Leading in Youth Ministry

Leading in Youth Ministry

Since the winter of 2009, I have had the blessing and privilege to work with Crosspoint’s youth. I have walked alongside some of our current senior girls since they were in middle school.  It is truly humbling and a blessing to me personally. 
Serving as a youth leader for these girls since my freshmen year of college, I have found this familiar capacity can lead me to try to serve in my own abilities independent from the Lord.  Our student ministry staff team is currently reading through Christian Counseling and Education Foundations compilation of “must read” articles on parenting.  A recent article titled “What is ‘Success’ in Parenting Teens” written by Paul David Tripp reminded me that the true “key to being used by God with our children (students) is to start with your own heart.”  Building upon this thought, the article reminds me that teenagers are more like me than they are unlike me.
Often, I get frustrated when my students are unresponsive to the Gospel. It is difficult to see them seeking wisdom from the world, being impatient, or selfish.  Then, reality hits me.  I am sinful too.  Life experience and ministry experience has not freed me from sin.  I need the gospel, because the Gospel of Christ is what draws me near to the Lord, not my own fabricated wisdom or experience.
So how does this transform the way I relate to our students and leaders?  First, it leads me to personal repentance and prayer.  I am desperately in need of my Savior, just as desperate as my students.  In order to lead and serve the students and leaders in our youth group, I must first draw near to the Lord.  Through personal times of prayer and repentance of my own sins, I am drawn near to Jesus.
Secondly, in relating to students,  I must view my sin and circumstances in the light of “the person and character of the God of the Bible.” In Job 28 God is speaking to Job on his infinite wisdom following a season of deep suffering.  This wisdom reminds Job of God’s character and power over creation and that ultimately all things are used to bring about his purposes.   I was amazed by the beautiful poetry in Job, taking me to the deepest parts of creation and then bringing me before the Lord as the true source of wisdom. 
 “God understands the way to it,
            and he knows its place.
 For he looks to the ends of the earth
            and sees everything under the heavens.
When he gave to the wind its weight
            and apportioned the waters by measure,
when he made a decree for the rain
            and a way for the lightning of the thunder,
then he saw it and declared it;
            he established it, and searched it out.
And he said to man,
            ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
            and to turn away from evil is understanding.’”        Job 28:23-28 ESV
In all aspects of my life, I need the wisdom of God to guide me, that he might be glorified rather than myself.
Lastly, the gospel enables me to be authentic with my life.  Students desire authentic relationships.  As my life is transformed through repentance, prayer and the Word of God, I am able to confess sin before my students and leaders demonstrating the genuine aspects of my life in Christ.   This transparency helps me model how the Gospel frees me from the bondage of sin and allows me to experience the grace of God in everyday life.
To be an effective leader, experience is valuable, but living a life constantly surrendered to the Gospel of Christ is essential.
By:  Sammi Fife