who spend many hours with teenagers, it isn't always easy.
Listen...or watch...and I'll share some ideas that you can use to encourage even some of your most challenging students. "Three billion people go to bed hungry every single night; but four billion people go to bed hungry every night for a simple word of authentic encouragement. GO FEED SOME PEOPLE!"
Cheering you on,
When I started in youth ministry, I had about 20 kids in the youth group. My idea of success? A night together in youth service where Jesus showed up, kids laughed together and prayed together, and maybe even a new kid or so excitedly decided to give their life to Christ. I mean, back in 1970, that was my idea of a mind-blowing YOUTH MINISTRY SUCCESS.
It took only about three short months to start adding stuff to that original equation. Remember those 20 kids? Well, pretty soon, "real success" needed to include having about 30 kids show up! And somewhere through those opening, exciting months, something NEW to me was "born" in my life and head. It was small and almost a little "cuddly" at the beginning. Kind of like a friendly little "stuffed animal" from my past. But on closer examination, it wasn't that innocent and it sure wasn't that "cuddly." I had given birth to a small, not-too-scary-looking DRAGON.
So my prayerful goal for this message is to remind all of us that the "DRAGON OF SUCCESS" is maybe one of the most ferocious enemies ANY of us will ever face in our own minds...but we'll ALL face him...whether we're the "lead person" on the team, an amazing volunteer assistant, or just a career-orientated person who's just trying to get ahead on the job-site.
I'm LIVING, TRANSPARENT, VULNERABLE PROOF that THE DRAGON OF SUCCESS can hang around for a pretty long time. The point I'm trying to make is that probably all of us have VARIATIONS of this "Dragon" that Jesus and His love wants to slay – dragons that are fed by our insecurities, our fears, our needs for approval and acceptance.
As leaders, we can be decent motivators for the Kingdom, but too often rotten trainers. Sometimes it feels as if the local football and basketball coaches do a better job at training, encouraging and aligning our students than we do in youth ministry. This Youth Leader's Coach is dedicated to changing that...to taking student leadership teams to the next level.
My heartbeat is for us to become exceptionally intentional at helping our students become better "owners" than "renters" of our ministries through modeling, motivating and mobilizing them in their leadership development and decision-making.
What a privilege we have been given, to participate in the character formation of Christ-honoring leaders. Let's take advantage of the opportunity that lies before us!
For the final evening, I wanted to take you on an imaginary trip. But though our trip is imaginary, I want to help you envision something that's REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN. A place that the Word of God tells us most all of us will personally experience.
This place I'm taking us in our imagination tonight…it's the place the Holy Spirit often brings to MY mind when I get tired, when I find myself fighting discouragement or when I need to remind myself of the WORTH of this spiritual journey I've enlisted myself in. It's also where I go in my head when I see other Christians who seem pretty disengaged...sometimes even pretty flakey. I mean, lots of great folks don't seem to play by some of the same spiritual ballgame rules Jesus seems to ask of me.
At moments like that, Jesus reminds me of this place. No, it's not the Great White Throne of Judgment. Instead, the place I want to take you in this NYLC15 resource is THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST. It's the SECOND eternal judgment in Heaven...the one only CHRISTIANS will take part in. But I rarely hear anyone talk about it. So let's make a run at it, our final night at NYLC 2015...an imaginary glimpse at YOUR coming moment before The Judgment Seat of Christ. WELCOME, MY FRIENDS, TO YOUR "FINAL ANTHEM."
In this Youth Leader's Coach I am hitting on the number one defining characteristic of a youth ministry that makes deep impact in students' lives. This is the characteristic of "David-Jonathan Youth Ministry." People ask me all the time for the "how-tos" of running a successful youth ministry. But the bottom line of youth ministry, far beyond the "how-tos," is what I'm sharing with you today. Relational discipleship takes the hard work and creative ideas in your youth ministry to a whole new level. Without it, youth ministry really can become hollow.
