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Three Thoughts about Adult Leadership

I love working with adult leaders. In our ministry, they are the backbone of our process of discipleship. We have people serving in all capacities, from those who keep up with registrations for the latest mission trip, to those who clean up pizzas at the end of a meeting, to those who will teach middle school girls how to walk faithfully with God.

One of the greatest exhilarations is to see a leader succeeding in his or her service. It energizes me to hear stories of adult leaders having a positive impact on our youth, because I know that I’m not the bottleneck and others are joining in this service to God. So I want to do my best to serve them well, equip them, and help them grow in leadership. Here are three ways I try to do that.

  1. Give encouragement often. I go through phases of remembering to do this. Speaking as a young leader, it is very important for a young leader to know when he or she is hitting the mark. And beyond this, it is important for a leader to encourage those he serves in their faithfulness and devotion to God, to “exhort one another, as long as it is called ‘today'” (Heb. 3:13, ESV).

  2. Let them lead. This almost goes without saying, that if you have people who you want to lead, you must let them. But it can be easy to get in the way of this by taking over projects or roles after you’ve delegated them, or even by failing to give away leadership, leaving your leaders to just stand by idly. If you want leaders to lead, let them, and being willing to let them fail.

  3. Clarify expectations. One big way you can prevent failure in your leadership is by clarifying what you want them to accomplish. If you have leaders for your big group meeting, give them specific guidance. Instead of telling them to mingle, tell them to “meet five kids and learn their names, then sit with them during the service and ask them what they thought after service.” The more specific you can get, the better your leaders will be able to fulfill your expectations.

As a side note, clarifying expectations is one of those things I learned to do after trial and error. The sad truth is that I failed to set expectations for our leaders, and because of it, saw many adults try to work with teens, fail to get connected, and then walk away to another ministry. In the end, it was my failure to equip them effectively.