Unfortunately, when many people think of a youth worker, they think of someone who is outgoing, athletic, has a goatee, and can play the guitar. In reality, though, we all know that these qualities have absolutely no bearing on whether someone is a great youth leader or not. There are much deeper character issues that are essential, such as spiritual maturity and a passion for teenagers. Maybe we haven’t considered some of these other not-so-public traits that are a part of every great youth worker out there.
1. They don’t know everything
The funny thing about knowledge is that the more you know, the more you realize how much you don’t know. Great youth workers are more than willing to admit that they don’t know everything. In fact, those who have been in ministry for decades are the ones who admit that they have the most learning to do!
2. They are teachable and humble
Since great youth workers are willing to admit that they don’t know everything, they are also very teachable and open to learning from others. That doesn’t mean they accept all input as wisdom, but they’re at least willing to honestly weigh it against their experience and make any adjustment as deemed necessary.
3. They are approachable
There’s that unspoken quality of great youth leaders where people just feel comfortable talking with them openly and privately, not because the leader signed an agreement to be confidential, but because they are naturally trustworthy and respected.
4. They spend time with the Lord
There’s a saying that that behind every great leader is a great spouse, but even more importantly, there is a great God in front of them with whom that leader communes with every day. A youth leader can only be great when they are first and foremost wholeheartedly following the Lord in their own personal life.
5. They take plenty of time off
A good youth leader recognizes that youth ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. They establish healthy boundaries in ministry, they maintain good relationships at home, and take plenty of time to keep their emotional and physical batteries charged, knowing that they are no good to anyone else if they don’t first keep their own lives in check.
6. They train others, then delegate
A good youth worker knows that ministry is not about trying to do it all on their own. Instead, they equip the body of Christ for service and then, once properly trained, they hand aspects of the ministry off to other people, knowing that only then will the ministry really start to grow.
7. They never stop learning
Reading both ministry and non-ministry material is a regular part of any good youth worker’s schedule. They attend seminars when possible and regularly interact with other youth workers who challenge and stimulate their thinking. This ensures that both their minds and ministry will never fall into a rut.
8. They model more than they teach
The most effective learning takes place when something is caught, not taught. Great youth leaders know this and live lives that are continually investing into the teenagers and parents around them, not only from a stage, but in everyday life by letting them see how faith and real life intersect in their own lives all the time.
9. They admit weaknesses
Not only do the admit weaknesses, but they don’t dwell on them either. Instead, they delegate their areas of weakness in ministry to someone who is strong in that area. Together they form a team that is exponentially more powerful than they were apart.
What other traits would you add to this list?
Posted on November 18, 2008