Let’s be honest, ministry can be overwhelming. Anything from creating the next sermon series to after church parent meetings, student ministers wear a multitude of hats. The student pastor role is unlike any other position in the church. Despite what people might think, your role is not to solely hang out with students at Starbucks, have pizza parties and play Xbox on the weekends. You are responsible for creating environments and avenues for student’s lives to be changed. You challenge students, minister to parents, and hopefully lead leaders in that endeavor. It can be a tremendous mission to tackle alone. So you must rely on those who serve in your ministry to make it happen.
Volunteers and leaders in our ministries make the ministry tick. As a student pastor, it should be less about you and more about them. Each volunteer brings a unique dynamic to the youth ministry table. How can you, by yourself, effectively reach two-hundred plus students? You can’t. Instead of focusing on your limited time and talents, what if you empowered your volunteer leaders to be the student pastors? What if small group leaders were going to the football games on Friday nights to connect with students? What if your leaders were texting students during the week before a big exam? Your effectiveness as a student ministry and pastor are now beyond the limits of yourself.
But here is the secret to making that kind of impact happen…
Leaders must feel valued.
Leaders must feel that they are a part of making a difference, not just volunteering. To be honest, I hate the word volunteer when it comes to ministry. I am cringing just typing it in this blog. For me, the word lacks the ownership needed to be effective. “Volunteering” seems so impersonal. Regardless of what you call it, people need to feel valued. If the people that serve are valued they will more than likely buy into the vision you cast, and ultimately be your biggest advocates. In addition, leaders are less likely to leave your ministry when valued.
Here are few ways to value your leaders.
Value Them Beyond Ministry
Sure, the common denominator of your relationship with your leaders is ministry. One of the most authentic way of valuing your leaders is to invest into their lives beyond ministry. Go beyond the shallow conversations around ministry and dig into their life outside of church stuff. Remember your leaders are husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, businessmen and women, not just leaders in your ministry. Love on their families. Ask about their time with God and how you can be praying for them.
Spend Time With Them Outside of Church
Some of my favorite times with leaders are not at church. One of the best ways you can value leaders is taking them to lunch, meeting for coffee, and better yet over to your house. Inviting leaders into your life inspires them to invite you into theirs. You get to know people on a totally different level when playing board games at your house over dessert or going on a double date with. Change it up. Get outside the walls of the church and spend time with the people you value.
Train and Equip Them
An often-neglected way of valuing leaders is through the process of training and equipping them. Maybe this is navigating through a book or study together. Maybe this is a series of meetings to equip leaders on hard issues the students they are leading are facing. Keep leaders informed on cultural trends and issues. This practice creates a culture of growing and equipping.
Celebrate the Wins
When you see a leader who knocks it out of the park, celebrate it. Send a hand written thank you note. Send them a gift card. Brag on them in front of others, but most importantly brag about them to their face. It is so important to highlight when something goes well. Celebrate the good. Leaders can often feel that we are always “coming down on them”, so encourage them more often. Here is the bottom line:
The more you pour in, the more they will pour out.
You need them, but they need you. You cannot do it by yourself. Love them, value them, disciple them.
Header image provided through creative commons. Adaptation from a photograph by Peddhapati.