The only “unintentional growth” that ever happens in my life is measured by the scale located on my bathroom floor. If I’m not paying attention, that scale will rudely remind me that I’ve been taking one (or two or three…) too many trips to the fridge every day. Weight gain may happen by default, but if you want to grow as a leader you have to be intentional.

You won’t grow well by remaining inside the walls of your church or your denomination. Sit with other leaders in your community, ask them questions, and learn from their successes and failures. If you’re not a reader, plug into the podcast world. If you are reader, here are two recommendations on how to read:

1) Read books written by people with whom you don’t fully agree. No one grows by simply having all their presuppositions and biases coddled and confirmed. Embrace some humility and teach-ability when it comes to your opinions on leadership, church and theology—there’s plenty left to learn. Some of the convictions you hold today, you didn’t hold five years ago—and you may not hold them five years from now. If that’s not true of you then you might not be reading broadly enough.

2) Read books having nothing to do with “ministry.” This accomplishes two things. First it keeps you from becoming a total bore to everyone who isn’t also interested in the cultural background of Ephesus or the meaning of a random Hebrew word. Your un-churched neighbors don’t care about that stuff, but they might have a conversation with you about a book you read on cooking or the Civil War. Be interesting—it’s often an overlooked requirement for relational evangelism. Secondly, you’ll gain relatable material for sermons and in the process you might just learn something interesting about this amazing world that our God has created.

You can also grow by finding and/or hiring a personal coach. This is someone who asks you helpful questions on a regular basis. One final way to grow is by attending training events. Youth Specialties’ NYWC, Simply Youth Ministry Conference, Catalyst, Orange Conference and Jeanne Mayo’s NYLC are just some of the regional/national options. Certainly there will be opportunities closer to home. Whichever approach you take, be sure to grow on purpose!

David Hertweck serves the Assemblies of God in New York as the state youth director. He has been involved in local church youth ministry since 1999. You can check out his resources here.