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Youth Leadership Traits for a Teen Decade - #2

Jeff Grenell

Youth Leadership Traits for a Teen Decade...

We are about to enter "The Teen Decade". It happens every century. The teen decade we are about to move into can be shaped by each of us who love this generation if we are willing to adjust our lives to a few key values.

This month I am sharing 4 elementary leadership traits for youth leaders who want to shape teen culture in this coming decade. Let me give you value number two in this post. You can read number one below to catch up with this series. Let's make this interactive and viral by taking the time to complete the blog with your thoughts.





TRAIT #2
Great youth leaders do not have to be perfect

When I learned that lesson it was revolutionary to my life. Sometimes we create our own images and templates of success. To be a great youth leader one must be "hip" or "social" or "gifted". Then what of the youth leader who isn't either of these? Couldn't someone who lacks "hip-cool-giftedness" have the wisdom to place those kind of people around them in order to create a great youth leadership team? 

The most successful youth leader is not 'Superman'. Because that kind of leadership has cryptonic weaknesses. On the contrary, the most successful youth leader looks more like 'Superfriends'. There are no weaknesses in 'Superfriends'.

As a type A personality and driven by perfection and competition, I was motivated by the desire to be perfect and by creating unrealistic expectations for myself (and others). This kind of leadership caused several things in my life and ministry:

1. Disappointment and disillusionment take place when you do not reach your goals. And soon we begin to accept lesser effort and outcome just to make ourselves feel better. If you will set attainable and realistic goals, then every time you reach them you set another one and create a process of progress. 

2. Pride will cripple your own growth. When pride sets in, you will run in your own yard and play behind fences you have created. How small is that? Don't believe your own press clippings and write your own bio. Get someone around you who you are afraid of and who will tell you the truth.  

3. Unteachable and unwillingness to listen to the counsel of others. This can create tunnel vision or blind-spots. One of the most helpful lessons in my youth ministry came when I took the counsel of "The Fellowship of Minds" around me. The opinions, knowledge, and world view of others will take the ceiling off your own mind and the blinders from your eyes. God has called gifted people to your side. Value them.

4. Self-production and a lack of reliance upon the Spirit is the American way. And it is easy to slip into. Be careful of losing your dependence upon the Holy Spirit. There is no one more creative than God. Don't leave Him out of your planning and preparation.

5. Unrealistic Expectations distanced me from the hurting youth in our church, the schools around us, and our city. When you expect everything and everyone to be perfect, people around you get that vibe and quickly separate from that kind of leadership. Set an ethos around you that is welcoming and not repelling.

Become comfortable with your successes AND your failures. Too often we celebrate our successes without talking about the failures that brought us to the point of victory. No Messiah complexes allowed in youth ministry. M
inistry is not for elitist attitudes. 
Have you forgotten the kind of people Jesus called to Himself to change the world? 


In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul stated that he would rather boast in the infirmities of life than to celebrate the strengths. Be careful of thinking too highly of yourself and not too often of the great help you need from God to lead this generation of students around you. For some reason God chooses to show His glory upon people who are willing to to walk in their own humanity.

Thoughts? Which of these 5 struggles do you see in yourself? Are there other issues that set in when you create unrealistic expectations of yourself and others?