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Tag Archives | tough conversations

Learnings From A New Leader (Part 2)

Earlier in the week I started writing about some learnings I have been reflecting on a first real season of leading in a position in which I was leading others in a significant way (You can read it HERE). I have been trying to look back on the season and reflect on some things that have stood out to me so I can be a better leader overall. There were too many for one post so I wanted to continue it on this one.

Here are some more things I have learned being a new leader of a new ministry:

There are tough conversations in leadership.

  • I couldn’t believe it. Not everyone liked or approved the decisions I made (joking). There were times in which I made a decision in which I thought was the correct way to go, still do, but others where not so convinced. I have had some of the most difficult conversations I have ever had in the last few weeks. I know for what I was doing these were the correct decisions but being willing to defend those decisions to staff or parents was part of the decision. Overall, things ended up great but leadership comes with tough conversations that as a leader we need to be willing to have.

You need to be the first to leap.

  • I like collaboration. that is how I work best. Let’s throw everything up on the white board, the best ideas up there and let’s go from there. But I learned deciding on which direction to go is all on you, otherwise it’s like asking that friend who doesn’t know how to make a decision on where to eat. Once all the ideas were up, I needed to be the one to say, “Okay, this one, this one, and this one let’s go.” I tend to think bigger than what we actually can do. I like WOW. I like to think of it as that if God doesn’t show up in this then I’m going to look like a complete idiot. We need to lead the way in leaping. Leaders are leapers.

You need to be more hopeful than everyone else.

  • Sort of tying in to the last point, we need to be the most hopeful out of everyone. Yes, whatever God has laid on your heart with the direction to go, we need to go that way. Is there a sense of doubt sometimes? Absolutely. But I think there is some sort of health to that. If I feel God has led to this point, I am going to be the most hopeful person in Him coming through and working through it and it will blow my mind. As a leader, I need to do a better job as conveying that to the team I am leading. This year we launched a new curriculum for our high school that we wrote in-house. I truly believe it has the potential for life change as leaders go through it. I have tremendous hope for it and I hope when talking to our leaders about it they do too.

Plans change, so roll with it.

  • I tend to be the person who gets down when things don’t work out exactly like the way I saw it in my head. What I had to learn in this last season is that things change and a good leader adjusts accordingly. Want something to be run into the ground? Hold on to it tightly. I learned that some things can’t/won’t happen a certain way so how you respond to the switch will make it better or make it worse.

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Stop, Drop and Roll Conversations

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So I do not know about you, but there are sometimes some pretty rough situations that student’s in our ministries are going through. There are tough conversations being had all of the time. God is working on student’s hearts and they are wondering and working through some pretty intense things and they want us to talk to them about it. That is awesome!

But it can be scary. What if I don’t know what to say? Or do? Or know of what the Bible says about it? How do you put out this fire? Hopefully this can help a bit:

 Stop - When a student is going through something it is in our nature to want to fix it immediately. It’s the caring, nurturing side of us I think. Just stop, think and pray. Sometimes it is okay to pray with them and tell them, “Hey, I’m going to look this up and get back to you.” Or, “I’m not really sure, I would love to keep praying about that.” Let’s not give a half answer for the convenience of a “right away feel good” answer. Stop, think, pray and let’s make sure we give them a prayerful, biblical answer to help them in their time of need.

Drop - There are sometimes in ministry where the student is heated and obviously shaken up about a situation in their life and we try to let them talk about it with us but they do not want to. That’s just where we need to drop it and give it time. Right now might not be the best time for them, but from I noticed in the past, when they are ready and you make it obvious to them that you would love to talk with them, they come around and open up to you and then the Holy Spirit will guide you in that conversation.

Roll - You roll with it. They open up to you and words are rolling off their tongue. Go with it. Listen intently. Be a great listener. Don’t be distracted. Give them your full focus. Listen while praying, praying that the Holy Spirit will guide you in the right things to say to counsel the student who is finally having a break through. Avoid saying things like, “I know how you are feeling” unless you actually have been through what they are going through. Just stop, listen and celebrate that student is finally getting something off their chest and taking a step closer to Jesus.

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Nothing Else Like Student Ministry

photoThere is no other ministry job like being in student ministry.

Granted I have never worked with kids ministry. I have never worked with adult ministry. But I have friends that do and we have some great conversations about life and ministry and what that looks like on a day-to-day basis. For the most part (and I understand there are exceptions to this) student ministry has more way, way ups and way, way downs.

Let me explain.

In student ministry can you go to camp, you can get all geeked out in the team colors you have been assigned. You can lead stupid cheers and chants. You can run around a be a huge kid and just have a blast with your students. When you are all in and not too cool, your students will be all in not being “too cool”. Last week at camp I did just that. I was ridiculous as you can see from the picture above. I can be a huge kid and have so much fun with our students.

Then, in a blink of an eye, a conversation turns and I am sitting there in my ridiculous get up and having such a real, gut-wrenching, honest conversation with a student because they do not feel adequate enough to live and they do not see their purpose in life and then talk with them and counsel them through what that looks like and then pray for them.

Student ministry is full of those conversations. Two extremes can come crashing in an instant and we have to wear both hats and wear them well. That’s what it’s all about. It is being there with students when they are all in for fun and games and it’s showing students you are all in when it comes to their spiritual journeys, hard questions, real life struggles that we want to help them walk through in their lives.

It’s the best. Some people freeze when they don’t get that. But those who are passionate about students and seeing God work in their lives do.

We really do have the best job in the world. Praying for you all today.

Maybe send an encouraging email or text to fellow youth pastor you know and encourage them today. Who knows what extreme they are facing today.

Love that we all can be in the trenches of student ministry together.

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