5 Ways to Gain Influence as a Young Leader



Being the youngest person in the room can be hard. Sometimes it feels like everyone knows exactly what they’re doing while you’re filled with doubt and insecurity on the inside.

I remember when I first started out as a leader. I was at a networking lunch with several leaders from various organizations. I was nervous and hoping to gain some encouragement and insight from some of the other leaders in attendance.

While in line to grab lunch I started up a conversation with another leader. As we got to talking he began asking me a lot of questions about my background. After I shared a little bit about myself he pulled me aside and proceeded to tell me why he thought I had no business being there. He said I was too young and inexperienced to even be in the same room learning and asking questions of leaders like himself. Needless to say I walkout out of that gathering pretty discouraged.

Not long after this I came across a passage of scripture that lifted my spirits and set me on a course to grow and develop as a young leader:

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV)

In this verse the Apostle Paul  encourages Timothy and gives him some advice on how to gain influence as a leader. Here are a few practical ways, regardless of your age, to put Paul’s advice into practice:

1. In Speech

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” – Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

This is where many young leaders mess up. Crude language, making fun of people, and sharing gossip might get you a few laughs but it will damage your reputation over the long haul, especially on social media. Most schools and organizations today will check what you’ve posted online as part of their admissions and hiring process. You might not think that’s fair, but it is reality. Before you post something online ask yourself, “Would I want my future employer to see this?” Chances are they will.

2. In Conduct

The old saying, “Actions speak louder than words” is true. Leaders gain influence by what they do, not what they say they will do. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, but keep all the promises you make. Follow your leader like you want those you lead to follow you. Go out of your way to help others with their work. Praise your team when things go well and take responsibility when they don’t. These actions will accrue interest into your leadership account.

3. In Love

Be loving and courteous to everyone you interact with. Don’t talk negatively about others. It can get you into a lot of trouble, even when you think the person you’re talking to will keep it to themselves. You don’t know for sure if they might repeat what you shared later or who else might be listening close by. Being kind to people, even when they’re not around or always kind back, paves the way for them to be kind to you in the future.

What you say about people, particularly when they’re not around, says more about you then it does about them. (Click to Tweet)

4. In Faith

“Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.” – 1 Peter 3:15-16 (NLT).

Live out your faith in a way that is respectfully to the beliefs of others. Don’t demean someone of a different denomination or world-view. Discover why they believe what they believe. Ask questions to learn more about them, not as a way to trip them up or prove a point. When you take treat someone else’s faith respectfully, chances are they’ll want to hear what you have to say about yours.

5. In Purity

“Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.” – Proverbs 4:23 (NCV)

Andy Stanley says, “Who and what you listen to will influence you.” Get the people and things out of your life that are filling your mind with negativity and garbage. You may think you’re strong enough to handle it, but eventually it will erode your soul. Jesus said, “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world” (Matthew 5:8 Msg).

It’s not how old you are, but who you are that will determine your success as a leader. (Click to Tweet)

Our churches and organizations need young leaders now more than ever. Your passion and fresh ideas are crucial to tackling the challenges facing our churches, organizations, and world today. Use these tips to gain influence and make a difference.

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2 Ways to Get More Students Involved in Your Ministry



Have you ever struggled with getting students involved in your ministry?

I have. I think many of us who work with students have been frustrated, hurt, and confused by the lack of engagement in our ministries at one time or another.

We put our heart and soul into planning, promoting, and putting on programs and events we believe will change lives. We have big dreams of seeing students transformed into authentic, passionate, and life-long followers of Jesus. But it doesn’t always work out the way we’d hope.

Over my 16+ years of working with children and teenagers I’ve learned two big lessons in getting (and keeping) students involved in the life of the church and growing in their relationship with Christ:

1. Change things up.

Sometimes kids check out because we keep doing the same thing week after week, month after month, year after year. To put it simply, they’re bored.

Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If the students in your ministry aren’t as involved as you’d like, it may be time to do something different.

Change things up by having different speakers rotate in, have some students you trust plan and give the next talk, revamp the order of service, add a time of silent meditation, do a service project during service, have them text in questions live to you during your teaching, etc.

Get rid of the sacred cows. Try something new. If it doesn’t work out, try something else. The key is to be open to keep things fresh and to be open to new ideas.

Changing things up in your ministry will get students more involved with your ministry. (Click to Tweet)

2. Challenge them to step up.

Reggie Joiner says, “Kids won’t have a significant faith until we give them something significant to do with their faith.” I didn’t really get involved in my youth ministry growing up until my youth pastor challenged me to start reading my Bible on my own and serve in a ministry.

The kids and teenagers in your ministries are looking for something significant to do with their lives. Find the kids who are bored or checked out and give them a piece of the ministry to own.

Ask them to help you plan your services and talks. Let them run and manage your ministry’s website and social media accounts. Have them put together and run worship and tech at your programs. Challenge them to serve on a ministry team or go on a missions trip.

Giving students something significant to do in your ministry will keep them connected to your ministry. (Click to Tweet)

Getting kids more involved in our ministries today is harder than ever. There is so much competing for their attention. Changing things up and challenging them to set up are two of the best ways I know to get students more involved.

