A few weeks ago I had lunch with a guy who recently moved to the Jackson area. During our meal, he began to explain to me why he did not feel as though he was cut out for youth ministry. He explained to me how he struggled to relate to teenagers and he did not particularly enjoy speaking in front of people. Well, I began to get a little worried because if those two qualities disqualify someone from youth ministry (or any type of ministry for that matter), I am in big trouble. We concluded our lunch, and I immediately went to a local coffee shop to think. Several questions were parading through my head. What makes a good leader? What makes a person “followable”? Is it really about being able to relate to a group of people? After thinking and reflecting on my own personal experiences, what I have learned during my time in ministry, as well as the experiences of others, I determined there are three qualities which make a leader or minister “followable” (No, “followable” is not actually a word, but it fits here and this is my blog, so I can do what I want…and you must admit, it is rather catchy).
People today, teenagers especially, encounter and interact with many fake people. Most can spot a person who is fake without much effort (seriously, my wife has a gift for this…she can have one conversation with a person and determine if they are fake). People are attracted to someone who is real about who they are. They are real about their faults and failures. They are real about their shortcomings. They do not try to be somebody they are not. As a minister and a leader, I make sure to always stand in front of my listeners and let them know I in desperate need of God’s grace everyday. I am not standing in front of them because I am more righteous than they are. Nothing turns me off more than when I listen to someone (sometimes unbeknownst to them) put themselves on a pedestal and make me feel as though they have no issues or problems. PLEASE STOP!
Yes, I understand authenticity and genuineness can be synonyms, but I want to propose they are actually much different. When I think about an authentic person, the life of the individual comes to mind. When I think about a genuine person, the way the individual treats and responds to others comes to mind. Bottom line: when I meet someone who honestly cares for me and my well-being, I am attracted to that person. I do not believe I am in the minority here. People are drawn to someone who wants what is best for them and invests time in their lives (not because they have to, but because they choose to). A genuine person cares for the lives of people. A genuine person fosters relationships with people whom he or she can gain nothing from. You can tell you care more about yourself or your status rather than the cares of other people by asking yourself some questions. Do you associate with people that can offer you nothing in return? Do you help people when no one else is around? Are you quick to tell others when you help someone? It is highly unlikely people are going to follow you if they know you really do not care about them.
I hate to elevate one of these three qualities above the other two, but this one might be the most important. Why? I tend to overlook faults and downfalls in other people if I know they are passionate about God. I have met few people in my life that are truly passionate about the Lord, but the few I have met, I will go to battle with them any day. The main reason I became a follower of Jesus is because I met a guy who was passionate about the Lord. His thoughts, motives, and actions were centered on Jesus. Christianity was not just a cool idea or a Sunday morning experience. It was a lifestyle. It was a way of life, and I wanted to be part of that. God sent his only son, Jesus, to redeem us from every thing we could not redeem ourselves from. He deserves much more than an hour on Sunday and Wednesday…he deserves our lives. Whether you are a youth minister, small groups minister, preaching minister, executive minister, or anything in between, if you want to attract followers, live your life with passion for the Savior who gave his life so you did not have to. People WILL respond to that.
I will admit this list is not exhaustive. It is not intended to be. There are certainly other important qualities for ministers and leaders (and being relatable is one of those). I would be eager to hear what others think are important qualities for a “followable” person.
I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!