Young leaders are people who will make mistakes and fail occasionally; they aren’t expected to know everything. They are being sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Young leaders are allowed to ask questions about faith and life; they are allowed to wrestle with doubts and fears. They are prepared to let God shape them each day. They have bad days and need encouragement. Young leaders are passionate about following when Jesus leads. They are people whom God loves, accepts and forgives.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples…” John 13:34-35
Here are ten tips to help you disciple your young leaders.
1. Help Shape Them
A new disciple of Jesus can be likened to a block of ice ready to be sculpted by a master sculptor to reveal the work of art within. We don’t come to Jesus as complete, mature followers. We make a decision to follow and then work out what that means as we allow the Spirit to shape our lives into what God sees all along. Your role is to help your young disciple become more like Christ by walking with them, encouraging them, investing your them and being ready to make the most of opportune conversations and moments.
2. Integrate Them
Every young disciple needs to be connected into the life of their church. This isn’t just about attending on Sunday, it’s being known and getting to know their family of other believers, it’s being actively present and involved and surrounded by other disciples who can help them in their walk and be their biggest supporters.
3. Discover their gifts
We each have gifts, skills, passions and dreams to offer God that he has sown into us in order to build his church and use for his glory. Take some time to observe, draw out and water their gifts so they can contribute to God’s purposes.
4. Foster Strengths
We each have natural traits and abilities we are stronger in that are worth fostering as we minister to others. StrengthsFinder is a great tool for pinpointing a person’s strengths and helping them understand how they tick.
5. Give them responsibility
Giving your young disciple some practical hands on responsibility or a leadership role will work wonders in helping them step up to the plate, learn leadership and people skills, shape their faith and grow in maturity.
6. Let them make mistakes
Never forget that failure is a valuable teacher. It’s important that you allow your young disciples to have a go, take measured risks and leave room for making mistakes – always making sure to debrief and provide direction and guidance. Micro managing will only suffocate their growth.
7. Show them the big picture
Take your young disciple on a road trip to a conference or youth event, visit another ministry that’s out there trying to do what you do so they can see the big picture and come away inspired and full of great ideas.
Supervision is a regular time and space where you can catch up, talk over anything that needs to be chatted over in relation to their ministry or discipleship walk. It’s healthy to also have someone outside of your circle spend time with your young leader for supervision as well. Guided peer supervision among a group of young leaders can work really well too.
9. Pray and worship with them
The culture and heart you sense God is wanting your young leaders to exhibit starts with you their leader. Praying with them and worshiping with them is vital to building relationship and allowing them to see what you are all about. It also allows God, the master disciple shaper, to input into your leadership group and help you to be attuned to his voice.
10. Help them to pass the baton
Inspire them to see that fully fledged disciples have a passion to make other disciples. Weave a culture of discipleship into your ministry efforts.