4 PRACTICAL IDEAS FOR DEVELOPING YOUTH AS LEADERS
Youth are not only the leaders of the future – they are the leaders of today!
How can we impart a sense of destiny to these young men and women, inspire and disciple them in faith, co-create a missional community with them, and equip them with a ministry skill set that will last them the rest of their lives?
Let’s explore a few practical ideas for getting behind the young leaders in our lives, in our homes, and in our churches.
1. Identify Their Gifts
2. Make Mentors Available
3. Surround Them With Friends
4. Give Them Room To Grow
1ST IDEA – IDENTIFY THEIR GIFTS
Identify their gifts.
We often find what we’re actually looking for – and we can both find and identify unique gifts of influence in the young people around us if our eyes, ears, and spirits are attentive.
Sometimes, a gift is obvious in a young person.
We may see evident leadership (expressed positively or negatively) at an early age. We may see impressive musical ability, acute intellectual strength, or a capacity in a young person to act compassionately.
Or we may see a unique ability in a teenager to act in a natural, comfortable, pastoral manner with their peers.
Some gifts are not so obvious, and intentionally working to identity the gifts in youth is a necessary practice for those who care about their future.
Be attentive, and with parents involved, ask God to show you who each youth in your sphere of connection truly is – and who God is calling them to be.
2ND IDEA – MAKE MENTORS AVAILABLE
Make mentors available.
When possible, invite young people into situations where they are simply rubbing shoulders with greatness in older people – greatness that you would like to see rub off on them.
That greatness may be in Christ-like character, wisdom, or in a particular skill or ministry ability.
Storytelling sessions with older, wise people in the faith, or with musicians or people who are walking firmly in their area of gifting, can all inspire youth for a lifetime to walk toward their own callings from God.
Intentionally create these life-to-life scenarios, and specifically look for opportunities connect youth with mentors who match with their unique gift mix.
Then, be one of those mentors. Lay down your life to see that young leader rise.
3RD IDEA – SURROUND THEM WITH FRIENDS
Surround them with friends.
The peer group doing the teenage years holds tremendous sway in the direction a young person’s life can take.
Create situations where passionate, serious young people are having memorable, sacred experiences together.
Get them playing music in worship circles, caring for the poor together, attending big events, and serving others in the church and community.
The bonding that can take place in arena’s of affinity connection or selfless service to others are hard to break.
Make their shared, joyful memories together and with you anchor points for them as they move through the turbulent years of the teens.
4TH IDEA – GIVE THEM ROOM TO GROW
Give them room to grow.
Finally, put away the cookie cutter.
Each child, and each generation, has a calling to embody the faith in their own, unique way. While the message remains the same, the Gospel, the methodologies that emerge in each generation can change for expressing the message and even living it out.
Get behind at least a few of their crazy ideas (help them experiment in ways that have low consequences if things go wrong), instead of imposing your ideas or those of your generation on them.
You may find that they are best equipped to discern fresh ways of impacting their world. If that scares you, get someone else, closer to their age, to help you get behind them as they grow.
Try at least one idea for the next time you meet.
- Never underestimate the power of your words, and the words of others, to inspire youth to be who they were designed to be.
- Pray for them regularly, and get entire teams of intercessors focusing on the youth in your community.
- Aim at them with love and a call to be like Jesus, get behind their unique passions, and push them out of the nest. It means everything to the next generation coming to know Christ.
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