Love Jams for Leaders: Showing Your Leaders the Love that They Deserve

Picture this.

It’s your ministry night and you’re 60 minutes away from putting on the greatest night of your students’ lives. (Just like last week and the one before that, too.) Everything is where it’s supposed to be; lights are bright, the hazer is working overtime, and the music is hot when all of a sudden your phone blows up and 3 key leaders text you that they aren’t going to make it to service because of sports/studying/work/washing hair.

Did they seriously just TEXT you last minute? Yes, yes they did. What usually follows an incident like this is frustration, perhaps a little ranting under your breath, and scheming hundreds of ways to make those leaders who just utterly abandoned you feel guilty.

Or maybe not.

Maybe you change the game for your ministry and consider that maybe, just maybe, if your leaders saw you throw a little grace and love their way they would be more apt to make your ministry a priority. One of the chief reasons why volunteers begin to shy away from the ministries we so passionately run is because many of us communicate obligation to our leaders rather than genuine love and care for their own personal process.

That said, here are a few thoughts that will help you to show your leaders love in a way that will reap dividends for your ministry later:

  1. Gratitude
    A simple “thank you” goes a long way. When was the last time you said “thank you for all you do” to your tech team, or worship band, or even the greeter at the door? I know you feel gracious, but gratitude without expression is just a fuzzy emotion that has no external impact. Know that you’re the only one that can show them genuine gratitude that comes from the top down.
    PRO TIP: Hand-written thank you notes still speak louder than a text.
  2. Affirmation & Attention
    Know that your words weigh a thousand pounds to your leaders. You can use that weight to crush them or get behind them and propel them forward. A great coach always affirms a team member when he or she runs the right play. Be sure to affirm the individual in the moment as well in youth leader meetings. Also, respond to them promptly when they email, message or call. If they’re on your team, they need to know that they deserve your time whenever they reach out.
    PRO TIP: Call and affirm your leader from a place that has nothing to do with work. Calling from a place other than work shows your leaders that they aren’t on a to-do list and that they are a priority to you outside of your ministry. For example, “Hey, I’m just grabbing coffee and was thinking about you. How have you been?”
  3. Relationship
    Great relationships aren’t transactional; they aren’t about what you get from one another. There are too many times in ministry where we focus on how much output a leader has rather than on what we can input into them. Make your relationship with your volunteers about their process and not your platform. Be more about “who they are” rather than “what they do.”
    PRO TIP: This may sound cheesy, or shallow (or both), but when your volunteer tells you about a need, prayer request, or even something they are looking forward to, schedule a reminder in your calendar to follow up with them and ask them about it. Call me crazy, but for some reason it blows our leaders away when we actually show that we are praying for something they told us last week.
  4. Money
    Say what you will, but randomly handing a volunteer or a leader a gift card, a $5 bill, or paying for their lunch speaks volumes. Go the extra mile when you throw them Christmas parties or summer BBQ’s. Long story short, don’t skimp on the extras if you don’t want your leaders to skimp on their efforts on your ministry nights.
    PRO TIP: Budget for it. If you have no room in your budget, keep in mind that leader engagement will go further in a student’s life than a trendy t-shirt will. Just sayin’.

What are some ways that you show your leaders some love?