Preparing Potential Leaders to be Successful

Micah Renck February 21, 2020

Young Life teams are always looking for potential new leaders. In this search, it can be tempting to say “yes” to everyone who expresses interest in leading—especially when the demand for leaders is high.

Being a Young Life leader is a deeply rewarding experience, but it’s often very different than expected.

Young Life leadership can be fun and open doors for friendships and challenge people to walk closer with their savior.

But leadership also means spending lots of time pursuing students and putting on events. It means rejection by students who don’t know how to be loved. It means being part of a team with other people who are also tired and need Jesus. Leadership is not as glamorous as a camp promo video—and clarifying these realities with future leaders before they commit is essential to the sustainability and health of our teams.

So, how can we set potential leaders up to be successful before they commit?

Below are some suggestions for preparing future leaders before they ever join the team. Seeing leaders align themselves with these aspects of leadership is a strong indication that they’re healthy and able to commit.

As you begin looking to grow your team, here are some conversations to have with potential leaders: 

  1. Ask leaders about their rhythms of rest. Do they regularly make time to be still and know that He is God?
    If leaders regularly schedule in time for rest, stillness, and silence in God’s presence, it allows them regular opportunities to be filled up after pouring out into students. These rhythms of rest set them up for leading from a place of being full, rather than one of depletion or exhaustion.
  2. Clarify the time commitment. It’s easy to be excited about what God’s doing in Young Life. It’s another thing to have consistent time to invest. Before asking leaders to commit, outline each weekly and monthly commitment that will be required of them. How much time do these items take? Then, ask them to prayerfully consider whether they can sustainably and healthily say “yes” to the time commitment.
  3. Ask potential leaders to plug into community.
    Leaders may look to a Young Life team for friendship or community. While there is nothing wrong with finding friends in a leadership context, it’s also critical to be connected with a local church (and, ideally, a small group or Bible study). Help potential leaders feed their desire for community in a way that allows them to be poured into (and doesn’t place unrealistic expectations on the team).
  4. Set the expectation—in love—that leadership is about what the Lord asks us to give, not what we wish to gain.
    Leadership can be deeply rewarding. What better reward for our labor than to see young people encounter their Savior and His love? Helping young people meet Jesus must be the goal, though, rather than what we seek to personally gain by leading.
  5. Challenge future leaders to let their “yes” be “yes”.As believers, we have the opportunity to reflect our Father who always keeps His promises. When we encourage future leaders in this commitment—not from a place of guilt or shame, but from the chance to look more like Jesus—we prepare them to see God show up, even in places they feel ill-equipped. Encourage leaders that their “yes” is a chance to show a world of broken promises what our God is like.

Using these conversations to identify future leaders may refine the number of people ready to commit, but our teams will be stronger for it.

And, thank goodness our teams are not defined by numbers! We serve a God of multiplication who delights in showing up for his people.

By clarifying commitments and expectations with leaders before they say “yes”, we prioritize having a healthy, sustainable team committed to pursuing Jesus first and foremost.

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