Luke is a Youth Ministry Director in Pittsburgh, PA and a Contributor in the area of Ministry Leadership. This interview was originally posted in our September 2016 Newsletter.
Q: When did you first become involved in Ministry Leadership?
A: I first felt God’s call into Ministry Leadership my freshman year in college, after my roommate was killed. I began working in Youth Ministry and, after I graduated with a degree in Christian Educational Ministries, I began working as Youth Ministry Director for a multi-site church. In 2010, I became their Director of Junior High Ministry.
Q: Can you share more about how God used your roommate’s death to draw you into ministry?
A: My roommate had it all together. He was smart—he had been accepted into law school—he was good looking, he had a great personality, and he had a great relationship with the Lord. And then, he was killed in this really tragic accident. I was never really outspoken and always thought that, to be involved in leadership, I’d have to have all the answers. I realized thorough that experience that I can never do or be enough. But God is, and I needed to do whatever I could when I was called to do it. Moving forward, I decided I’d go wherever God asked me to go.
Q: What have you learned about Ministry Leadership that would be helpful to others just starting out?
A: Surround yourself with good people and pour into them. I am really humbled by the great people God has put around me. Over the last few years, God showed my gifting and desire to steward into others, and I can really see Him working through the people I’ve mentored. Now, I have this really great team that I’ve poured into and, at this point, they often encourage and support me.
Q: How do you recommend that others build a great team?
A: It’s always a combination of our efforts and God’s grace. For our part, it’s important to establish the group’s culture. You can either intentionally cultivate culture, or it will happen by itself. I used to be so concerned about people leaving. Now, I spend my time on before they get to that point and talk open about our vision and values. I let them know, “Here are the competencies we want to build into you, the skills we will look to develop in you.” I’ve found that people really respond to that. With this approach, exit interviews have really changed. I used to try to duct tape their feet to the floor. Now, I let them know I can’t wait to see the next thing God has for them. And, the amazing thing is, now fewer people leave. That goes back to culture. (For more of Luke’s insight on this topic, read his new post “Cultivating Culture in Ministry”.)
Q: What are some of the mistakes you see in Ministry Leadership?
A: Many Ministry Leaders confuse leadership with doership. It needs to be about the team. As the leader, you are guiding them…You need to clearly convey, “Here’s where we’re headed and how we move forward together.”
Q: What is the most important attribute of an effective Ministry Leader?
A: Transparency. You need to be real. Effective leadership is knowing who you are as a leader and being able to communicate that you’re real. Be honest and open to the people God puts in your path and they’ll listen to what you have to say.
Q: Are there any specific challenges and frustrations you’ve seen ministry leaders face, in your role in leadership?
A: One thing I think happens fairly commonly—and one I’ve personally experienced—is when we’re passed up for opportunities. As leaders, we want to move ahead and take that next step. But God speaks to us and gives us direction through these situations. These moments are good opportunities to evaluate if there are things we can sharpen up and use going forward. And, in these moments, God affirms our gifts and makes us aware of areas that need polishing.
Q: What encouragement do you have for people who are feeling discouraged in Ministry Leadership?
A: Two things…First, if you feel like the Lord is leading, and even if you can only impact 10 people, do it. There’s so much that just needs to be done. If you screw up, that’s OK. Just try again. But those 10 people—even if only one is impacted by your leadership—that one person is worth it. Second, God opens doors. God closes doors. Paul was really clear in Romans, when he said “Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us.” Do not accept being the victim of whatever circumstance you find yourself in. God has a plan.
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