Youth Leadership 101: What to look for in a youth leader

Youth Leadership 101Most paid youth workers know they need to put together a team of adult leaders to serve the teens and the ministry, but surprisingly few actually know what they’re looking for besides someone who is breathing. It almost feels like anyone qualifies to be a youth leader just because they’re out of high school and attend the church.

While you will never have a perfect person serve on the team, there are a few qualities you should look for when recruiting leaders, or considering to accept someone who approaches you about working with the youth. Here are some of the most important qualities to look for.

  • Growing Edge – First and foremost, there needs to be a hunger for personal and spiritual growth. We cannot lead where we have not been. Look for someone who will be a positive spiritual role model for teens to look up to, follow, and imitate.
  • Positive Attitude – The ability to work with and see people and situations in a constructive way. Nothing destroys a team’s momentum than someone who is usually negative.
  • Servanthood – The willingness to sacrifice time and energy for others without needing anyone to notice.
  • Team Player – The mind-set of looking out for others and lifting others up.
  • Follow-Through – A commitment to be responsible and to fulfill any specific ministries or jobs taken.
  • Integrity – Trustworthiness and solid character; consistency in words and walk are key.
  • Discipline – The willingness to do what is required regardless of personal mood. Someone who understands that youth meetings and events are for students, and thus they stay student-minded.
  • Relational – The ability to make others feel comfortable. Every student counts and needs to be known, greeted, and cared for.
  • Sense of Humor – Ability to laugh at yourself, try new things and have a good time learning from your mistakes (and your youth pastor’s mistakes!).
  • Patience – Someone who is patient with himself/herself and with others and doesn’t stress when the learning curve is high. Look for someone who is willing to learn. They also be patient with others, remembering that everyone is at a different place. Youth leaders need to reach out and love people where they’re at. Feeling comfortable and connecting with students takes time – going to camps, retreats and special events will help intensify and solidify your relationships with students. The more they invest, the more they will get out of it, so find someone who can take initiative.
  • Teachable Spirit – The ability to be humble, open to loving criticism and able to learn from others.

Question: How many of these qualities to you possess yourself? Which ones do you need to work on to become a better youth leader for your ministry?

What else do you look for in potential youth leaders? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Lifeway StudentsBeen in youth ministry for 2 years or fewer? Apply for a FREE 10 week one-on-one Life In Student Ministry Mentorship with one of our 13 youth ministry veterans. Application closes on January 24, 2009. Mentorship is made available for free thanks to Lifeway Students, who are supplying all the resources and materials to each mentee. Thanks, Lifeway Students!

Posted on January 21, 2009

New eBookGo
Focused Youth Ministry ebook

85% off!

Focused Youth Ministry

This practical "how to" ebook will walk you through a 30-step process to discovering God's vision for your unique ministry context. The process also shows you how to implement that vision and put metrics in place to evaluate what is moving the vision forward and what isn't.

Price: $12.95 Limited time: $1.99