Leadership Lesson 7: Young People Bring Energy!

Young People Bring Energy!

For the last several years, I have repeatedly been asked what the keys to successful ministry at OCU have been. I would share that one key to successful leadership is a high energy level. I never have to wonder what to do; work is a blessing and energizes me. Now let me first give credit where credit is due. Our energy comes from the dunamos power of the Holy Spirit. To God be the Glory!

Additionally, one of the powerful lessons I learned from my mentor and former boss, Dr. Jim Barnes, came in the form of a passing comment as he wished me well when I headed to Circleville. To paraphrase: An organization must have energy, so hire a bunch of “young thoroughbreds,” and turn them loose. They will make mistakes, but their energy will lead the organization to a new level.

Many growing organizations struggle to avoid becoming static and reach new levels of growth. Eight years ago at Ohio Christian University, there were many wonderful giants of the faith who to this day continue to make huge impacts on lives. However, the organization could not move to new levels until fresh, young, energetic workers with new ideas were mixed in with the wise experts.

One of the keys to success was hiring many young, beautiful, spirit-filled couples to provide new energy. When Debbie and I arrived, there were few children around the campus. Today it is not uncommon to see 50-75 children at an average university celebration--now that adds plenty of life! All these young couples wanted to do something for God, and the dynamism they brought to OCU spurred an outburst of energy and resulted in growth.

Recently I asked myself this question: if I were going to a new organization or church, what five growth strategies would I use?
One of these would be to gather at least 5-10 young couples around me to bring energy and work power. You might say, “Dr. Smith, where are they?” My response is to go find them. They are everywhere looking to be involved, but most churches have ignored them for so long that they have left the church. Don’t just give them the dirty jobs in the church. Let them be part of the power structure. Let them try new ideas.

I have found these strategies to be true, though many pastors and organizational leaders never get them:

  • If you love a young couple and give them responsibility, they will thankfully pour themselves into the ministry.
  • If you give them a voice and allow for their ideas to be tried, their energy will explode for your ministry.
  • If you create a safe haven for them to try and fail and are an encouragement to them, they will always try new ideas.
  • If you set the example of a holy and righteous lifestyle and teach it to them, almost all will follow.

Leaders, I dare you to save this generation by investing in young people! Do it today and make them feel wanted. Don't hold them off, but learn how to take the power of the energy in youth and direct it toward God. This is one OCU secret to success. To God be the glory!

~President Smith