There are two kinds of leaders. The kind you have to follow and the kind you want to follow. What kind of youth leader are you? And what kind of adult and students leaders are you building in your youth ministry program?
It’s critical that you invest in your leadership team and help them grow into the kind of leaders that others want to follow. Both for the sake of your current youth group dynamics, but also with an eye for the life-long impact your leaders can have down the road, both inside the church and beyond it in the culture at large.
Taking Your Leadership Team to the Next Level
If you recently joined us for Dare 2 Share’s Reverse Tour, during your sleep-deprived Saturday morning fog, you likely heard me speak on “Lead Differently: Leadership the Daniel Way.” But whether you were at Reverse or not, I believe every youth leader can benefit from taking a closer look at the leadership principles I’m going to be unpacking across the next several issues of energize.
Apply these principles to your own life and ministry, but ALSO cultivate them in your adult and student leaders. These coming summer months provide a great, strategic time to build into your leadership team, so that you will all be on the same page when it’s time to launch and lead a dynamic new ministry year next fall.
Tyrant on the Loose
When you read the first six chapters of the book of Daniel with leadership eyes, you see two leadership styles on full display. King Nebuchadnezzar was the leader that you had to follow, literally. If you didn’t your head would end up on a stake. He was a world-conquering leader who ruled by force. (This was the guy who forced King Zedekiah to watch his sons be killed, and then blinded him immediately afterward, so that this horrifying image would be the last thing he’d ever see (2 Kings 25:5-7).
Now chances are you’ve never blinded a rebellious kid in your youth group or put his head on a stake—but you may have been tempted. Still, there are tyrannical Nebuchadnezzar power plays we can make as leaders to get our way. We can rule by just as much force, but it comes in the form of manipulation and mind games, rather than murder and mayhem.
Daniel’s 4 Keys to Success
Daniel, on the other hand, wasn’t loud, pushy, manipulative or demanding. He went from being a young Hebrew captive to occupying one of the most powerful positions in the land at a very young age. What was it about Daniel that took him so far, so fast? I believe there are four characteristics that made him a great leader. And these same four characteristics can make you and your team great leaders too.
- Conviction – WHY you do what you do
- Character – WHO you are when nobody is looking
- Competence – HOW well you do what you do
- Courage – WHAT you are willing to risk for victory
Why Do You Do What You Do?
We’ll unpack conviction today, and tackle the rest in coming energize issues.
As Christians, I believe we can boil down our convictions for life and ministry down to one simple phrase: “Ad maiorem Dei gloriam inque hominum salute.” This Latin phrase from St. Ignatius translates: “For the greater glory of God and salvation of humanity.”
Our convictions should be birthed out of a deep desire to bring God maximum glory and to see people fully transformed by the power of the gospel. But sometimes our convictions get hijacked. We become self-motivated, rather than kingdom-motivated. We’re looking for an ego boost, or a paycheck or whatever.
Exposing Your Shadow Mission
The Bible cautions in 1 Corinthians 4:5, “…wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.” So it’s important that we honestly evaluate our convictions and ask ourselves why we do what we do. The same is true for our leadership team; we must help them serve in ministry out of God-honoring convictions, not personal agendas.
John Ortberg has nicknamed that wrong motive that can lurk in the darkest parts of our hearts as our “shadow mission.” How can you and your team overcome your own personal shadow mission? Here are three steps:
- Name it. What’s your shadow mission? Take some time this week, examine your heart and honestly answer this question.
- Share it. Meet with a trusted friend or mentor to talk about your struggle. Ask them to pray for you and hold you accountable.
- Fight it. Lean on the presence and power of Christ as you strive to keep your motives pure and pleasing to the Lord.
A Motives Test: The Mirror and the Window
As I close, I want to leave with you with a simple strategy you can use to gauge your own motives: the Mirror and the Window.
The Daniel Way: When things go well, good leaders look out the window and give God glory (Daniel 2:27-28). When things go poorly, they look in the mirror and step up to take the blame.
The Nebuchadnezzar Way: When things go well, bad leaders, look in the mirror and take glory for themselves (Daniel 4:29-30). When things go poorly, they look out the window and blame others.
Think about it.