As I travel and meet with youth pastors across the country, they always ask, “How do you get your leaders or how did you build your leadership team?” Contrary to popular belief, 99.9% of them don’t show up at my doorstep begging to be leaders in the youth group. I still have to recruit and work to retain them. But where does it all begin? The foundation of building a successful leadership team has to start with you – living out a relationship with God and a life committed to ministry.

In John 8:29 Jesus said, I always do what pleases the Father. His ultimate commitment was to belong to the Father, and out of that He began His ministry. It’s so easy in ministry to not let this one get shoved to the back of the bus. I know it’s a war to keep our prayer life meaningful, our quiet times meaningful, and our relationship with God fresh. But it’s a non-negotiable part of this life we call ministry. Watchman Nee once said that many times we begin ministry in the spirit, but as the weeks and years go on we find ourselves maintaining it in the flesh. We’re all guilty of being tempted to punt spiritually, but I would encourage you to keep asking yourself – am I, in the private moments of my life, living the lifestyle that I am calling others to?

Not only do we have to model our relationship with God, but we have to model grassroots ministry for them too. Obviously, as you continue on in youth ministry, your time begins to go more to your leaders; that’s natural. But you must work to have core kids in your life that keep you fresh and relevant. After all these years, I still spend about 15% of my time with those teenagers who I’m trying to make Jesus look good to; maybe they’re not saved yet, or just recently committed their life to the Lord. These are the kids that will tell you when your outfit maybe isn’t as stylish as you once thought…they’ll stand you up for appointments…and they’ll keep your spirit and heart soft as you watch them walk to an altar and make commitments for the Lord. They are my constant reminder of the life – changing power of Christ, and my connection to an ever – changing teenage culture. Who are those teenagers in your life? As you begin to build a leadership team, remember you can never expect those around you to live Christianity or ministry beyond the level that you model it yourself. Where do leadership teams begin…they begin with you.

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