Top 3 (really 6) Leadership Mistakes   by Josh Griffin & Kurt Johnston


KURT – We’ve all been told that it is a wise person who can learn from his/her mistakes. I’ll take that one step further: The wisest of people are those who can learn from the mistakes of others. Because we want you to be the wisest of youth workers, over the next two days Josh and I will each share 3 of the biggest leadership mistakes we’ve made. I’ll kick things off:

Being A Ministry Hoarder 
  For much of my ministry career (and even now on occasion), I have thought everything hinged on me. I had to teach in order to ensure good teaching. I had to run camp in order to ensure a good camp. I had to train the volunteers in order to ensure good volunteers. In short, I hoarded ministry thinking it was helping, when it was actually doing long-term damage.

Being Unclear With My Expectations 
    When I finally started empowering others and giving ministry away, I gave it away…but without proper direction, support, and input. I figured, “Hey, if I know how to do ministry stuff then he/she should, too.” I got so excited by my newfound ability to share ministry that I would often give ministry away, and promptly move onto something else, never giving another thought to what I just dropped on somebody else’s plate.

Allowing The Youth Ministry To Be A Silo 
   What for years I thought was the right way to do youth ministry—in a segregated, away-from-the-rest-of-the-church manner—was actually the biggest mistake I’ve made in my career. Certainly there is a need for age-specific ministry, and I believe 100% in the concept of a church-based youth ministry. But when we allow our ministry, and the students within it, to become a silo standing completely separate from the rest of the church, we do harm to the long-term spiritual health of our students, the churches we care so much about, and ultimately, the kingdom.

The truth is this: I’ve made at least 3 leadership blunders today. Part of growing as a leader is making mistakes.

JOSH – Over the past 15 years (and 3 weeks) that I’ve been in full-time ministry I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes. I’ve made so many I’m currently pitching a book called Youth Ministry Nightmares where I talk about the stories surrounding my biggest leadership gaffs.
While these aren’t nightmares, they are some mistakes I’ve made in the not-so-recent past:

Neglecting rookie volunteers
     There is one group of leaders in your ministry that need you more than anyone else: the newbies. My mistake in the past was to concentrate on launching and not sustaining. The more time you take to make rookie leaders great the more you will retain and the better (and faster) experienced veterans they will become.

Not changing your leadership style to fit your team
     When my volunteer team was all my close friends, I could manage relationally and we were overflowing with trust and history. As teams change, and you encourage outsiders to join your team, make sure you adjust to the people God has given you. Make history with them. Design activities to build trust. Make sure they are fully trained and equipped.

Falling in love with youth ministry more than Jesus
     From time to time I have found myself in an unhealthy tension—choosing to love youth ministry more than Jesus. Loving what I do instead of who I do it for. It doesn’t take long in a season of discouragement to reveal which way you have erred.

Hope my mistakes help you be a better youth worker! 

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