Imagine what would happen if you started changing things up in your ministry? Think of what could change in the lives of the kids and teenagers you minister to if you began to do something new and fresh in your ministry.

Imagine if even a few of the students you challenged to set up this week actually did. Picture how your church and community would be transformed if your students discovered the joys of giving and committed themselves to serving God and others in love.

Isn’t that why we got into ministry in the first place?

Get students more involved in your ministry by changing things up and challenging them to step up. (Click to Tweet)

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3 Crucial Actions to Take After Your Next Event



The big event you’ve been working on has just wrapped up. You and your team have spent months planning out every detail. You worked tirelessly to make sure everything was as excellent as possible. You successfully troubleshot every problem throughout the night. The lights are turned off, everyone’s left, you’ve locked up, and you’re heading home to reflect on a job well-done.

Much of our time in ministry is focused on getting ready for programs and events. We spend so much time beforehand thinking through all the details leading up to the event that we often forget to think through what actions we need to take following the event.

Marketing professional Cheryl Kopka says, “Just because your event is over doesn’t mean that the work is done!” A properly thought-out post event plan will ensure better results for your events and make planning for them easier and more effective.

Here are three crucial actions to take after your next event:

1. Recuperate

Rest is one of the best actions we can take immediately following a big event. We expend a lot of energy and emotions before and during. It’s important to our long-term health and success to recuperate. If we don’t we run the risk of burning-out of ministry and hurting ourselves.

If it’s an event on a Friday night, for example, sleeping in Saturday morning may be all the recoup time you need. If the event was bigger, like a VBS, Camp, Missions Trip, etc you may need something more: A couple of comp days, a family vacation a few weeks after the event, etc.

Sleep-in, nap, read a book, go to the beach, grab coffee or a meal with a friend, watch TV, take an extra day off (if the time you put in warrants that) or anything else that energizes you.

Remember: The bigger the event the more you’ll need to recuperate.

2. Evaluate

After you and your team have had some time to recoup, gather everyone together and evaluate the event. Here are the questions I lead my teams through to evaluate an event:

  • What worked well?
  • What didn’t work?
  • What was missing?

I take these answers and record them in our planning form. Then I file the form away where it’s easily accessible when we plan the same event in the future.

Andy Stanley says, “Experience doesn’t make you wiser. Evaluated experience makes you wiser.”

Want to do ministry better? Take time to evaluate what you do and how you do it.

3. Celebrate

It’s easy in the pace of ministry to gloss over this one. Our natural tendency is to move on to the next thing on our calendar and task list. I know I’ve been guilty of that many times.

But it’s important for your ministry and your team to celebrate your wins. Collect and share stories of changed lives. Thank the people who helped make your event happen. Spotlight those individuals who went above and beyond. Email or text everyone who attended and let them know you’re glad they came.

Depending on the size and scope of the event you may want to do something more to celebrate like taking everyone out to dinner, passing out gift cards, or even creating a keepsake like a framed photo or a video recap of the event.

John Schnatter, founder of Papa John’s says, “What gets rewarded gets repeated.” If you want your team to continue to do good work for you, be sure to thank and reward them for what they’ve done.

Every event needs a solid post event plan. (Click to Tweet)

Putting on an event is hard work. It takes intentionality on both the front and back-end in to make it truly successful. Take some time before your next event to plan how you will recuperate, evaluate, and celebrate after it’s done.

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3 Ways to Partner With Parents



There’s a lot of conversation in the church today about partnering with parents. It’s a big deal to me both as a pastor and as a parent. But sometimes it can be a struggle to know exactly how to go about partnering with parents.

Here are three practical ways your church and ministry can begin to partner with the parents in your community this week:

Affirm Them
Parents usually only hear from their child’s leaders when their child has done something wrong. Train your leaders to catch their kids doing something right and to communicate that to their parents. Send encouraging notes and texts to parents during the week. When a parent informs you of a prayer request don’t just tell them that you’ll pray for them during the week, actually pray with them right then and there.

The more you affirm the parents in your ministry, the better relationship they will have with your ministry. (Tweet That)

Inform Them
A parent’s world is busy. There are school projects to help out with, practices and games to attend, appointments to keep track of, and family obligations to meet. Keep them in the loop through weekly and monthly handouts and emails, social media updates, and keeping your website up-to-date.

Clear, concise, and consistent communication is crucial to partnering with parents. (Tweet That)

Listen to Them
When a parent comes to you with an issue or concern, take it seriously. Follow-up with them as soon as possible or schedule a time to meet with them about it. Consider creating an anonymous survey that parents can fill out to give you input. Ask on social media how your ministry can better serve their family. Meet with key parents (both believers and non-believers) a few times each year to find out how you can partner with them more effectively.

Parents are more likely to listen to you if you will first listen to them. (Tweet That)

Every parent is insecure on some level. Most of us are doing the best we can, but we’re always on the look-out for others who can help us and our kids. When you and your team go out of your way to affirm, inform, and listen to the parents in your ministries you show that you’re just the kind of partners we’ve been looking for.

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