student ministry, youth worker, youth ministry

Leadership is My Second Job?

By Doug Franklin September 6, 2012

As youth workers we are focused on students coming to know Christ, discipling them and seeing them identify and use their spiritual gifts. So why does so much of our job feel like we have to be great leaders? Yes, we are leading a ministry and we have followers: parents, adult volunteers and church leaders. But we feel like we are being pulled in two directions: leading a ministry or discipling students, and honestly we don’t feel like we can do both well.

Some might say it’s best for you to be the leader and let the volunteers do the discipling. Not a bad idea and it might work for some but what if you love to walk the road with students and mentor them as they grow in Christ? Can you be a leader of a ministry?

Some others might say, if you want to disciple students work at a small church that does not put a big emphasis on leadership. That can work but all churches still need you to lead, be organized and deliver results.

Here are my thoughts:

1. Leadership and discipleship go hand-in-hand

I actually don’t think these two things are very different or are lived out very differently. God has called us into a youth ministry, a ministry of discipleship where we live authentically as he has created us. When we live and lead as God has made us we will care and share our lives with others. Some need to be challenged by us to grow, others will need us to care for them and lead them to a place they would not reach on their own. Based on who we are ministering to our focus will change as we are sensitive to the Spirit leading us.


2. Know what you do best

Play to your strengths. If it’s leading, then lean more towards leading. If it’s discipling, go more in that direction. You will always need to do both just do one more than the other and seek balance when you can. Don’t ever run from one or make one out to be less spiritual. Your church leaders will take you down for that. Be wise and understand that your job requires both leadership and discipleship.


3. Build a team

Find people that can do what you can’t and let them do it. Part two is harder than part one of that last statement. Building a team takes time and care. Mix training with community. Love your volunteers as much as you love your students.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More