I’m fortunate to lead a team of talented, dedicated youth workers. I’m the oldest and most experienced team member. I’m also one of the oldest, most tenured youth workers in our city. Longevity has brought a lot of blessings to my life. I have deep relationships with other youth workers around our community. I’ve gained some wisdom through some successes and a lot of mistakes. The longevity also affords me a certain level of respect. For example is that one of my staffers likes to call me the Yoda of youth ministry. It’s probably because I’m old (in youth ministry years) and bald.

I have to admit that I love when I’m called the Yoda/expert/guru of youth ministry. It strokes my ego to know that I’m respected and that my opinions are more valid. It also isn’t true. Years in ministry doesn’t equal expertise. To be an expert means that I have to possess a “comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.” In reality, the longer in youth ministry the less I know.

As a leader the moment I believe that I have it all figured out is the moment I become the least effective. When I am the expert I limit our team’s potential with my limitations. We can only know what I know and do what I can do. This is no good for the people I lead. It makes them dependent on me to make things happen. It makes them frustrated because their voice and ideas won’t be heard.

I’ve decided that I don’t want to be the expert any more. Instead, I want to become the most enthusiastic learner on my team. I want my passion for youth work lead to curiosity instead of arrogance. I want to let go of the “tried and true” so I can embrace the new movements of God’s Spirit.

This is REALLY hard for me to do. I like respect and recognition too much. I like feeling needed too much. But this really isn’t about me, is it? It’s about dying to myself so that God can achieve his purposes through us. Then and only then will I see the ministry to teens that I really want to see.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24 (ESV)