When I graduated and came onto staff I was on the younger end of life and ministry. Cobb knew that I needed a lot of work. I, on the other hand, thought that I had all the wisdom and knowledge I needed to be a successful youth pastor. I would prove him right and me wrong time and again very early and often. I saw this most prevalent in the way that I viewed the way I spent my time in ministry.
I was focused on spending time the the students. I thought that the more time I spent with them the better the ministry would be and the more it would grow. There was some truth in that. However, I was no longer a volunteer staff member on the team. I was now one of the youth pastors on staff and needed to change the way I viewed ministry, concerning my job. I was not just in charge of my group of guys in junior high, I now needed to view the ministry as a whole and what was best for the entire group. In the beginning I did not necessarily embrace this. I wanted to be in the middle of the action. You know, for games, groups, stuff like that. But I made the decision to put myself on that outside of that as soon as I came on paid staff.
My worth would now be in the connections I would create and maintain, not just with the kids, but more importantly with the volunteer staff and interns. The more I could influence the leaders, the ones spending the one-on-one and quality group time with the students, the more impact I would have. Cobb always told me that the earlier I realized that my influence was most effective in the staff the sooner I would see growth in my ministry. So, I focused my energy this way.
I read tons of books on leadership and studied what it mean to build leaders. What was good for me was that on of my strengths was intuition. I could pretty much see who had leadership potential. And I put most of my time into these peeps. This did, however, mean that I had to give up a lot of my influence with the students and give that aways to the individual group leaders. I was torn. For me to move to the next level of leadership I would have to give away the very thing that I did ministry for in the first place... that was influence and time with the kids.
But I guess that is what they mean when the experts talk about sacrificing to get to the next level, whatever the field may be. It paid off. Years later now I see the influence that leaders have with their students. And now I praise God as I stand back and watch others continue to excel in their leadership abilities. The more I give up the more God seems to give.