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My Ceiling, Their Floor

Veteran Youth Pastor, Jeff Grenell, introduces five keys for mentoring young leaders.

“The reason I have been able to see as far as I have been able to see in my life is because I am standing on the shoulders of great men before me.”  This is a more recent adaption traced back to an Isaac Newton reference from the 12th century. Nevertheless, it is one of my favorite quotes and has been used by many people in regards to vision and mentoring. It is on the shoulders of giants that we have a better perspective. If you want to do something you have never done, you must find someone who has been there and done it. And giving others the perspective from our shoulders can be the fastest way to successful Youth Leadership.

Here are 5 key elements for mentoring and developing potential leaders around you:

Education – My personal reading, attendance at seminars, and seeking personal coaching places me in the right condition to lead youth and others. Youth Ministry is not simply about swallowing gold fish, playing GaGa ball, or creating great flow in a youth service. Education removes lids. Education enlarges capacity. And education insures that I will have something of depth to say to those around me. Having a university in your life is elementary to leading others where they have never been. And, reading all of the millennial findings, one of the most common characteristic traits of this generation is achievement and academic endeavors. Giants must be made.

Inspiration – Inspiring others is another element of Youth Leadership. It can come in the form of relational inspiration, reward for achievements, storytelling, or even public and private verbal encouragement. Inspiration is a funny thing. It is like fuel to a teenager. I have often said, ‘If you love a teenager, they will do anything for you.’ Look at the many uses of inspiration: athletic teams jamming to music in a locker-room before a game, or listening to a coach’s halftime speech, music scores in a movie, and even worship songs associated with marked spiritual growth moments in a teen’s life. Never underestimate the value of inspiration in a young person’s life. Giants must be bigger than life.

Modeling – It is important to example what you want to see in the life of your followers. When it comes to relational attitudes, personal standards, work ethic, and discipline in other areas as well, we are reaping what we have sown. The most important relationship in your life is you. Present your followers with as healthy a leader that you can. One of the least emphasized areas of leadership is self-leadership. We must become focused upon becoming who God has called us to be. The stakes are high. Because teenagers are watching. They are drawn to ICONS in music, Hollywood, athletics, and society. That is why it is vital for youth leaders to present themselves as models to this generation. Giants must be respected.

Apprenticeships – Mentoring can take place in the office or a coffee shop. But, there is another setting that assures an even greater return from mentoring. An apprenticeship is the next step beyond the mentoring relationship into the setting of the mentor. This happens when mentoring is taken to the ‘live’ setting of the mentor. Beyond the office and into the church service or outreach. Beyond the coffee shop and into the board meeting or the pulpit. It becomes more operational where the teen is functioning within the duties of the mentor. By taking time to disciple, mentor, and coach people in an intimate setting, you prepare them for the public setting much quicker and duplicate yourself by creating greater leaders by experience. Actually standing upon your shoulders. Giants must lay down.

Creativity – We have no choice. For 2 reasons. First, the scriptures demand creativity. From Genesis to Revelation, the history of God is in larger than life moments. And our greatest example of creativity is the Lord Jesus Himself. From His parables, stories, and humor, came this larger than life impact. From His birth through His death Jesus’ life and mission was undeniably creative. Even the miracles and the supernatural wonders were part of the way He operated. And second, the culture demands creativity. From the social media and marketing and advertising explosion, there is a multi-dimensional special effect of the digital generation setting a new way to communicate. Using the scriptures and the culture can create special moments in the mentoring relationship of others. When we use historic cultural events, appear in the tragedy or crisis of the mentee, master storytelling, or simply even change the setting of a meeting, the dynamic of the mentoring relationship is enhanced. These all become greater teaching points. Giants must live a story.

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Category: Fall 2015, Ministry

About the Author: Jeff Grenell, MA (Evangel University), has over 30 years of experience in church, parachurch, and public education focused on ministry to youth. Jeff has served as a local church Youth Leader (13 years), Motivational Speaker at national camps, conventions, seminars, and public and private schools (5 years), the Lead Pastor of a youth church (5 years), University Professor (9 years), and has Coached NCAA basketball, High School, and AAU basketball and soccer (14 years). He is the author of #IfJobHadTwitter: When Hardship Hits The Palace (2017) and founder of Ythology. Instagram. Twitter.

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