I’m four months into a new church as the youth pastor. And I’ve already missed a youth activity. I don’t mean I missed it like forgetting to go. I mean I purposely skipped it to spend time with my family.
I started this position telling myself that I was going to do this very thing. We talk about in youth ministry the need to empower others to lead, disciple and serve. So my intention was always to raise up leaders (adults and teens) and then begin to skip activities and events. It is what my friend calls “creating holes” in order to allow leadership to emerge.
And here is what I’m learning this time around …
1. It is always hard to give over power to another person. No matter if you intend to or not, giving up power is a practice in humility and vulnerability. It requires you to come face-to-face with the reality that others can do what you do and probably better than you (because they are gifted and called to do it). It also pushes you to open yourself up and confess that you need others, which for me doesn’t come easily.
2. There is never a good time to start. I didn’t expect to be skipping a youth event this early. My timetable was a year. God’s time table was dramatically different. Yet, when you know that someone or some group is ready to lead, then you just have to create a hole and see what happens.
3. It allows your leaders to feel valued. When you skip out as the leader, you’re communicating trust to your co-leaders. That translates into value and reinforces a culture of respect for your team and eventually the whole youth group.
4. You need to be invested and interested in the activity. You can’t skip out on an insignificant event like cleaning up the youth room then expect that people will feel valued and empowered to lead. You need to give up something that is important to the mission of your youth ministry. It will make failing more costly and succeeding more rewarding.
5. Follow-up is key. Checking in after the activity shows support and communicates importance. At this point, evaluation is not important. Encouragement and listening is the goal. Reinforce the importance of the activity and the gifts/talents of the person or team who led the youth group in the activity.