We lead people. That is what we do.

More often than not, the term pastor in our leadership role in youth ministry is interchangeable with words such as leader or director. In fact, that might be the title that is on your door or card. We direct students, volunteers and our paid staff. We lead ministries, programs and events. People look to us to show them direction, the way, and quite honestly a way to move forward. However, in our leadership by taking on all these tasks, are we in the end not really teaching them to lead? Maybe it is because we have not learned away in our way of leadership.

Layaway

Similar to putting a Christmas gift on layaway, we put a small initial investment in a leader now and slowly keep putting in small investments until they are ready to take on more leadership. We constantly need to be looking for gifts in and for others. We should seek to discover amazing over-the-top gifts in those around us and then patiently be invest in them. We too often have this idea that we have to discover an amazing gift and immediately have to find a way to use it. Instead, we need to think long-term investment and use when it comes to gifts. In the end, as we invest in other, we also begin to invest in our leadership so we can be ready to give away.

Giveaway

Giveaway immediately brings to mind something cheap and without much value that is added on as a bonus to the real thing you are getting. You know, “Buy this 5-piece living room set this weekend, and we’ll throw in an off-brand 32-inch flatscreen!” You get it home, and the TV lasts three months before it quits working in the middle of the Big Game.

Isn’t that how we feel, though, when it comes to the idea that when someone tells us to give away some our leadership and responsibilities? We have this idea that it’s a nice thought, but a secondary thing in leadership. Besides, when we give away leadership to someone else, we know that things are going to fall apart or fail at the Big Moment. Then what are people going to think? However, as a leader, one core of what we should do is give away to other leaders and allow them to shine.

True leadership is not about us being the one who shines in those big moments, but others because we were willing to step away and get away.

Getaway

We somehow got it in our heads that the youth program needs our leadership, and we have to play Keep Away with it. We become possessive and hold our roles and responsibilities at arm’s length, almost telling others to get away and stay away. Instead, if we are truly leading well, we are set to get away. We have been laying away the gifts of others while investing in them all along. We have been willing to give away key moments, allowing people opportunities to learn and succeed all along. In the end, we can get away to relax and refresh, coming back ready to start the cycle again while also stepping back in as a leader with fellow leaders.

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About The Author

DAN ISTVANIK is a 22 year youth ministry veteran currently as the 5th-8th grade pastor at Victory Church in Lancaster, PA. He has served in churches in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Washington DC. He is the lead writer for Parent Ministry.Com and a regular contributor to other great ministry resources. He has been married for over 16 years to his partner in ministry, Melissa. Together they have two children. Jenna and Kaleb.

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