Practical Passion for Young Leaders

Practical Passion for Young Leaders

This post is an addendum to a previous post (Practical Passion Produces Progress) and is directed toward young leaders.

When thinking about developing leadership skills it helps to think about it in terms of making deposits into a bank account. Except that in this bank account, knowledge, experience and spiritual maturity are the currency. By making regular deposits into the bank, whether it’s by reading, doing research or having daily devotions, every deposit increases the bottom line. This is important because as the account grows, so does our leadership potential. We cannot lead beyond where we have been and where we are capable of going in the near future. We cannot have ministry without maturity. In this post we will look at three different principles about passion that we can add to our accounts.

1. Learn from everything and everyone. One of the best things about being passionate about leadership and recognizing that God has called you early on is that you can start developing leadership qualities sooner rather than later. Since we do not possess years and years of practical experience, we are able to learn from those who do. Learning from the experiences of others allows us to learn valuable lessons learned from experience without having to go through the experience ourselves. We cannot learn everything this way, experience IS still valuable, but it can help us be better prepared.

2. Be passionate about the right things. Sometimes in our youth we can become easily impassioned. However, if we have been called by God to fulfill a specific purpose in His kingdom then that should always be our first priority. Even if you do not know what exactly God has called you to do, God’s kingdom should still be the most important thing your life. Becoming passionate about the right things means to be passionate about the things of God. Whether it is Bible reading or prayer, we should consider it an incredible blessing and not a burden.

3. Develop solid disciplines. Routines are key to steadily increasing growth. If we can develop good spiritual habits such as getting a bible reading plan, praying daily and exploring apostolic literature and resources on a regular basis, our personal and spiritual growth will never be at a stand-still. Being firmly established in the Word of God speaks volumes to those around you and gives you the strength you need to endure future seasons of opposition. The closer your walk with God becomes the easier it gets to trust Him when you need Him the most.

Practical Passion Produces Progress

Practical Passion Produces Progress

Time

Passion.

If we are going to create anything with true value, then we have to have passion. We know we’re passionate about something when we get excited by it or we care about it and desire more of it. The object of our passion can be anything. It can be God, family and friends, ministry, or your vocation. Whatever it’s for, passion is what gives us the drive to apply ourselves in a deeper way. Whether we are trying to better ourselves or better our product, without passion we lack resolve.

There is rarely a time when we suffer from a lack of passion, especially when we’re doing what God has called us to do. The problem is not the passion, but progress. Or more specifically, lack thereof.

Passion demands results.

Our passion plants the belief inside of us that we are able to make something better and without change, without growth, we begin to doubt what we’re actually capable of. If you and I want to live out our passions then we have to become purposeful about we’re going to see progress.

Passion requires time. Passion by itself is just desire. It’s the belief in what could be done. Until we act on our passion nothing will change. Acting on our passions means that we will take steps, make decisions and exert effort to actualize our passion. All of these things will require a commitment of time. Time is passions number one enemy, because if you do not have the time then you cannot employ the passion. I believe it was Malcolm Gladwell who wrote about the “10,000-Hour Rule”. Gladwell used the 10,000-Hour Rule to explain how people who dedicate time to something will become successful at whatever they are doing. If someone practices the piano for 10,000 hours, they will become a brilliant piano player. It does not matter how pitiful they are at the beginning, with enough time and enough practice, everyone can be successful at something. If we realize that in order for us to see progress we have to be willing to invest the time then we’re one step closer to harnessing our passion. Passion is irreplaceable and so is practice!

Time requires management. Time is probably the most frustrating part about human existence. Everything we do in life requires time. Work, travel, eating, sleeping, maintaining relationships all take time. We never have enough time. There’s no rest for the weary. If passion requires time and time is elusive then we have to redeem some time for the purpose of making passion-progress. How do we redeem time? We make conscious decisions about where our time is going. Most of the time management books I have read recommend that we keep a daily time-log to see how we are spending our time. I think that most of us already know where our time is going. We are not as oblivious to time-wasters as we think. After I’m doing checking e-mails, catching up on social media updates and watching youtube videos, I know that I’ve wasted a lot of time. If we’re serious about success and progress then we already know the exponential value of small investments made over a period of time. Learn how to leverage time for your passion and progress will follow.