Let me share three prayers taken from the story of David and Jonathan that have set the focus of my own youth ministry. This focus is not on all the bells and whistles, though they are cool and often essential, but rather on building relational bridges to the hearts of the students that we then simply let Jesus walk across. I often like to say "inch by inch youth ministry's a cinch; yard by yard youth ministry's hard." Together we will take one inch at a time towards a youth ministry defined by the spirit of David and Jonathan.
Doing youth ministry one inch at a time,
In this Youth Leader's Coach I hit on a topic that, quite frankly, I do not see a lot of us being very good at, yet this is such an essential key in youth ministry! We're talking about "The Power To Bring The Best Out In People."
The implications of being able to encourage people to be all they can, are seen in every relationship - from your teenagers and leaders to your friendships and family. Authentic, genuine encouragement and affirmation has the great power to draw the best out in people! Let me dialogue with you about this vital ability we all need to keep developing in our lives. This is going to be a good one!
Affirming the best in you,
It's been said that "The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire." How true. And in youth ministry, we need to help ignite that process almost every day. Have you ever wondered how certain leaders seem to pull the best out in those around them? They seem to know how to generate the extra effort from those they lead whether it's the students in the youth group itself or the volunteer leaders.
That topic is what this valuable Youth Leader's Coach is all about. I've entitled it, "Bringing Out The Best In People." And because it is such a crucial topic, I have made this a two-part coaching communication. John Gardner once said that "The best-kept secret in America today is that people would rather work hard for something they believe in than enjoy a pampered idleness." I think that quote is especially true when it comes to youth ministry. So grab a cup of coffee and let's have some fun talking about this really vital aspect of ministry.
Rarely in our Youth Leader's Coach family do I give you a two-part coaching communication. But this Youth Leader's Coach, "Bringing Out The Best In People - Part 2," represents a topic that is so crucial that I wanted to spend more time with you on it.
You'll hear me deal with simple keys that will truly be the "make it or break it" within the relational life of both your youth ministry and your leadership team. So enjoy our moments together and know that in reality, "People are failures, not because they are stupid, but because they are not sufficiently impassioned."
Still committed to "Frog-Kissing,"
Most everyone in youth ministry will enjoy and benefit from this mentoring time. Most of us do at least a portion of our daily leadership from the "Number 2 Chair." So this Youth Leader's Coach, "Building Great Assistant Youth Leaders," is focused in two directions. First, I want to help you as the primary youth leader to understand some of the struggles and mind games that "assistant youth leaders" (whatever you might call them) face on a daily basis.
But secondly, I want this Youth Leader's Coach to be something that you can reproduce to give to your volunteer youth leaders. I truly believe that it will make them better leaders for you and help to multiply their loyalty and effectiveness. So "happy duplicating" on this one. I pray that our time together translates to a more fulfilling ministry for you as well as those around you.
Cheering for the "Number 2 Chair,"
Maybe you saw it on TV too. It was an interview with a surviving mountain-climbing guide. He was guiding amateur climbers to the peak of Mount Everest and in one of those climbs, two of his fellow guides lost their lives. The interview gave powerful insights into how we can help others "go to the next level" in their climb up the Mountain of God.
"Helping Others Go To Higher Ground" weaves together principles from the Word, from life, and from this interview. The focus of our time together in this Youth Leader's Coach answers one of youth ministry's greatest questions: "How do I help motivate the teenagers in my youth ministry and my leaders to pursue continued spiritual and personal growth?" The guide's answer to one of the interviewer's closing questions makes the whole Youth Leader's Coach worth the listening to. The interviewer asked, "After seeing so vividly the dangers of leading a group of amateur climbers, I can't understand why you keep doing this." The guide paused and then said, "Obviously, you haven't been to the top."
Still trying to lead others toward "The Top,"
I bet you'll listen to this Youth Leader's Coach pretty quickly! It's entitled, "Helping Your Teenagers Walk In Sexual Purity." And trust me, it's one of the biggest battlegrounds you'll ever have to coach your kids through. Unfortunately, in the church world, we often preach fired up messages about the importance of sexual purity without carefully laying out a game plan that helps them to move in that direction.
So grab a cup of coffee and come hang out with me for an hour or so. You'll be glad you did. After all, how many people have discussed this topic with you recently? Happy coaching!