Matt and I wrote an article for Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox. You can check out the full piece on and here’s a clip:

What are four things you can’t get enough of?

1 — More time with your family
2 — More sleep
3 — More caffeine
4 — More overnight events

OK, so it didn’t make a list of the top four things we need, but as youth workers one thing we all want is student leadership. We’ve got some volunteers, and we’re passionately leading the way, but we would love to have some of our youth accept God’s call to lead our ministries. We’ve all read those “youth” stories in the Bible — you know, David, Jeremiah, Timothy, Samuel — and we sincerely believe God wants to use people early in life, but getting there is difficult.

As youth workers, we strongly believe that students can make a real difference in the world. They aren’t just the church of tomorrow; they are the church of today. At least, that is what we hope we can train them to become.

Our hope to develop young leaders through the youth in our church is only eclipsed by our struggle to unlock their zeal. There’s nothing more painful than seeing the wasted potential of those entrusted to our care or a life mired early by guilt and shame. It can be a pit of despair for most youth workers, but I’m here to say there’s hope.

The hope isn’t in the outspoken ones who show up to everything. We all have a few “natural leaders,” who rise to the challenge. And if you don’t have youth like that, you at least have regular students who are fun to be around, and you can count on them to do some basic ministry tasks. But biblical leadership, and therefore our calling, isn’t limited to equipping the cute, fun, or popular — much less the kids that attend every single event. They aren’t student leaders; they’re stalkers.

We are called to prepare all of our students for the work of the ministry. It’s a daunting task, but one that must be attempted if we’re to adequately prepare the church. To that end, here are a few practical ideas to help jump-start some of the leadership potential in your students and take your ministry to the next level.