“I’m sorry pastor, but you’re the problem with this church!”
What did I just say to the senior pastor? I know what I was feeling but what was I thinking? What was I doing?? Needless to say, I didn’t get to stay on full time. But when all the smoke cleared 10 years later, it proved to be prophetic—he was the problem. Think of where the church could have been had he understood his own personality and limitations… a decade of lost opportunity. What are your lost opportunities?
As a youth pastor, working with students is a lot of fun—and a lot of challenge. Working with their parents can be taxing—and sometimes—if we’re candid—toxic—especially in today’s culture. When asked, What are the top three issues you have as a youth pastor, working with parents is usually one of the top three—if not the top issue. But there are other issues, too. Working with staff. Working with the senior pastor. Working with the ADD students. Working with low or no budget. How much can you/should you talk about sexual issues or other touchy issues of the day. The stress you experience as a youth pastor/leader is significant and many are looking for a new career within a few years—or at least struggling with this stress more than originally anticipated.
A deep, personal relationship with Christ is your first defense in dealing with these issues. Chances are, you have a good relationship with God—it’s why you do what you do. If not, find a mentor and grow. There are also additional things you can do to deal with all these issues and catapult you into the success you desire in your career.
Something that everybody talks about, but few understand. Something that many think they have naturally, but the lack of it in church today is astounding and the cause of 90% of the people problems—of all problems. Something many Christians and pastors think they have naturally just because they are Christians—or pastors. Something everyone knows they need, but few practice because very few teach it or mentor it—correctly. Something everybody thinks they have but the more they say they have it, the less they actually seem to have it. You’ve probably even guessed it—that one word concept that when practiced properly solves that multitude of sins and bad management.
Now maybe you’re a leadership expert having specifically studied it for years. If so, then you’re well on your way to a successful career. Stop reading now and go spend some quality time with your students. But if you really don’t understand and practice the principles of good leadership—or don’t know that you don’t know—I’ve got great news—your career is going to take off—because I’m going to show you how to be the best leader of people possible. So buckle up—we’re gunna fly!
1. You have a lid on your leadership ability. We all do. Like it or not, agree or not, care or not—you have a limit on your current leadership ability. And I’m not talking about your abilities to work with students, sharing the gospel, and helping them learn and grow—albeit that could be hampered, too. I’m talking about your ability to be a 360 degree leader so you can lead parents, staff, senior pastors, and more from where you are. The bad news? Your leadership ability—your understanding and practice of leadership principles—is determining your current level (or lack) of success. The good news? You can raise your leadership lid and become a Level 4 and Level 5 leader (the pinnacle)! If you’re not aware of where you are in your practice of good leadership methods and procedures, you won’t know how to change. Awareness is crucial.
It’s like training fleas (what?) Yep—training fleas. Okay, so how do you train a flea. Well, first you need a flea. Then take a jar—like an old mason jar—take off the top, put the flea in the jar and put the top back on—and watch. The flea will jump real high and each time hit his head on the inside of the top—or lid—of the jar. After about a minute of so, he will get tired of banging his head so he will jump just a little lower than the lid. You can now take the top off the jar and he will never jump out. He is trained to jump only so high.
We’re like the flea—we have a lid on our leadership ability—and like the flea, we can only go so far before we’re stuck. Leadership is about people—always has been, always will be. So if you don’t know how to lead people properly (operative word is properly) you will be forever stuck at the lowest level of leadership—a positional leader. Not a position you earned, but a position somebody gave you. You’re not automatically a good leader because you’re a pastor. And not because you’re the head of a church. And not even because you may have started a church. Most people—including pastors—are not trained well in leadership.
Hopefully, you see you that you have a lid on your leadership—if not, you need more growth than you realize. Who wants to admit they are not a good leader? Much of my career I was a bad to mediocre leader. I had to grow out of it through leadership study and practice. Fortunately, I had the best leadership teacher in the world (literally) and raised my lid. You can raise your lid. It’s like a sport, musical instrument, or a video game—when you first start, you’re not very good. With lot’s of correct practice, the game gets more fun and you start to win. If you don’t practice properly, you’ll always be mediocre, average, or just plain bad. That won’t get you to the top of your career—and you won’t have a good impact on the people around you. Plus, based on your personality style, it may be difficult for you to lead well because you are more Task oriented than People oriented. We’ll deal with that, too.
But you can get there. Abe Lincoln said, “That some have achieved great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well.” There is no reason—unless a direct intervention of God—that you can’t be the best youth pastor and best leader. Time to raise your lid. Here’s how…
2. The Law of Influence. I love the Afghan proverb that says, If you think you’re leading and there is no one following, you’re merely talking a walk. We can think we are leading, but if we have little influence, our effectiveness is low—or possibly non-existent. What do people really think of you or your leadership? Ask some people who have nothing to gain or lose from knowing you. What is your influence? Who has influence with you? What is influence and how do we get it? I go more in-depth into what influence is and how to get it in this three minute video, but I will sum it up here (from the video)—
“As Jim Collins noted in his landmark book Good to Great, the true Level 5 leaders are humble with huge resolve. It is not based on charisma and a selfish need to gain like so many other leaders. Influence comes from sacrifice, love, kindness, achievement, dying to self and living for others. To give is to gain. If loving others is the new second commandment from God, love and sacrifice must have a great impact and influence on everyone.”
