This weekend our student ministry (www.e3students.org) had the incredible honor of celebrating one our our leaders who has served as a volunteer for the past 29 years. No, 29 years was not a typo. She began volunteering as a youth leader when she was only 19 years young and has been faithfully serving ever since. I have had the privilege of serving with her for the last six years and during those six years I have learned some valuable lessons from her that could benefit any volunteer or leader in ministry. Here is my attempt to screen shot some of the lessons that I have learned over the past six years.
- Start Early: She began as a youth leader when she was only 19. She believed that she could impact the next generation by simply serving them and loving them. From an early age she understood the importance of serving and passed down this trait to her two children. If we allow more of the younger generations to lead then maybe they will stay engaged in the church when they graduate our programs.
- Sacrifice: Over the years I have watched her make serval sacrifices for the glory of God. She traded vacation time for youth summer trips, anniversaries for camp, and birthdays for Disciple Nows. Every student that she encountered knew that they were loved because of how much she genuinely cared for them. The best leaders are the one’s who make sacrifices. We have a saying in our Family Ministry (not original) that the next generation doesn’t care how much you know till they see how much you care. Sacrifices demonstrate love.
- Family First: While she was devoted to the ministry she was devoted first to her family. There were many occasions that she encouraged me to slow down and spend more time with my family. As leaders, our families deserve our first and best, not our leftovers.
- Stay Committed: Over the years she has seen the good, the bad and the ugly with youth ministry. She has worked with some of the best youth leaders and pastors and the ones that were still trying to find their way. Through it all she continued to invest in lives and show the next generation the love of God. Sometimes as leaders it is better to focus on what we can change in order to not be discouraged by what we can’t.
- Leverage your Story: Everyone has a unique story and the most effective leaders are the ones that are able to leverage their story for God’s glory in the next generation. You may never know how your story will connect with a student or child and inspire them to live for God’s glory.