youth ministry essentials: where's the bar for your adult leadership team?
In my 11 years of student ministry, I've discovered a seemingly universal truth about my adult leadership team: They consistently meet whatever expectations I put out for them, provided three crucial elements are present.
Here are the three ways I set a high bar for my leaders:
I communicate a clear, concise, and high set of standards.
I ask our leadership team to commit to one year of leadership. This gives them and me an "out" if they're just not a good fit for student ministry. Help your leadership team know that it's not somehow shameful or disappointing if after a year of service, ample growth opportunities, and clear training and counsel, their gifting simply isn't working with students. Celebrate the year they served, and help them find another area in your church in which to serve. Part of that one-year commitment is to sign our Leadership Covenant. (You can view our covenant here.) Hold the bar high when you set your covenant expectations. Your students deserve it.
I consistently provide opportunities for training and encouragement to my team.
It's almost cruel to place a set of high standards in front of your adult leadership team and then not offer them every opportunity you can give them to reach those standards. Your goal is to make every man and woman on your team as good as you are at ministering to students. Ignore the little voice in your head that says you need to be the savior of your ministry that all students seek out for counsel and help. Multiply your influence by equipping the saints for the work of the ministry (Eph 4).
I demand from myself AT LEAST the standards I set forth for my team.
Your leaders will smell a rat really quick if you're somehow making up for what you lack by hoping those around you will rise to the challenge. Be the first to set the example in every area of your leadership covenant. Print it out and keep it somewhere that you will see it often. Someone much smarter than I once said that leadership is caught as much as it is taught. The question I constantly ask myself is this: "If my leaders spent 24 hours per day with me, what would they catch?"
Stay humble, admit your mistakes, ask to be held accountable as you hold others accountable, and see if your leadership team doesn't become a family who will lock arms side by side with you for the good of your students.