Never doubt the passion that God has placed inside of you. Rest assured that with Him you are capable of all that He has for you. Passion is power. If you never lose your passion for the things of God then it is impossible not to be blessed.

Develop Trust Before You Deliver Truth

Develop Trust Before You Deliver Truth

Trust

The goal of every lesson you teach and every sermon you preach is to communicate truth effectively. Whether it’s the truth of the gospel or truth about life, it’s not about communicating because you can or even because you’re supposed to. You communicate because you believe that the message of truth you’re delivering, if applied, will benefit someone’s life. How then should you deliver truth?

Preach what you practice. You’ve heard practice what you preach, and that’s good. You can’t expect anyone to do anything that you are not willing to do yourself. So if you’re going to preach about showing the love of Christ, you can’t leave church and then scream and yell at the first person who cuts you off on your way home. Nobody will follow a hypocrite for very long. Instead, preach what you practice. What godly principles do you already live out every day? In what areas has God already shaped or changed your heart? These are the truths you should be communicating. People are more likely to accept what you say as truth if they have already seen that you believe it too. Your life can be the evidence that transforms a skeptic into a believer.

Relationships shape influence. When you deliver truth it will resonate most with those you’ve proven trustworthy to. For example, it is hard to believe any diagnosis about your health given to you by a complete stranger and easy to believe a diagnosis from your family doctor. The difference is not only that the doctor is a legitimate practitioner and that the stranger is not, but that the doctor has proven gained your trust over the course of your relationship. Proving to be trustworthy opens the door for truth to be delivered. How do you develop trust? You do what you say you’re going to do. You treat and minister to everyone equally. You put others before and above yourself. And it’s not about earning the right to influence others. It’s about getting people, your audience, to trust that you will only say or do something that you truly believe is for their benefit and not your own.

If you commit yourself to gaining trust first, before you communicate truth, then the truth will be received more readily and will have a greater impact.
It is also true that truth connected to a solid relationship serves only as the launching pad for the revelation of even greater truths as the relationship continues to strengthen.

Why You Should Already Have a Team

Why You Should Already Have a Team

Teamwork

Creative Team, Leadership Team, or Dream Team. It doesn’t matter what you call it, but it does matter whether or not you have one. I’m talking about a team made-up of people who will help you carry out your ministry. Whether your youth group has 6 people or 60, you need to develop a team if you’re going to grow and succeed. These three reasons should convince you to either create a team, or utilize your existing team in ways you’ve never done before.

1. To Get Help

You can’t fulfill every job needed to facilitate a growing youth group. As attendance increases, so does the amount of work involved. Thus, the team becomes your means of distributing duties. Things that need to be done require people to do them. This doesn’t mean that everyone who is involved in your youth group becomes a part of the team, but those who are leading in different areas of ministry (i.e. music, greeting, production) need a seat at the table.

Outsource your areas of weakness to free up time for you to leverage your strengths. The team is there to help carry the load, not run the show. Your job should never be to carry out every task, because quite frankly, you’re not good at everything. No, your job is to oversee each component of the ministry to make sure everything evolves toward reaching a single goal, creating the most effective ministry for reaching lost youth with the gospel. Always remember this.

The team should be reserved for leaders who are invested in the success of the ministry.

2. To Hear the Truth

If you spend too much time in the clouds, you might need someone to pull you down. I’m not saying that you need people around you who will be mean to you, but what I am saying is that you need to hear the truth. After you’ve invested hours of hard work into any service, event or promotion, it’s natural to want to believe that you’ve just accomplished the greatest thing your youth group has ever seen when in reality, it might have totally bombed. Perhaps the best and worst thing about a team built on a culture of trust is that they’ll provide you with the truth. You should want the truth more than anything else. There’s no sense in continuing down a path that you think is absolutely incredible if it’s not having any impact. Even though the truth hurts, a reality check is often the best way to change gear and start seeing results. Evaluating and reacting to past actions should always be at the heart of how you and your team chart a course for the future of your ministry.

