Vulnerability is something that isn’t necessarily overflowing in ministry circles. Sure, there are “those” people who over-share in community youth ministry Facebook groups. If we look at youth workers as a whole, there isn’t a lot of vulnerability.
I’m going to try and break the mold a bit here and be vulnerable.A question that I have been wrestling with recently is simple but has been very challenging: “Am I leading well?”
Of course, my initial response is, “Well, yeah!” Then it usually fades to something like, “Well yeah, for the most part.” After a bit of pondering, I finally land in the extreme of, “Oh man! I am the worst leader ever!”
Now, I know that last one isn’t accurate, but the question of whether I’m leading well still challenges me. I think about my family, my wife and my 3 sons. Am I leading them well? Am I being the dad and husband that I need to be? Do they feel like I’m leading them well? I also think about my ministry. Am I leading well at church? I sure hope so. I can’t be sure, but signs point to yes.
But how do I really know?
Self-reflection depends on asking questions about yourself, so here are 4 questions that we need to consider when evaluating whether or not we are leading well within our ministry context.
- Am I successful? This one opens a can of worms, I know. Success is usually the first place everyone points when labeling a good leader or a bad leader. When we are looking at ourselves, we must first define success. In youth ministry, success can simply mean that we are executing the vision that we have cast. With that, am I successful?
- Am I investing in people over programs? This is simple on paper, but it gets more difficult when you have programs to run and (sometimes) difficult people to deal with. In order to be a good leader, we can’t be so focused on the bottom line or pulling off a great event that we run over or ignore the people in our lives. In the end, people are the only thing that matters in our ministries. That’s what we are called to do. The more we invest in people, the more we execute our call in ministry. On the flipside, if we are investing in people and truly taking care of those around us, our programs will probably be more successful (or die out because we shouldn’t have been doing them in the first place).
- Are there people who are following me? Do you have followers? I’m not talking about Twitter here. I heard someone say that “the best way to know if you are leading well is to look over your shoulder.” Good leaders have people following them because people want to follow a good leader. Bad leaders don’t exist because nobody follows a bad leader. Who is following you?
- Am I raising up new leaders? This is probably my favorite one. This might be the one that takes you to the next level as a leader. At Orange Conference one year, Reggie Joiner said, “A great leader is the one pushing someone else into the spotlight.” Who are you pushing into the spotlight? Hand off ministry to your small group leaders. Create opportunities for your students to serve within their giftings. Take on an intern that you can invest in. Raise up new leaders.
I told you that I was going to be vulnerable. Here it is. Most of these questions, I can answer yes to. But honestly, I would say that I put programs over people too often. I don’t think I’m investing into those who follow me as much as I could. I’ve got some priorities to shift around.
Let’s make a commitment to lead well. When we lead well, we care about people and we empower others to lead well.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: JOHNATHAN BALDWIN
Johnathan is a youth pastor at Central Ministries who loves his wife, Sara, his 3 boys, youth ministry, sports, summertime, great coffee (depending on the situation, not so great coffee works too), his dog (Marcie), and, as of lately, a good book. Over the past couple years, Johnathan has felt a growing passion for guiding and empowering leaders. He believes that if we call people to greatness, they will achieve greatness.