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The Key to Longevity in Youth Ministry

I’m often asked about the theme “longevity in ministry.” Those who inquire want to know my “secret sauce.”

My answer is always the same: “Surround yourself with really talented people who will have your back.”

Longevity requires teamwork!

In my years of ministry, I’ve worked with incredible people! Most of these people are much more talented and gifted than I could ever dream to be.

Another way to say it … I’ve been surrounded by several “Abishai’s.” You may be thinking, “Huh? Doug, did you not take your meds today?”

Every leader needs an Abishai! Okay, I realize it’s not a very catchy name. It doesn’t flow off the tongue like other names, like Matt or Katie or Kurt or Josh or Jana. But, this real life person (who we read about in the Old Testament) was an important model for the type of people leaders need in their lives. And, perhaps more importantly, a model for who we can be in someone else’s life.

Abishai was a support to King David. I first became aware of him while reading 2 Samuel 21. In the New Living Translation, it reads, “David and his men were in the thick of the battle, David became weak and exhausted … He (Ishbi-benob) had cornered David and was about to kill him. But Abishai (son of Zeruiah) came to David’s rescue and killed the Philistine.”

Abashai was willing to do some dirty work, he was defensive for David, and his actions vividly displayed teamwork and loyalty. He was even loyal to the point of being willing to kill the sleeping Saul (see 1 Samuel 26:6-9). I love the phrase, “in the thick of the battle Abishai came to the rescue.”

As a leader, do you have someone who comes to your rescue? Do you have an Abishai in your life?

Another question might be, who do you rescue? Who looks to you as her/his Abishai?

Every good leader fully understands he/she is “better together.”

Question: What may need to change within your leadership to become more attractive as an Abishai? Share your thoughts here.