Practical advice?

Don’t wait until a ministry season is over to find out how things are going, invite planned and spontaneous feedback from every member of your team on how you and the rest of the ministry is performing and take the appropriate action to improve.

3. To Develop Leaders

Teams are the most under-utilized tool for developing future church leaders. The very fact that you have a team or will have a team means that you have identified leaders in your youth group. Having a team presents you with the opportunity to regularly meet with these leaders, to give advice, and to develop youth for future roles in the church and even in your ministry. Leaders, of any age, are the type of people who want to become involved in something worthwhile. This is for two reasons:

  1. Leaders want to contribute in whatever way they can to make something they believe in better.
  2. Leaders constantly want to develop themselves and see growth in new areas.

If you are willing to take the time and effort to invest in your team, you will not only benefit in your own ministry, but you will provide the church with strong leaders and laymen for years to come. In every meeting you hold and in every interaction you have make sure you send the right message to your team. Show them the qualities that you one day hope they develop for themselves: strong values and ethics, a commitment to excellence, and a passion for the Kingdom of God.

As a leader, your greatest responsibility is to prepare for the future.

See? Teams are important and you should have one.
You should have one AND you should use it!

Build A Ministry That Outlasts You

Grow

For most of us ministry is a labour of love.

Take yourself as an example. You work tirelessly, you pursue excellence, you serve unselfishly all because God has placed a call on your life.

You are the leader. As the leader a lot of the responsibility for the success or failure of your ministry is placed on you.

You are the one who stays up late at night preparing lessons, you are the one who goes before God for the needs of your students, you are the one encouraging others to give their all for the Kingdom of God so that more students will be saved.

To you, I ask this question, “What will happen to your ministry when you are no longer a part of it?”

  • When you feel that it’s time to move on, to pass on the burden, what is going to happen?
  • Is your ministry prepared to and capable of continuing without you in it?

I hope so, but if not, here’s how it can.

The first step you need to take is to realize this very important principle.

You and the ministry are two separate identities.

God doesn’t build a ministry around a particular leader, but around the people being ministered to. Knowing this is and believing it will allow you to evaluate your minister outside of your individual role.

Doing this will cause you to ask three important questions:

  1. Is the ministry spiritually healthy?
  2. Is the model sustainable over a long period of time without my involvement?
  3. Is there someone to fill the gap I will create?

These questions highlight the three factors to longevity in ministry that I want to elaborate on: spirituality, sustainability, and succession.

1. Spirituality

A spiritually healthy ministry is one that is focused on worshipping God, growing the church and discipling believers.

There is no substitute for a move of God.

No matter how flashy the lights are or how cool the sermon graphics are, if God’s not there then lives won’t be changed.

In order for a ministry to continue, it has to be filled with people who understand why it exists in the first place. If you have young people in your ministry that are passionate about living for God and are faithful in attendance then you’ve already created the right atmosphere to carry your ministry forward.

2. Sustainability

Do you ever feel like you’re burnt out because every week you’re running around working hard to make sure you’ll be ready to have your weekly service?

If you are then your model is probably not sustainable without you.

The ministry, not just you, has to do some of the weekly work. Putting volunteers in charge of different parts of the service will help things get done consistently and efficiently.

Efficiency is the key here. Have a team made up of members with varying responsibility to start building self-responsible youth.

3. Succession

Perhaps the most important part of building a ministry that lasts is the selection and training of new leaders.

No matter how spiritual or efficient your ministry is, it will always need leadership for God to continue taking it to new heights.

Identify someone with anointing and potential and train them! Teach them what you do, teach them how to be successful on their own, teach them everything you wish you had known when you got started.

Your goal for the leader who will pick up where you left off should be that they are more successful than you ever were. There is no room here for big egos or unhealthy pride.

Prepare the way, point in the right direction and then let go.

