All youth leaders need encouragement. Sure, many are humble and would never admit it, but deep down, everyone needs encouragement. This is something that many youth pastors fail to do (myself included). We forget that the ministry actually rises and falls on our youth leaders in many cases, not the youth pastor. The youth leaders are the ones who are doing the hands on discipleship and relationship building in the youth ministry. Therefore, they need encouragement. I am going to work on this more this semester in our student ministry. Here are a few ways that we can encourage leaders:
Pray regularly for them– Look, you should already be doing this, but sometimes, we forget the importance of prayer. Let them know you are praying for them. Get to know their personal prayer request, and pray with them about them. This is the most important way that you can encourage them.
Recognize them– Sometimes, simple ways of recognizing them goes a long way. Call them up to the front occasionally. Let everyone clap for them. Let their students show them through recognition that they have the best small group leader. It means a ton for your youth leaders.
Give them a Gift– Look, depending on the size of your ministry and your budget, it determines what kind of gift you can give your leaders. For us, I have 25 youth leaders, but a fairly small budget which means, I cannot go overboard with my gifts that I try to give our leaders. I wish that I could do more, but we have done gift cards, coffee mugs, candy, and thrown them big parties. I do not think the size or amount you spend is important, it is the fact that you thought of them.
Pay for them on youth trips– Now, once again, this is determined by your budget, but try to pay for your youth leaders if possible. You have no idea how much this means to them. Many of them have their own families and a lot of bills, and struggle to afford the money to attend youth trips. Try your best to cut their cost as much as possible.
Praise them– Do not down them, do not talk bad about them, and certainly do not criticize them. Look for opportunities to praise them. They need this. Praise them privately, but also publicly.
Equip them– Every good youth leader will want to be a better youth leader. Make it happen, youth pastor. Get them training, take them to seminars. This shows the youth leader that they are valuable, and you want to make them better.
Befriend them– Become friends with your youth leaders. Some of our closest friends are youth leaders. Do not make them acquaintances, get to know them on a friendship level, not just a business level.
How do you encourage your youth leaders?