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News & Tools » For Youth Workers

Leadership Ideas Part 1

August 9th, 2010

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Elementary School

Love the One You Don’t Like
Sit down together and talk about people who are difficult to be around—people who you don’t connect with easily. (You might even be so bold as to say you just don’t like them). Then, each of you choose one of these people to focus on this week.

Each day, direct your attention to them, but don’t announce what you’re doing to anyone. You may want to begin with conversation, giving them your undivided attention. Later, you may write them a note, affirming any good qualities you see in them. Perhaps you can do something to serve them and meet a need in their life. Maybe in give them a gift. The key is to do something that demonstrates love each day.

At the end of the week, talk about how you did. Was it hard?  What made it difficult? How did the experience stretch you in your relational skills?

Lost and Found
Go to the shopping mall with your young person. As you window shop, secretly drop a $10 dollar bill on the floor, where they will see it. Make sure they do not know you are the source of the money. When either of you spot it, don’t offer any suggestions to them on what to do. Allow them to reveal their heart. Will they keep it? Will they find a way to return it to the owner? Is it even possible to find the owner? Wouldn’t everybody claim that it was their money?  Within a few minutes, you and your young person will be ready to discuss what to do with your find.

Once he or she draws a conclusion, talk about how it reflects the personal values they’ve embraced. What kind of values have you both chosen to live by?

Middle School

It’s Good For You
Sit down and discuss the things you and your young person really don’t like doing. It may be a habit like sweeping the garage or some other chore around the house. It may be listening to or interacting with someone who seems un-loveable. It may be physical exercise or the discipline of waiting. It could even be eating a vegetable you don’t like.

Choose two of these “undesirables” and make them disciplines. Deliberately do what you don’t like doing. Practice them daily for one week. Put them down on the calendar and hold each other accountable to do them. (If you do them for two weeks, chances are they’ll become a good habit!)

Afterward, discuss the results. Did you feel a sense of accomplishment? Did you waver in your commitment? Talk about how daily disciplines pave the way for conquering laziness and indifference. How have you gained a personal victory by practicing these disciplines?

How’s Your Bedside Manner?
Pick a holiday coming up this month to celebrate. It doesn’t have to be a big one. It could even be something like Ground Hog Day or St. Patrick’s Day. Use it as an excuse to visit a hospital (or a children’s hospital if you like), and celebrate the day with patients.

Gain permission from the hospital staff to walk through a floor on the hospital and visit each of the patients there. (Children’s hospitals are great!) Take a small gift to them and get acquainted with each of them. Encourage them, as you discover their need for listening and laughing. Use this opportunity to build your people skills with those you don’t even know. Work at focusing on them, rather than yourself and your discomfort at being in a building full of sick people. Look for ways to serve them.

Afterward, discuss what you learned about people and people skills. What were some common discoveries you made about human nature? (i.e. we all like to be encouraged). What did you discover about yourself and your relational skills?

High School

Pick Up Your Burden
Sit down with your young person, and talk about their school. What’s happening on their campus? Once you get the conversation going, ask them to name one problem at their school that really needs to be solved.

Challenge them to “adopt” that problem as their own burden. Have them make a list of steps that could be taken to solve the problem. (These may be imaginary steps depending on the size of the burden they have chosen). Get them thinking about their vision for helping make the school a better place instead of complaining about how bad it is.

Finally, have them write about, draw a picture or clip out photos from magazines that depict the vision they have for their school. Have them create a mural if they wish. Then, post these pictures in their room as a reminder to both pray and act on their vision.

Event Planning

Choose an event that would normally be planned by an adult. It is preferable that the event be something on the calendar each year. Instead of planning it yourself, ask your young person to do all the preparation. For instance, if you have a pet, let your young person make arrangements for pet care while you are out of town. If you don’t, perhaps you can allow your young person to plan their own birthday party, given parameters of time, budget, and number of people who can attend. Depending on their age, check on them periodically, to make sure they stay on track and get answers to their questions. Allow them to follow through all the way to the completion of the event. When it is over, discuss what happened.

Young Adult

Walk Through a Graveyard
At sunrise or sunset one day, drive out to a local graveyard. If you can, find an old one, where the gravestones have descriptions on them of the people who are buried there. Walk through the property, reading the epitaphs of each one you pass. 

Afterward, sit down and discuss what you saw. Think about the lives of those who are described on those gravestones. Then, talk about the future. What kind of person does your young person want to be, as an adult? What do they want to accomplish before they die? What will be their values?  Their purpose?  Their methods?  What are their motives?

Take a few minutes and journal these thoughts on paper. Consider that we have a mission to live for and it is our goal to discover and work towards that mission.

Service Trip
This one will require you to plan ahead. Investigate volunteer opportunities that your school or some other organization may be sponsoring locally. If possible, plan to go on a cross-cultural mission trip together and serve in some unfamiliar place, such as to the inner city or a different-culture neighborhood. Make sure it’s a place where you are out of your comfort zone and that you are concentrating on serving others.

This kind of a trip does wonderful things for those who participate. Once you return home, take some time to debrief the experience. How did you work together as a team? What was the highlight of the trip?  How could the service you rendered on the trip become a lifestyle for you at home?

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