i am going to dedicate a few posts to the leaders that have been on my team over the years. i have had some interesting people that have showed out in ministry situations…maybe you can relate, or at least start examining who you have on your team. if you don’t inspect what you have, you wont get what you expect!
this first leader was a young adult in his 20’s and to say the least he loved being around students. like many leaders that we attract to youth ministry, some join the team because they have a burden for kids, and others join simply because they want to be a kid and go to theme parks. basically, they want to go on the ride, but they don’t want to hang around after the ride is over. the best way to judge a leaders heart, is after a trip some place. do they stick around till the last kid goes home? do they hang around to pick up all the trash left behind? do they see themselves setting up and tearing down or do they see the kids doing it all? do they want a free ride or are they willing to invest in students lives and make a way possible for students? these should not be tough questions to ask…this guy was in it to the hilt…he would serve in all kinds of areas and had a magnetic personality. basically he was a big kid, until the night of the all night event. all night events will either make or break you in ministry. some people love them others despise them. we went to a theme park in town rode go carts, played laser tag, golf and had a great time with the kids for hours. we chose to stop at a Duncan doughnuts store at 4 am to fill up on sugar before heading back to the church for more fun. it’s an all night event and students will choose to push the limit, if you let them and some students just don’t know when to stop. the chaos ensued on a 15 passenger van (we had 2 go out that night) and the leader was driving with another leader in the passenger seat. This kid was in the back seat throwing nickels at the driver as he drove down the road…now a simple stop throwing nickels did not shake the student he proceeded to chuck nickels at the driver until the driver snapped and said “when i stop this van i am gonna body slam you if you throw one more nickel!” he threw another nickel…when the van stopped at Duncan doughnuts the van i was on was already there walking across the parking lot and a skirmish breaks out…the back door flew open and the student was climbing out of the back to get away from the leader. the next thing i saw was a student flying threw the air full out body slam to the ground. It was something everyone wanted to do to this kid, but nobody ever did. over 10 years ago and i can remember it as if it were yesterday…what do you do when a leader snaps and gets physical with a kid. Not the first time i have seen this happen…just the first time it was one of my peeps.
the student was so shocked he laughed and carried on to cover up his embarrassment and i later talked to the leader about his choice in actions. here is why i remember that night. the next wedensday night the dad met me in the parking lot with a desire to body slam me on the ground. i have never in all my ministry ever had a parent that close to punching my lights out. i have never seen a parent that upset before either. needless to say i was able by the grace of God to calm down the dad and explain to him what ensued up to the point of the leader snapping. the nickel throwing somehow did not make it in the original story dad received. needless to say dad was embarrassed and said he would have done the same.
so what do you do when a leader snaps and slams a student? i chose to use this moment as a mentoring moment for the leader. i sat him down for 3 months and chose to build the leader rather than sweep it under the rug. honestly, it would have been a lot easier to just forget about that night and leave everything as is, but i did not want anyone getting physical again. students will be students, but leaders have to be leaders and that means in responding to kids that push the limits! there will always be some student you would love to body slam, but is that what true leadership is all about! lead by example…