If we were to ask a hundred people what makes a good jr. high leader, we’d probably get a hundred different answers. Personally, I’m of the belief there are leadership qualities that transcend context. In other words, a lot of the leadership qualities needed to be a good CEO are the same as those needed to be a good President which are the same needed to be a good junior high worker. These qualities are numerous, but let me give you three, that I try to remind myself of every day.
Ethics, honesty, integrity…call it what you want; just be sure you got it! Recent history is scattered with far too many examples of corporate, political and religious leaders who fell short in this area. Each day, you are faced with lots of opportunities to lead ethically. Here are a few examples of what ethical leadership might look like in jr. high ministry:
· Not playing favorites with the ‘cool’ or ‘church’ kids.
· Keeping good financial records of church money spent in your ministry
· If you get paid, making the most of the time you are ‘on the clock’.
· Not exaggerating stories you tell in your lessons.
· Saying an honest ‘no’ to another request instead of saying yes and becoming bitter.
A good definition of effectiveness is ‘doing the right things’. In life and ministry, there are lots of good opportunities. Effective leaders recognize that not every good opportunity is a good opportunity for them. Just because someone has an idea for an activity or suggests a new curriculum or finds a great new service project doesn’t mean you need to add it to your junior high calendar! My phone rings several times a week with opportunities for our ministry that “are just too good to pass up”… the door-to-door fundraiser selling lifetime supplies of cellophane, the traveling evangelist who uses a yo-yo and a watermelon in his presentation etc. I almost always pass them up. When you’re done reading this post, I encourage you to think about your junior high ministry and make a list of the things that are most important to it’s effectiveness. Be sure not to let other stuff crowd these items out.
A good definition of efficiency is ‘doing things right’. Junior high ministry is notorious for being inefficient. We’re messy. We get home from trips late. We forget to make a flyer. When we do make a flyer, it’s full of typos. We have a hard time staying within our budget. We procrastinate. Sound familiar? Being efficient takes work, but it is incredibly rewarding for you as a leader and for the ministry you are leading. When I was growing up, I would constantly find short-cuts when doing chores such as mowing the lawn or washing the car. My dad would constantly find mistakes in my work and say “Kurt, it’s funny that you never seem to have time to do it right the first time, but you always have time to do it over again.” Efficiency is the art of learning how to do it right the first time.
Leadership isn’t easy, but since you are one you might consider helping your cause by being one who is ethical, effective and efficient.