Looking over the smiling faces and continuous gesturing as kids from age 3 years and up put their hearts into singing their songs from Wacky Wild Water Week (our church’s version of VBS), my eyes scanned the faces of those leading. Across the group, I could identify a large percentage of teens and recent grads that had grown up in our children’s ministry and were now leading and leading well during the week of ministry. What made them want to give up a week of their free time to involve themselves leading lively groups of little kids, creating songs, presenting the gospel, memorizing skits and teaching memory verses–some of them spending many hours of preparation and training time just for this one week of investment? They could be earning money at a job, relaxing at a beach or water park or kicking back with their friends…or sleeping,
Kids who lead well have usually grown up in a culture of families, churches, schools and communities that see the value of launching the younger generation into leading roles. Let’s consider some things that can promote leadership, especially ministry leadership, in the lives of young people.
Adults who model leadership take the time to explain, work alongside kids and teach them the value and methods of leading. Kids will usually catch the model and grow to value that role. Not everyone is born a leader, but all kids can learn some elements of leadership that will benefit them in all areas of life.
Find the strengths of your child. What is he/she good at? What potential do you see in them? Create the vision for them using their leadership. Create experiences and situations that allow them to stretch their skills. Of course, do it gradually, but do it. Encourage them to push past their fears, one step at a time.
A confident leader is not steeped in confusion, but has spent time knowing and understanding. He questions, sorts out the possibilities and learns to find wisdom. Don’t be afraid of your child’s questions. Help them think through what they believe about God and their faith. Cultivate them to love learning about God and spending time with him. Teach them where and how to find the answers in scripture. When a child sees their faith is real and effective in their everyday life, they typically embrace it as the solid foundation for their life.
Involve them in many ways leading in ministry. It is all too common for us to insist that kids wait until they are older to serve ministering in the community or church. Where can your kids start today living out their faith and leading? The possibilities are around us everywhere, but may require us to consider new possibilities. Your kids won’t be perfect, but they will grow in expertise.
In the lives of each of those teens leading at Wacky Wild Water Week, I could trace the path of leadership they had taken within their families, churches and schools. They had risen beautifully to the challenge in their role for the week and their influence left a powerful impact.
Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. 1 Timothy 4:12