Is your position as youth pastor about you or about others? Be candid. Look deeply. We gain influence by putting others first—the goal of leadership is growing yourself and others. As you lead someone, always ask yourself, “how do I add value to this person today?” Your mission isn’t to get them to accomplish, it’s to help them grow and learn how to lead themselves and others. As they do that—as you do that—everyone will accomplish. What can you do immediately and specifically to build your influence?
3. The Law of Process—Leadership develops daily—not in a day. You’ve heard the meme, “I want patience and I want it now!” Leadership is similar—people want it now. To quote James Allen from As A Man Thinketh, “People are anxious to improve their circumstances but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound.”
Leadership doesn’t develop in a day—it’s a lifelong pursuit. What you do today matters for tomorrow and beyond. If you want to be a good leader, you have to start developing the skill set daily—today. Just like muscle development. Want to read 50 books a year? It’s not done by having a marathon reading week, it’s done by reading an hour a day. For 365 days in a row. Just like losing weight is not done by starvation—it’s a lifestyle change—you lose a pound a week over the long haul. In a year, you’ve lost 50 pounds. The same with leadership practices. Doing them daily will get you to success.
Start with your To Don’t List. That’s a list of the top 10 things you want to STOP doing—bad leadership or bad relationship habits. Sometimes it’s easier to come up with the things you don’t want to do than it is deciding what you want to accomplish. This will at least free you up of those distractions—like, no FaceBook during the day; no more snooze button! When the alarm goes off, get up and go; only eat ice cream on Sundays. You get the idea. Come up with your own list and write it down!
One of the greatest problems is being good at something—good is the enemy of great. I know too many people—including me and some of my children—that are good at a lot of things—and we know it—but we are not great, and sometimes unwilling to do what is necessary to be great. To be a great leader, you have to acknowledge that you don’t know what it takes—and start learning. This journey will get you there.
4. Continue to grow. This is just a taste—these are only a few of the many, many Laws of Leadership and personal growth. So here’s the deal. I want to help mentor you in leadership so you can raise your lid as you grow as a youth pastor and in everything else you pursue. I want to help you be the most successful pastor/person you can be.
I’m going to blog, vlog, podcast, teach, train, coach, and counsel everyone that wants to come along for some of the best in leadership training. We’ll build a huge depository of material together. Plus, I will keep Christ at the core.
We’re starting this journey in November (2017)—though you can join anytime—sign up now by clicking on this link. The cost is free. Free? Free. I may charge for it one day, but for now it’s free. I normally charge between $300—$1500 per hour for executive coaching (depending on size of company or church), so free is an awesome price. Why free? It’s my way of giving back. Having been a youth leader and worship leader, and having worked with some pretty needy pastor/leaders, I want to help youth leaders get all the training I didn’t get when I was young—and all the leadership mentoring they’re not getting currently. Plus, if you like what you read, hear, and see, hopefully I might have an opportunity to work with you and your church to build relationships, community, grow your church, and ultimately the kingdom.
So—sign up now and let’s get started. Several times per week we’ll put some great training in your email that will help you be better than the day before. It’s proven that those that start now are the ones who succeed—and those who wait? It’s the Law of Diminishing Intent which says, “The longer you wait to do something you should do now, the greater the odds that you will never actually do it.” Time to Level Up!
Do it now.
Looking forward to working with you.
Author & Founder
THE CARIS GROUP
I spend all my time teaching leadership in one way or another—it’s my passion and career. Along with extensive business and leadership training, I am part of the John Maxwell Team and have been mentored for many years by John Maxwell—voted the #1 leadership expert by Inc. Magazine, The American Management Association, and Gurus.com, author of over 85 books on leadership and personal growth, pastor, teacher, speaker. I have been a CEO for over 60% of my work life. I worked with youth for many years and was a worship leader for over 30 years. I understand church culture. I have struggled under bad church leadership and succeeded under good church leadership. I’ve even succeeded under bad church management. I work with churches, businesses, and individuals on all aspects of leadership, personal growth, and understanding personality and human behavior. I train and mentor staff to aspire and achieve Level 4 and 5 leadership skills so they can build their teams and congregations to live the gospel and grow their people, their church, and ultimately—the kingdom. I am also an author, international speaker, teacher, executive coach with the John Maxwell Team, and Certified Behavioral Specialist. I have been married for 39 years with five adult children.