BONUS: Support

Don’t be needy, give the ministry space. But be available to lend a hand whenever it is needed and continue to invest in the ministry through your continual prayers.

 

Do all of these things and your ministry will not only outlast you, but it will flourish beyond all that you thought was possible.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with someone you know.

 

 

 

How To Reach Your Next Big Goal

Every human being complains about being busy.

If someone says that they’re not busy then we either a) don’t believe them or b) convince ourselves that they’re lazy and don’t care about doing anything significant.

These conclusions are our way of rationalizing our own busyness. 

But why do you need to rationalize your own busyness?

Are you busy simply because busyness makes your time seem more valuable?
Are you busy because busyness equates to making money?
Are you busy because busyness means that you’re having fun?

Ask yourself this question: Do you need to be so busy?

The answer is probably no.

Even though we like to think we’re busy because we do important work and that we’re using our time wisely, we’re usually busy because we CAN be busy.

No matter what you fill your time with, there is always one more thing for you to do.

There will ALWAYS be another video to watch, another post to read, and another email to answer.

But does this mean that you need to do that one thing? Again, the answer is probably no.

So what do we do?

Do we do nothing? No. We change the things that keep us busy.

If we’re going to be busy, let’s at least be busy with things that matter.

All you need to do is replace the useless waste with things that will lead you somewhere you want to go.

1. Pick a destination.

Whether it’s a ministry you’re trying to grow or a personality trait you’re trying to overcome, choose a destination that you’re passionate about pursuing.

Once you’ve got the destination, determine the things that will get you to where you want to go.

Whether it’s a book you should read, a website you should visit or a place you should go, make a list of all the thing you can do to make progress toward your destination.

The things that make this list are the things that you should be busy with!

2. Fill your space properly.

It’s true that even though we’re all busy, we also all have free time. How we choose to spend our free time determines how much progress we make on reaching our destination.

When we waste our free time we sabotage ourselves by squandering the compound value of small steps taken toward a single destination.

3. Make the destination visible and keep it that way! 

Write it down, put it on post-it notes, make it your desktop image, do whatever you need to do to make sure that the destination is visible in the places where you’ll have free time.

A visible destination forces us to evaluate how making one decision over another will affect our progress toward the destination.

Next time you’re faced with a decision about your time, I hope you will remember the value of small steps and choose the profitable path over the growing pool of useless excess.

If you do remember and choose wisely, you’ll reach your destination. And then, when people ask YOU why YOU’RE so busy, you’ll be able to say “Because I just had to get here!”

Thanks for reading,
if you liked the ideas outlines in this post please share this post with a ministry-minded friend.

6 Steps To Having A Young Person Speak For The First Time

6 Steps To Having A Young Person Speak For The First Time

I love this topic because it was on December 9th, 2007 at the ripe old age of 15 that I was given the opportunity to preach to my church, the church I’ve been a part of my entire life. I preached a simple message entitled “Following After God” and I still remember myself standing there glued to the pulpit, shaking uncontrollably. Since that time I’m grown a lot, but I’ve always wanted to talk about the delicate process of using a young person in this capacity for the very first time so here it goes, here are my “6 Steps for Having a Young Person Speak for the First Time.”

1. The Right Kind of Teen

I’m sure you can describe the perfect christian. They show up early to every service, they’re quick to volunteer, they pay their tithes, they sing in perfect harmony and clap on beat, they always respond to the worship leader and they help pray for people in the altar.

You get the idea.

Teenagers are not perfect christians. Even preachers AIN’T perfect, never will be. So don’t wait for the perfect christian to come along to use someone in ministry. Focus on three areas: the heart, faithfulness and calling.

The Heart: Look for a young person who has a real passion for church and the things of God. Depending on your youth services this one might be pretty easy to spot.

Faithfulness: Are they committed? Do they show up? Do they make the extra effort to come to special events? It’s always best to use a young person who demonstrates a commitment to the church and Jesus.

Calling: Not everyone is called to be used by God in teaching and preaching. Some people are born speakers and influencers while others find the courage to speak through their passion for God’s Word. Don’t just look to the obvious person, but find someone who is also rooted in God’s Word.

