It is not solely our job descriptions or involvement with youth that determine our youth influence. In fact, I believe we are all youth leaders, insofar as our actions affect those who are younger than us.
A friend of mine is a “youth leader” at church, particularly on Wednesday nights when the youth group meets. I recently challenged her to think of her role as a 24/7 commitment, not just a Wednesday night one, and not just to a particular group of 20 or 30 kids.
The truth is, people look up to us and watch what how we live. It could be our younger siblings or younger friends. It could the neighbors’ kids, or the 8 year-old standing behind us at the supermarket. It could be our students, grandchildren, or the girl scouts who stop by our house to sell cookies.
The example we set with our daily actions will speak to those who are younger and who, knowingly or unknowingly, have created a little data file in their brain of how we acted and treated them.
Our words have particular power as well. I remember being in grade school and secretly admiring the cool, older kids. I would have taken just about any of their counsel. Even now, I feel a particular reverence for the advice of my elders. I wonder who is looking up to you and asking (perhaps not explicitly) for advice.
With this responsibility, it is important to live lives worthy of emulation. “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech…” Titus 2:7-8.
Let your actions be noble and your words be kind and true. Speak, live, and guide others as your heart leads you. Remember that you have influence. Be the one to make a difference.
Be a great youth leader!