This year my friend Jonathan McKee has become a regular guest blogger on this site and I’m so grateful. I’m away on vacation this week and I asked him to do a 4-part series on what he looks for when hiring a youth pastor! It’s very solid! Jonathan is the author of numerous books including the brand new Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent, as well as youth ministry books like Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation. You can find his excellent blog here.

Yesterday we kicked off the 7 Qualities I’m Looking for Hiring a Youth Pastor. In that post, I quickly stated a “given” that the person needs to demonstrate a strong walk with God through a growing personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Once laying that foundation, I suggested the first quality that churches should look for. I encourage you to read that post. Today, I provide two more.

2. Self-Starter

A senior pastor doesn’t want to have to hold the youth pastor’s hand every day. Yes, you want your youth pastor to be teachable, but that doesn’t imply they need to stand around waiting for their pastor or supervisor to tell them what to do each minute of the day.

You want a self-starter. When Doug Fields and I were talking about this post, he said, “I highly value someone with initiative. I’d rather have initiative and failure than no initiative.” I like that! That describes a self-starter.

Self-starters have a clear vision and don’t need to be told each task to accomplish that vision. Sure, they might meet with their supervisor once a week to review their goals and the tasks they’ve been doing to accomplish those goals, but most supervisors don’t want to have to spell out each hour of the day. Most youth pastors are fine with this, because they would prefer to not be micromanaged.

This is a delicate balance. I’ve seen youth pastors who literally never check in with a superior. They run their own ship and steer it where they desire. On the other hand, I’ve seen senior pastors who hold the puppet strings and control the youth pastor’s every move. Neither extreme is good. And youth pastors need to interview the church hiring them just as much as the other way around. No youth pastor wants to be put in either polar extreme.

Healthy churches need to hire self-starters, and then manage with an open hand. Supervisors should provide accountability and support, but not meddle in every detail.

This situation becomes even easier when the youth pastor has the next quality…

3. Follow Through

It’s as simple as this: the person does what they say they are gonna do.
I’ve gotta be honest. This quality is rare. And I find it to be an issue of integrity. Some people don’t mean “yes” when they say “yes.”

In Psalm 15 David outlines the qualities of the person who is righteous and blameless. He describes the person who…

who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind… (Psalm 15:4b, NIV)

In his leadership workshops, my dad cites this area as the number one leadership quality he looks for in both secular and Christian circles. “They don’t just plan, but follow through with that plan,” he suggests. “Most people fail in this area.”
We need to hire people who follow through. When they set goals, they show a track record of achieving those goals. This is easy to discover in an interview by asking behavior-based questions, using past behaviors to determine future results (we use this kind of interview approach on our sample job interview guide on our web site)

When interviewing potential youth pastors, ask:

1.Describe some youth ministry goals you set in the past and how you accomplished those goals.
2.Describes some personal goals you set and how you accomplished those goals.
3.What are some goals you set that you weren’t able to achieve and why do you think that happened?

When we hire people who are not only self-starters, but who also follow through, we take huge strides toward making their supervisor’s job much easier. This self-disciplined person doesn’t need micro-management, they just need accountability and encouragement.

More qualities coming! Stay tuned in this blog!

Question:What about you?
Which of these qualities cited so far do you find the most important?
Which of these qualities are the most difficult to find? Share your thoughts here.

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