Hello! My question is, how should a youth leader act? I feel pressure to act spiritual and put on a mask because I have so many people looking up to me. The thing is, I feel stuck and not free to be myself. I’m quite the silly one actually!
You know, I don’t know how a leader “should” act.
I hate this word “should.” While there’s certainly a way to know how to be, God made you uniquely you because this is exactly how He wanted you.
Maybe it’s obvious, but God gives you permission to be you. God is always rooting for us to be more human, not less. That might be part of the reason He became one of us.
I would totally argue that your youth students like it better when you are yourself and show a little humanity. If you’re silly, be silly. If they raise an eyebrow, who cares? Life is too short to bury yourself under your fears, and life is too long for the exact same reason.
No one likes the guy who demands positional respect. We like the guy who draws in personal respect. I’ll probably listen to a guy who is bossing me around, but secretly I resent him. I’ll nearly always listen to the gracious leader not just because I respect him, but because I like him: and that’s a whole different level of respect.
There are way too many church leaders who act like untouchable kings and CEOs, to the point where they become unapproachable. It’s always sad when the church applauds their pastor because “he actually spoke to one of us today,” as if he raised the bar from poop to vomit.
At least half the leaders I know are like this in public: stodgy, stiff, proper, socially awkward, when privately they are very cool people. I always want to tell them: Just let yourself out to play.
When I first began ministry, I was super-aggressive in the pulpit because I thought it was “right” to be loud about Christianity. I mean if all the Reformed guys are doing it, then I should yell too.
But while I’m a passionate person, I am NOT this angry preacher persona. Over months I had to shed that like a bad snake-skin and just relax. It’s only been the last year where I’ve been more myself, more personable, as if I’m having a conversation with you face to face: and trust me, the congregation appreciated that way more than the shrill red-faced yelling. And you know: I feel better about it, too. God has moved way more powerfully when I’m the same guy inside and outside the pulpit.
Sure, there are mentor-student boundaries. Yes, we must set an example of faith, speech, life, love, and purity (1 Timothy 4:12). Of course, leaders must step it up and will face a harsher judgment (James 3:1). But all that is more reason to be yourself.
So please relax. God actually likes you for who you are, and so do we. We don’t just want a leader: we want to know you’re a human being, too.
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