A Pastors Guide to Cultivating Leadership in the Next Generation
Leadership is a key component in any organization, and it is especially important in the church. Pastors are responsible for not only guiding the congregation spiritually but also for helping to develop the next generation of leaders. It can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to leadership development, but there are a few basic principles that can help get you started.
One of the most important things to remember is that leadership development should be a continuous process. It’s not something that happens overnight, and it takes time and effort to truly nurture leadership potential in someone else.
There are a few things you can do to help the Next Generation in your church grow up and be more productive leaders.
Understanding the Basic Principles of Leadership
1. Develop emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is the basis for sound leadership. Every age group can work on accurately identifying specific feelings in themselves and others and managing them constructively. This way they'll solve emotional issues more easily, get along better with others and avoid destructive behavior.
2. Generate compassion.
Keep the focus on caring for others. Jesus was clear that we are to "love one another". Let young leaders know that the purpose of becoming more influential is to have a positive impact on society for the sake of God's kingdom. God has made each of our lives to be full of opportunities to serve others with compassion.
3. Take personal responsibility for your life.
Show the Next Generation they can take an active role in making things happen. Help them to understand that God has given them the responsibility to make their own choices and that He will guide them. Teach them that leadership starts with leading yourself first and foremost.
Leadership Development Strategies
Most of these go against our cultural norms. Following Jesus and His leadership typically does. However, to be great in His Kingdom as His leaders we need to follow His plan. These strategies are great for partnering with the parents in your church.
Here are several leadership development strategies for parents of younger kids:
1. Delay gratification.
There are valuable life lessons in learning to plan ahead and work for rewards. Jesus did this often when He said "my time has not yet come." He led the way in waiting for the Father's time.
2. Learn to read emotions in faces.
It's important to become sensitive to non-verbal cues. Great leaders in life have to be able to read people. Parents of younger kids can play games with their own facial expressions or draw pictures. Discuss how someone may look if they were preparing to eat an ice cream cone versus being surprised by a loud noise.
3. Choose your words carefully.
Parents and church leaders should encourage kids to select words that convey their affection for others. Ask them to talk about what they like about their siblings or friends.
4. Practice teamwork.
Demonstrate that it's fun and effective to cooperate and serve with others. Provide opportunities for families to do service projects together in your ministry. Encourage them to serve along side their kids to help their kids learn the art of teamwork.
5. Mind your manners.
This is a great way to challenge and partner with the parents in your ministry in how they are reflecting Jesus. Their kids are watching them to see how to act appropriately in different social situations. Encourage the parents in your church in this. And help them to learn how to encourage their kids for mastering these skills.
Leadership Development Strategies for Preteens and Teens
1. Engage in conversation and public speaking.
Communication skills play a big part in leadership. Provide opportunities for an in-depth discussion of current events with families. Simple questions to talk about on the car ride home about what they have learned at Church can go a long way in this. I like to call them "car questions". Teaching the same Biblical principle to all generations each week through "One Voice" helps perpetuate this time of communication.
As a church and ministry, make opportunities for preteens and teens to speak in Sunday School or youth group meetings. Perhaps you as a Pastor can even give them opportunities in your sermon to share their testimony.
2. Set goals.
Kids naturally become more motivated and accomplished when they take ownership of their own goals. Present options to your students but encourage them to choose the objectives they want to pursue. The youth ministry setting is a perfect place to empower students to do this. And it should always be shared with parents so they can be a part of this development process.
3. Think like a critic.
Support your students growing capacity for critical thought. This is especially important regarding the application of scripture in their lives. They can evaluate how well they did in living out scripture in different situations to identify areas where God would have them improve or where they want to improve. Even TV shows can be a trigger to discuss peer pressure and making moral decisions. Use illustrations in your messages that parents will be able to talk about at home with their students.
4. Take on leadership tasks.
Learning to motivate people and delegate tasks requires practice. When you as a Pastor talk about taking the initiative in the ministries of your church be sure to include and encourage students to do so. It could be as simple as putting together a potluck or family event as an outreach.
5. Develop organizational skills.
Young people can hone their management skills by overseeing complex projects. Appoint your students to take charge of the logistics for summer camp or Vacation Bible School or all of the ministry for a few weekends a year. Help guide them in these projects and reach across the generations as a lead pastor.
Getting the next generation in your church off to a good start with leadership skills can create a better life for them and help them to become positive influences on others. It will bring new life to your entire church. When the next generation learns to manage themselves and get along with others, they're better prepared for all that God has for them and for the church.