What would happen if you stopped doing what normal youth workers do?
Normal youth workers make no effort learning to organize their time or get along with senior pastors and elder boards. Normal youth workers know more about the Xbox than about exegesis. Normal youth pastors are on the fast track to shallowness, burnout and premature resignation.
We need more than normal. We need “Uncommon Leaders” in youth ministry today, leaders who stay around for the long haul, build sustainable ministries, and actually enjoy their work more as they get older. Uncommon Leaders makes three decisions:
1) Resilience Over Resentment.
If you’ve observed a growing pattern of pessimism and negativity among youth workers today, you’re not alone. Some youth workers, it seems, feel entitled to being touchy and defensive when difficulty or criticism comes their way.
But the Uncommon Leader is never surprised that the church is “political,” that senior pastors don’t seem to “get” youth ministry, or that parents who want their kids to want to come to church can step into attack mode long before they have the whole story. Uncommon Leaders know that getting knocked down is just a part of the game. And they respond by getting back up, not with bitterness and cynicism.
2) Initiative Over Inferiority.
Many youth workers have grown comfortable with the self-pitying image of youth ministers as the runt of the litter on any church staff. And some youth workers seem to find comfort in feeling victimized when the custodian suggests that the Monday morning clean up disaster was might have been caused by the youth group.
But the Uncommon Leader is willing to admit (without playing the victim) that 90% of the time when a custodian blames the youth, the shoe fits. Uncommon Leaders don’t whine that they have no power in the church’s decision-making process; instead they take initiative to build strategic alliances with those who know exactly how the process works and how to work those processes to the benefit of both the youth ministry and the entire church.
3) Uncommon Over Common Time Management.
Strangely, Uncommon Leaders find time to be alone with God, time to be with their families, time to read, time to exercise, time to meet with a mentor, time to think strategically about ministry. They have time for the most important priorities, even if they may not be the most urgent.
Uncommon Leaders work hard to become exceptional time managers, and they learn to do as a matter of course those things that normal leaders simply find too inconvenient. They make sure they do the 20% of the work that produces 80% of the results before even starting on the 80% of the items on their to-do lists that bring about only 20% of the results.
So go ahead, be uncommon in your hair, your clothes, your tattoos or your piercings, but first make sure that you choose the ministry-sustaining, life-transforming habits practiced only by the Uncommon Leader.