This is the third post in a series that is a review of the Original Young Life Leader Training Manual from 1942.
If you are interested, here is the link to the copy I made of the manual with a letter from Jim Rayburn.
2. The Campaign Leader
The manual starts this section on leadership with a bold phrase, “The leader is IT!” Young Life puts an incredible emphasis on the leader and on leadership. There is not only one kind of leadership, as the manual suggests, “Do not put yourself in someone else’s mold. Use the personality God gave you to its best advantages.” This is a good reminder as we often see leaders up-front who are funny or exceptional communicators. There is not one “mold” for the Young Life leader. The mold is the complete body of Christ and each person is just one part.
The campaign leader is said to have three responsibilities. First and foremost the leader is responsible to God. “Our fellowship with Him must be unbroken, our growth in His knowledge unhindered, for we can never lead anyone where we have not gone.” One thing I very much appreciate of the culture of Young Life I have experienced is that one’s relationship with Jesus has always been elevated above “doing ministry.” One great phrase the manual uses is, “Do not be caught trafficking ‘unfelt truth’. Speak only of that which has laid hold of your own life.” Anyone who has given even a few club talks knows exactly what means and the difference it makes. The same can be said for personal conversations with students.
The second responsibility of the leader is to the students. The leader must know students’ interests and know their language. The manual says to, “Get next to them!” and “make the message interesting.” In the midst of being close to students we are never to compromise our role as an ambassador of Jesus. In my opinion, we in Young Life continue to be with students, but I think that our creativity may be lacking in “making the message interesting”. We must not compromise the message. It must be Biblical, and it must be with integrity and not gimmicky. In the time we spend with students, we must ask ourselves if we are paying attention to how they learn, what messages are connecting with them and if we are using these methods or ones that we are simply used to using.
The third responsibility of the leader is to the other leaders in Young Life. The manual uses two words that stand out, loyalty and cooperation. I believe the context of this manual is about local leadership, but it obviously applies elsewhere as well. Each team of leaders in a club or area must have a certain loyalty, or in other words, trust, reliability, and devotion not only to the Lord but to each other. A spirit of cooperation and teamwork is a hallmark of a strong leadership team. The manual also teaches that, “if [the leader] cannot loyally support its leaders, doctrines, let [the leader] seek some other place in God’s services.” In the context of a local Young Life area or club, there must be a united front. There may not be a more important place for unity than on the front line of evangelism to the disinterested and the unchurched. We know that our love for each other is what will be noticed (John 13:34-35).
Questions for Discussion:
1) If the “leader is IT!” in Young Life, how are we developing each other as leaders?
2) Are we forcing ourselves into someone else’s mold in Young Life?
3) How can we avoid “trafficking unfelt truth” in our ministry?
4) What are we learning right now about making the message interesting?
5) Does my Young Life team have a spirit of cooperation and loyalty? How can we grow in this?