Build Your Bench Strength

Courtesy of pasukaru76/Creative Commons License

My honeymoon rocked.  It was an amazing time getting to know my wife and discovering beautiful Italy.  It was a true vacation filled with memories that will last a life time.  Between the wedding and two week honeymoon (Yes, two weeks!) I had been away from the youth ministry for 3 weekends.  I had left three of my most trusted volunteers in charge.  When I got back their response to how everything went in my absence was a general, “It was good.”  No real details and I didn’t need them because I trusted them that it was ALL GOOD.  Then I started to learn the details and I learned that good wasn’t as good as they originally indicated…it was overwhelming.

The problem was not the volunteers, the problem was that I had left too much on the plate for only three volunteers.  While one weekend would have been fine, I had given them more than they were ready to handle.  This wouldn’t have happend if I had more bench strength giving me the ability to lessen the burden on three people.

Every youth ministry needs bench strength.  When you have it you have the ability to replace yourself.  It gives you the ability to take a break and it gives you more reach and capacity as a leader.  But, to build up your bench is easier said than done.  To build bench strength you need:

  • Clear Purpose:  In order for more people to pick up the reigns of your ministry they need to know it’s purpose.  Your ministry is more than a daycare for teens.  In order for your bench to strengthen EVERYONE on your team needs to understand that, not just your point people.
  • Trust In God:  If you want to trust your team to step up and help increase your capacity you need to first trust God.  You tell students every week to put their trust in God, it’s important for you to do the same.  To build trust in your entire team you need to trust the fact that God has placed them in your life.  Work into your schedule time where you can look to God for guidance on who to delegate what.
  • Flexibility In Excellence:  If you are a perfectionist this will be difficult to do.  When you make a transition even through delegation you need to expect a drop in excellence.  That doesn’t mean your ministry will stink, it just means it might not meet your standards right away.  That’s where you as a leader need to offer a learning curve to your team.  Keep clarifying the vision and you’ll find them stepping up their game.
  • Consistency In The Ask:  Delegation is a gift that takes practice.  It’s not as simple as saying, “I want you to do this.”  It’s knowing how, when and whom to ask.  Once you develop the language and courage to ask others to serve you’ll find the strength of your team grow quickly.  Casting a vision clearly and delegating responsibility motivates others and soon it will become a part of the culture.
With a strong bench you have a strong ministry.  A strong foundation means being able to do bigger things.  A strong foundation means more capacity for your professional and personal life.  It means not going through life alone and that’s how you will last for the long haul.

How do you build bench strength?  What’s you biggest obstacle?

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