2. Popping the Question

Excuse my phrasing. I guarantee that inviting a young person to speak in one of your services is a lot easier than asking your girlfriend if she wants to be your wife. Trust me, popping THAT question is harder than you think.

When you think you have found someone, through observation and conversation, that feels like they have been called to God to preach, ask them to preach!

Ask them, don’t tell them. 

Even though they may feel God pulling their heart in a certain direction, they might not be ready to make the first step of faith. Phrase in such a way that what you’re ultimately saying is this, “I’m giving you the opportunity to preach if you want to, but under no circumstances do you HAVE to do this, the decision is yours and yours alone.”

You might really, really want them to say yes, but don’t apply pressure, let the decision come from the heart. At the same time, if they decline, don’t show disappointment, because it might just discourage them from responding positively in the future when they feel more ready.

3. The Ugly, Rare “Cheerleader Coach”

The process of preparing to preach can be pretty daunting for the first time. Finding inspiration from God, doing the research and compiling an effective, clear and powerful message still challenges the most experienced preachers, so help out! Seriously, no matter how smart and capable you might feel that person is, they need your help.

Helping is not doing the work for them, but it’s providing the wisdom the young person needs to get started. Throughout the process you should be an easily accessible lifeline. The young preacher should never feel alone of come to a point where they feel helpless, they should always have you to turn to. You’re their cheerleader coach.

Cheer-leading is about providing support and energy when the team needs it most.

Coaching is about instructing the players on how to improve and make the right moves to find success.

You need to be both if the first time preacher is going to find success.

4. Business as Usual: Avoiding Hype

So a young person is scheduled to preach and you could not be more excited for them. They’ve got their notes prepared, they’ve practiced in the mirror and they’re ready to go.   Even though you’re both excited, it’s better to avoid creating any hype and carry out the service as usual.

The dreadful announcement that you are going to be having a “Super Secret Special Speaker” just adds so much pressure and stress, not to mention the rumours and conspiracy theories this type of announcement will spawn. Teenagers are relentless when it comes to finding out stuff they’re not supposed to know.

Avoiding the hype pays dividends when it comes to managing the first time preachers nerves. Don’t overestimate the simplicity of this point, you’ll regret it.

5. So how do YOU think that went?

Just like I mentioned in the previous point, let the service finish as usual. You don’t need to get up and have everyone clap for the preacher because it was their first time. It’s better to close out the altar call as usual and acknowledge the highlights of the sermon next week.

Once everything is over it’s important to discuss how it went. Avoid doing it right after the service, wait a few times and set up a meeting or phone call where you can discuss how the speaker thinks they did and not how YOU think they did. It is far better for you to let them point out any shortcomings they noticed so that you can offer advice. Always give good news first.

DON’T NITPICK. 

Make this note to self: this is their first time. Remember your first time? Ya, you weren’t so hot were you? Just because you have years of experience does not mean that they need to hear every single thing they did wrong. My suggestion is that you focus on one area that they brought up that you believe they can easily fix and do better next time. Most things will improve with experience but always remember that every speaker has a different style, whatever you do, don’t try to change who they are.

6. Next Steps: Mentoring to Maturity

Stop to think about what has just happened. Some young person has just delivered their first message ever! Hopefully the experience has confirmed what they’ve felt in their heart for a long time, that they are called by God to preach the gospel.

The next step is to mentor this young preacher to maturity. This time wasn’t perfect, and next time won’t be either so don’t expect it. The rate of growth you see in them may at times be frustrating, but never give up on someone who has been called by God.

Give some next steps for the young person to follow. Maybe you buy them a book to read (please don’t just pick any book, choose a book that you KNOW will help them) or maybe give them a bible reading plan to start. Whatever it is keep in touch and get regular feedback from them on how they are growing in their relationship with God and their calling.

Above all, believe in those who God is wanting to use by giving them the opportunity to answer the call.

Good luck!

I’d love to hear about your first time speaking! Leave a comment.