This past Saturday, I left my position as a youth associate to take my first official youth pastor position at a church plant.
As I reflect on my last 9 years of youth ministry, I started asking myself, “What were the most important lessons I have learned about youth ministry?” I’ve found that one of the most important lessons we can learn is learning how to earn influence with students so we can make a lasting impact in their lives.
So how do we do this?
You Earn Influencing by Caring – John Maxwell has taught us all, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” That’s a fact. Students know whether or not we genuinely care through our words, eye contact, and the time we spend with them. Be intentional when it comes to caring for your students. Encourage them, pray for them, be there when they need you, and point them to Jesus every chance you get.
You Earn Influence Through Creating Memories – Every time I am with students, I ask the question, “What could we do right now that would create a memory that we will never forget?” The more memories you make, the more influence you’ll have!
You Earn Influence Through Leading by Example – It’s true that students will do what you do, not what you say. You can preach the greatest sermon ever, but if your life doesn’t back it up, you will not earn any influence with students. If you teach it, make sure you are living it.
You Earn Influence by Being Vulnerable – I’m extremely vulnerable with our students. I am myself around them, I share my weaknesses, and I share my hurts with them. I remember asking some of our core students this summer if my vulnerability made my influence with them more credible or less credible. Without hesitation, they all said, “more credible.” Be vulnerable. Be Real. Be You.