If your church has an org chart chances are, like in most churches, the role of youth worker probably falls somewhere in the middle of the pack. Sure, there are a few folks above you, and a few below but your role as youth worker is probably somewhere in the crowded middle…depending on the size of your church, of course.
Oftentimes it can be tough to figure out how to “lead up” or have organizational influence when your position in the organization doesn’t typically lend itself to such things. But I believe youth pastors are uniquely qualified to lead from the middle of the pack, and not doing so is a missed opportunity to help make the church you serve effective. Here are a few reasons why:
- Most youth workers are younger than average church staff, and have a unique perspective on issues. This perspective needs to be represented.
- Youth workers are almost always on the front lines of culture and as such are aware of things impacting the congregation before other leaders.
- Youth workers are often the only people on a church staff that don’t get to specialize…they are doing church within a church which gives them a “wide angle lens” to things.
So, how do you lead up? How do you have upward influence? If you want to lead from the middle of the pack, I’d suggest a few very basic practices:
- Be a Team Player. When you are perceived as caring as much about the entire church as you do the youth ministry, you will gain influence and respect.
- Be Engaged at the Right Times. Meetings with other department heads, important all-church events and projects, the occasional “reply all” to an email….these are all opportunities for you to build trust among the rest of the staff.
- Listen More Than You Speak. Nobody likes a know-it-all, and not every topic needs your input. You can show interest in the topic at hand without needing to speak into it. When you begin to build a reputation as the guy or girl who listens intently before speaking, and is willing to NOT speak at certain times, your voice will carry far more influence when you do choose to chime in.
- Stick Around. Influence is given to those who are trusted and have a good track record, but those things take time.
As John Maxwell says, leadership is influence, and the church desperately needs yours!