It’s hard to imagine the a difference between loving people and being a pastor. In fact, it seems like the core requirement of being a pastor is to love people ridiculously well. While loving people is a requirement of being a pastor, not everyone who loves well is a pastor. Churches are full of people who love people well, but they might not be growing or developing others.
When we say “grow someone,” we are talking about fostering a noticeable change in a person and helping them overcome their weaknesses. When students sign up for your school, they are signing up to be challenged and developed, to change the way they relate to the Lord and solidify their identity in Him as sons and daughters. If you ask them, they may say they are coming to school for “more of God.” But the reality is, they will be changed in the process.
“Loving someone isn’t necessarily leading someone, and growing someone isn’t necessarily leading or loving them, and leading someone isn’t necessarily loving or growing someone.” Gabe Valenzuela
During Converge 2016, BSSM2 Overseer Gabe Valenzuela, discussed the keys to leading and loving people well. Watch a clip from Gabe’s session below:
You can find the entire session on BSSM Equip! Find out more information at BSSMEquip.com.
There are three keys to loving and leading students well: Holy Spirit, leadership, and your staff. Focusing on these three aspects will help you love, lead, and grow your students well.
- Holy Spirit
Being in constant communication with the Holy Spirit is the most important aspect of any school of ministry and to loving, leading, and growing people well. Your dependency and hunger for the Lord will keep you going when things get tough. He is your “why,” and that is what you have to hold on to. The moment we stop asking the Holy Spirit what we should be doing is the moment we stop trusting the voice of the Lord and start leaning on our own understanding.
As a leader, you cannot lead your students to the river if you haven’t been there yourself. It is out of the overflow of His presence in your personal life that you ministerfrom. If you don’t have the overflow of the Holy Spirit in your own life, you will dry up and burn out because you are giving away everything you have. You have to rely on the Holy Spirit constantly in your own life in order to be able to rely on the Holy Spirit in your public life.
But, because you have the Holy Spirit living in you, you have the ultimate cheatsheet! He is the One Who tells you His secrets (Psalm 25:14). He will give you the ultimate strategy to lead your students and staff well. When you are uncertain of how to lead a student, you get to ask the Holy Spirit what the best strategy for that student is. He speaks to His friends, and like Moses, He will give you strategies, strength, and grace to lead your students.
Your leadership is the second most important aspect of influencing your students. Hebrews 13:7 instructs us to imitate the faith of our leaders. Many churches have great leaders at the forefront, but their followers don’t necessarily feel developed or loved. Just because you have the title “leader” doesn’t mean you’re developing people. The job of leadership is to produce greatness, not just be famous. It is easy to get caught up in the everydayness of being a leader.
It’s equally important that your leaders are accessible. While many people around the globe consider Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton, and other Bethel staff to be their leaders, they are not actually accessible to many individuals. It’s important to have leaders in your school your students can have access to, even if it is a quick “hello” after service on Sunday. Being accessible to your students help them understand that leadership is not above anyone else.
As Gabe says, staff is the third most important factor in growing your school, but it’s also one of the biggest factors in the decline of your school. Your students will be more influenced by your staff than they are by your leadership because they see your staff every time school meets. Because of this, you students will naturally go to your staff for advice and leadership. Understanding that your staff will have the most influence on your students is important when hiring your team.
It is possible that your school leadership and your school staff are one and the same. The influence your leadership has will trickle down to your students. It’s important that your staff is filled with different types of personalities and callings. Students need to see a variety of people so they can connect with who they relate to the best. When it’s time to hire new staff, take a look at your existing team members and see what holes need to be filled. If you have a lot of teachers but not many evangelists, look to hire an evangelist, and so on with other positions of influence.
When there are team members with different kinds of callings around, students can pull on them to develop their own gifts, as well as be challenged in areas they are not strong in by other staff members. Developing a community of different callings and leadership styles will ensure your students have someone they can model themselves after.
Most transformation happens in community. Community is a place to be vulnerable and to get rid of shame, to take risks and grow without the fear of judgement. It’s important for staff to build trust and model vulnerability with your students. Empower your staff to look for the people who are trying to hide and to know where your students are at in their process. This way one-on-one meetings can be used to check in for progress. For many students, being known is the most important thing.
Loving people well is a skill set. Growing people is also a skill set. You have to tangibly demonstrate love to your students. You cannot fake it. You need to have a plan in your heart for each student. Showing students the Father’s heart while helping them process through what is happening in their life leads them to breakthrough. The Holy Spirit living in us influences us to love others.
We bless you as you continue to grow in your leadership of your students. May they continue to feel overwhelmingly loved, boldly led, and grown beyond their wildest imaginations.