The Disciplines of a Multiplying Youth Pastor: Attract and Optimize Talent

I believe youth pastors have two primary constituents in their ministries: the students they shepherd and the volunteers with whom they work. I would love to include two other groups with which the youth pastor regularly interacts (the parents and the other pastors), but these blogs would end up being far too lengthy.

I think youth pastors too often take for granted their volunteers and do not see the volunteers, whether they’re college students or senior citizens, as constituents of the youth ministry.

Volunteers participate in youth groups for much more than babysitting students and getting free coffee. While some volunteers may serve out of a sense of obligation or something similar, I believe strongly that it is the job of the youth pastor to not only minister to his students but also his volunteers.

The first discipline of a multiplier:

Attract and Optimize Talent

In a bit of a summary of this discipline, Wiseman writes, “The Diminisher is an Empire Builder. The Multiplier is a Talent Magnet” (p. 21)

How, then, does this work in the ministry of a youth pastor? I think it would be best to look at how this affects each facet of the youth pastor’s ministry individually.

The Youth Pastor and the Students

How does a youth pastor attract and optimize talent in relation to the shepherding of his students? First, it must be noted that, while it might be easily done, your mind should not jump immediately to evangelism as “attracting talent.” In evangelism, that isn’t exactly the point

So what does this mean then? How does a youth pastor attract and optimize the talent of his students? I think a youth pastor can do this in a number of ways:

Leadership: A youth pastor ought to be keenly aware of the gifts his students posses and how those gifts might be used for the glory of God through the group as a whole and the spiritual maturity of the group moving forward. It is right and good to attempt to instill the value of leadership into a student who doesn’t even remotely look like a leader, even more so a youth pastor must be on the lookout for students whom God has gifted with the ability to lead.

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When I was in high school, I began to realize I had the ability to influence and lead people. If it weren’t for God giving me the wise leadership of a number of men in my youth group, namely my youth pastor, I would have either used my God-given ability to lead maliciously, or I would have squandered it altogether.

Youth pastors, find the leadership qualities in your students and do everything in your power to direct those energies and talents into youth group functions (small groups, mentorship programs, etc.).

Musical Abilities: I was in a youth ministry class in college and the youth pastor who taught the class proudly told us about how he assigned a young lady in his youth group the role of lead singer in their worship band after the girl repeatedly told him she couldn’t sing and had no desire to do so—he told her that God could do anything through her so she ought to trust him.

I found this to be quite confusing. I thought, “Why not encourage a different student in your group who likes to sing and would jump at the opportunity for more experience?” God has uniquely gifted some, at least one or two, in your group with the ability to play a musical instrument or make beautiful music with their voice alone. Find these talents and these passions and optimize them for the glory of God and the service of your youth group!

Service: God has graciously blessed many with the desire and ability to serve others in whatever capacity is needed, no matter how dumb, dirty, or dangerous it may be. I admire these people, because I certainly am not one of them. I am ashamed to admit that I am not always willing to serve others in whatever ways they need.

I hate moving from one place to another. I have had many opportunities in the past to help friends move and I haven’t taken them because I’m a selfish sinner who often cares more about doing what I want than serving others.

Youth pastor, there are a number of students in your youth group who LOVE serving and getting their hands dirty. Don’t ignore this gift—find it, develop it, and share it for the benefit of those in your church and your community.

These three gifts that I listed are only a few of the many that your students likely possess.

Youth pastor, to must attract these people and these talents and optimize them so that God may be glorified in them. Attract these students and their talents to the gospel and to the service of the kingdom of God, not to yourself and your agenda.

The Youth Pastor and the Volunteers

This one is pretty straightforward. A multiplying youth pastor has to have volunteers because he cannot be everywhere at once. In order for a pastor to multiply disciples among the students God has given him to shepherd, the youth pastor needs help. It is imperative, youth pastor, that you find the right help. Finding help is good, and you may be so desperate that you’ll “take anyone you can get.”

