You are a youth worker, which means you are a pastor, a counselor, a teacher, an event planner, a parent engager, a calendar organizer, and a pizza purchaser. You are also a cheerleader. In fact you can make an argument that you are (or should be) mostly a cheerleader. This month we’ve been looking at the basics of team building which include:
Enlisting, Equipping, Empowering & Encouraging
It’s a cycle; a never-ending cycle. And part of that cycle is your role as a cheerleader. Lots of youth workers make the mistake of underestimating the importance of encouraging their team. Because enlisting, equipping and empowering yield tangible results, something that bears less immediate fruit is tempting to neglect. But don’t…please don’t!
In my 25-plus years of youth ministry I’ve never heard a volunteer on my team complain that they are over-encouraged. I’ve never had one say to me, “Hey Kurt, can you please quit cheering me on? I’d like to feel a little less supported for a change.” But to the contrary I’ve heard lots of people on my team say things like, “I feel alone in my efforts.” or “I don’t feel like you are in my corner when I need you.” or “I’m frustrated and don’t know where to go for help.” I’ve never lost a volunteer due to a sense of too much support, but sadly I’ve lost more than a few because they didn’t feel like they were getting enough.
Here are a few ways to get your cheer on:
- Write hand-written notes and cards. In this age of text messages, Instagram, and Facebook, the hand-written note is a lost art. An easy way to encourage somebody on your team is to take the time to drop a note in the mail.
- Hall Pass. Create a little “hall pass” that you spontaneously hand to an unsuspecting volunteer from time to time at the beginning of your youth program. Include a Starbucks card and send them on their way! Wait, am I suggesting you allow somebody on your team to ditch youth group? Yep, that’s exactly what I’m suggesting.
- Be available. Return calls, emails and text messages in a timely manner. Make lots of coffee appointments. Let your leaders know your office hours so they can pop-in unannounced; if your schedule is so full that your teammates need to make an appointment three weeks in advance, you are busy doing the wrong stuff!
- Affirm them publicly; correct them privately. This is one of the oldest, but best, “tricks” in the book! Nothing is more encouraging than a public word of praise, and nothing feels worse than a public beatdown.
You, my friend, are a cheerleader. Go grab your pom-poms.
- Kurt / @kurtjohnston