Jess is soft spoken and works with small, intimate teams. Nathan is gregarious and prefers a crowd. Mike relies on technology. Julia prefers phone calls and written notes. Chip is young. Connie boasts silver locks. Isaiah sings and plays guitar. Sean writes fresh, creative lessons every week. Beth is a prayer warrior while David is waging war on bullying. Each of these people is leading a successful preteen ministry. What makes each of them a quality preteen leader?
Obviously, it’s not a particular gift or gift mix. Introverts and extroverts, musicians and technogeeks, prayer warriors and social warriors all make great preteen leaders. It’s not age, appearance or even knowledge of the latest preteen trends. Being who God created you to be is a requirement, though. Preteens follow those who are confident in their own skin. You and I don’t follow someone who is pretending to be someone they’re not either. So, look at yourself in the mirror and smile. God is. Enjoy being who God created you to be.
The second rule for preteen leadership is similar. Lead with your passion. Mike loves technology, so he’s most effective—and energized—when he’s using the latest technology to communicate, teach and even have fun with his preteens. Katie has a passion for seniors, so her preteen ministry includes wonderful activities that reach out to grandparents. When these leaders start talking about their ministries, they’re on fire. Both volunteers and kids are attracted to their ministries because they’re alive. What leaves you energized? Do that! If you’re exhausted at the end of the day, you might not be using your passion.
All of these people have something else in common. They’ve created a team of people who love and support them. They’re not doing preteen ministry alone. Though each one is extremely gifted, they’re wise enough to realize they’re not gods. God has gifted each of us, but none of us possess all the gifts. God created us to live and work in community. We need each other. Surround yourself with other passionate people–ones who share your vision, but can fill in the gaps with gifts other than yours.
Most importantly, every one of these people finds their identity and worth in God. They measure their work according to God’s standards, not someone else’s ministry or their own personal success. Rather than comparing themselves to others, they evaluate their motives and aim for humility. It’s easy for me to think I’m accomplishing great things on my own strength and wisdom. But, it’s simply not true. The greatest ministries realize that God is the One who brings preteens to Christ. It’s God who works miracles through volunteers and grows attendance numbers. It’s God who deserves all of the honor and credit. We’re simply a tool in God’s powerful hands.
If you’re reading this magazine, you’re leading whether you want to or not. You may be in charge of a large preteen ministry, a Sunday school class or a small group. The preteens and volunteers who attend your church are watching you. What are they learning from your leadership? Are you pointing them to God or to yourself? Are they being drawn into community or asked to observe?
If we’re Christ followers, God has commanded us to lead others to Jesus. We can lead them one at a time or 100 at a time. The number isn’t nearly as important as our attitude and ambition. We all need to evaluate our leadership regularly. We’re a successful leader in God’s eyes if we’re walking humbly with our Lord and Savior, passionately being who God created us to be, and involving those whom God has chosen to help us. God bless you as you lead!