Some folks just aren’t cut out for youth ministry, in a volunteer capacity or otherwise. This isn’t a problem—different people are gifted in different ways. But youth pastor, any leaders won’t do. You need the right leaders for your youth group. Attract gifted volunteers to serve your students and learn how to make your gifted volunteers flourish in the ministry God has given you to lead.

God has given you these students at this time for a reason. You will be held accountable for how you have shepherded these students when you face your God in heaven. Don’t make yourself have to answer the question: “Why did you let a wolf help you lead my children?”

Conclusion

Youth pastors, find the talents in your students, facilitate their improvement, and use them for the glory of God and the betterment of your flock.

Hunt the eligible, RIGHT volunteer leaders in your church and co-lead your students with other people who want to multiply the gifts of your students and the number of your students so that God may be glorified and the gospel may be proclaimed.

Take a moment and pray for the Lord to reveal to you how your students are gifted and how you can enrich their giftedness for his glory. This is difficult, you cannot do it on your own. Ask for the Lord’s help.

Tomorrow, come on back and we’ll go over the second discipline of a multiplying youth pastor.

-Chris

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The Disciplines of a Multiplying Youth Pastor

I must confess: I have never, ever been a youth pastor.

Not once have I held a position in a church that includes the duties of shepherding young people into and through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Not once have I attended elder meetings to talk about budgeting and church mission and vision.

Not once have I sat down with a set of hurting parents whose child has lost his or her way and simply seems beyond the point of no return in regards to being a child of God.

Not once have I had to confront a student on the serious matters of suicide or cutting or any other self-inflicting action.

Never ever have I done any of these things. I am not, and have never been, a youth pastor…

BUT, I’ve been around a few youth pastors!

I aspire to be a pastor myself, whether it be a youth pastor or otherwise, and I have spent a lot of time preaching to and leading small groups with students of various ages and stages of life.

I am so thankful for the opportunities I have had to minister to students of all ages over the last five years or so. I have learned so much from the men and women I have served under and with, and I hope to carry all of those experiences, the good and the bad, into the vocational pastorate sometime in the not-too-distant future.

In addition to being a youth pastor, I have never been a business executive.

Not once have I approved or denied the expense reports of my employees.

Not once have I led a meeting of my peers in route to accomplishing a goal of “x” percent sales increase.

Not once have I traveled with a briefcase and a number of suits in tow on the way to numerous business meetings in a foreign country.

No once have I celebrated a promotion with my wife that will surely lead to the purchase of the land on which we will build our new house.

Never ever have I done any of these things. I am not, and never have been, a business executive…

BUT, I just started reading a book called Multipliers by Liz Wiseman, and I am confident that the principles she applies to business leaders in this book can be applied to the youth pastor today.

multipliersbookcover

Over the course of the next few days I want to outline the principles she shares in this volume and do what I can to shed some light on how the average youth pastor might be able to apply these principles to his ministry to students of all ages.

Like I said, I’ve never been a youth pastor, so a lot of what I write will simply be based on general knowledge of ministry and how students and leadership works. I am not speaking from experience, which needs to be duly noted.

In short, Liz Wiseman defines a “multiplier” as a leader who has the ability to see the knowledge, talents, and expertise of those with who he works and develop them into greater employees than they were previously.

Wiseman then defines the opposite, a “diminisher” as a leader who sees himself as smarter than everyone he works with and actually hinders the professional development of those who work for him.

Her explanations of these two types of leaders are much deeper than the summaries I just presented, but you get the point: multipliers = good leaders who cause their subordinates to flourish, and diminishers = bad leaders who cause their subordinates to wither.

In her text, Wiseman is most concerned, it seems (I have not finished the book), with how these tendencies are observed in corporate, business atmospheres, which makes sense.

In chapter one of Multipliers, Wiseman presents five disciplines of multipliers, and I would like to take these five disciplines or principles and apply them to youth pastors.

Check back in on the blog over the course of the next few days to see what Wiseman says about how a leader can be a “multiplier” and not a “diminisher.”

-Chris