What teenager is currently sitting in your ministry waiting for someone like you to believe in him/her?

Probably a lot more than you’d imagine! I was one of those guys (and it’s not because of the 70’s perm)!

Everyone wants to be invited somewhere? No one wants to be left alone?

Please know that I realize developing young leaders is not as simple or formulaic as I will lay out (below), but it’s exactly what my youth pastor did to me when I was in 9th grade, and it’s what I’ve tried to do with many others over the last 30 years.

These are some general actions:

1. Develop relationships. It all starts here.

2. Spend a little extra time with those who express interest/promise/potential.

3. Invite them into your world of ministry and ask them to help/participate with something you’re doing. Could be an activity, a conference, a Bible study, a task, etc…

4. Assign a specific job for them to meet within your ministry (basically, invite them to ‘take on a responsibility.’)

5. Debrief and evaluate their

[job] performance as well as their feelings connected to the serving opportunity. Follow-up is essential.

6. Expose and connect them with other leaders (young and old).

7. Dream with them (“What are some needs/causes/interests that you’re especially drawn toward?”). Obviously this requires more time together.

8. Challenge them to move toward an area of interest/passion.

9. Watch them.

10. Set them loose to see a need and meet it.

Again, developing young leaders is not a science nor even following this 10-step process (I just know that people like to practical action-steps to consider)… developing leaders is more of an art–a relational art.

I’m less concerned about you taking specific steps and more concerned that you don’t allow kids to sit on the sideline. Invite them off the bench and into the game. Give them opportunities to serve, seek significance, and invest in stuff that matters.

Bottom line: Invite kids to something bigger than themselves. Give kids a chance!

Invite them out of apathy. Be specific. Call them by name. Believe in them. Convince them that they’ve got something to offer. Help them see that they’re not ‘excess human baggage.’

I’m so glad that Jim Burns took these steps with me in the late 70’s and offered me an opportunity to “taste” ministry. I did. I’ve never been the same.

That’s just one of the many reasons I’m so excited for the opportunity to teach some of your kids about Student Leadership. Why don’t you invite a few kids to join you this summer at our leadership conference in either Southern CA (July 6-8) or Philadelphia (July 11-13). I’d love to see you!

Someone is waiting for you to believe in them.

Questions: What am I missing that is a regular part of what you’re doing to develop young leaders? Share it here.

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