Are leaders born or are they made? Neither of us is intelligent enough to answer that popular question, but we are smart enough to have personally experienced that good leaders are FOUND. Every leader we know seems to have something in common—they have been personally invited and challenged to lead within a team by an older leader. One of the most powerful actions you can take as a leader is to believe in someone’s potential. What does belief do? Well, when I know someone believes in me, I’m opened up to possibilities about my future that I may have never considered on my own.

Think about a person who has believed in you along your journey. What have you done in your life because you were believed in? Now, let’s turn these thoughts toward the youth who are waiting to be invited to a higher calling of servant leadership. It’s tough to build a leadership team with simply announcements and a nice promotional piece. While there’s nothing wrong with these actions to help get the word out, information doesn’t find leaders. Leaders find leaders. Here are five ways to consider inviting young people to join your leadership team:

  • Ask personally: talk one on one and face-to-face with them and paint a picture of what it would look like for them to lead in your team.
  • Ask diplomatically: don’t go for the “guilt trip/hard sell” and pressure kids into being leaders. Be sure you provide a way out for those who may not be ready yet. A manipulated decision rarely takes root and lasts.
  • Ask specifically: provide articulate next steps so they know exactly what’s expected and how to proceed.
  • Ask relationally: talk to the people you know and ask them who they believe might be a good candidate for a leader. After you’ve gathered some names go to them and encourage them by saying, “I talked to Mr.X and he really believes that you can be a student leader in our team. I’d like to invite you to consider this opportunity.”
  • Ask strategically: approach young people who are already showing signs of leadership because they are currently serving in your team. Jesus turned the world’s leadership model upside down when he required leaders to serve. Don’t simply focus on the popular kids, look to those who are serving.

If you’re a volunteer youth worker: you don’t need an official leadership team to challenge young people to lead… see their potential and invite them to something more.

adapted from


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