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There’s no such thing as a perfect youth leader. But, if one existed, what would they look like? What kind of habits would they have? Taking some time to understand this will help you know what to work on. This journey in the gospel is one of constant self-improvement and our callings are meant to stretch us and help us to become more like the Savior. Here are some habits you can work on, while you are in that state of becoming.
Make Time to Develop Yourself
Our callings can be a big investment of time and resources. We need to have something to give. This is why it’s so important to start with yourself. Taking time for prayer, scripture study, exercise, eating right and sleeping enough will help you have the strength you need to serve. I’ve been guilty of not taking good care of myself and I ended up unable to take care of anyone else for a time. It’s just not worth it to do that to yourself!
Want to read more about self-development? Read my posts 4 Things Effective Youth Leaders Do to Take Care of Themselves and The Shocking Truth about Goals and Leadership
Allow Others to Make Mistakes and Learn from Them
This one can be hard. It can be really hard to watch someone struggle through something that you can do quickly and easily. What happens when you or someone else aren’t there to do things for them?
We can wear ourselves out trying to be everywhere at once and to be all things to all people. There’s enough room in the Church and in the programs of the Church for imperfection.
Rather then stepping in and taking over, I suggest spending the energy on evaluating activities and events after the fact. This can really help people learn from their experiences
Be Generous with Praise
For awhile I had a very simple habit goal of taking 15 minutes every morning to write a short thank you note to someone who had done something meaningful for me. I was always very specific about what I was thanking them for. Very often, I wouldn’t hear much back, if anything. However, my secretary wrote back to me after I’d sent her a thank you note, letting me know that she hadn’t realized that what she’d done had made such a difference to me. I could tell that she felt validated and affirmed by what I had said to her.
Building people up will always have more power than even the best-worded constructive criticism.
Be Careful of Talking too Much
When I was serving as Young Women President and then was released and immediately called as second counselor. I served with a president who put a lot of weight on what I said. I began to become concerned that she was relying on my opinions of how things should be done too much. I also noticed that her first counselor was not sharing her thoughts and opinions. I was worried that my willingness to jump in and answer every question might be keeping us from truly counseling together.
So, I tried a little experiment. I picked a number and decided that I would only speak that number of times during our presidency meeting. I was hoping it would create a space for the first counselor to share her thoughts. I was thrilled when I saw her start to share more in our meetings.
It’s important to remember that in our councils, everyone should be encouraged to talk and share their opinions.
As I said above, it’s really important to make meetings a place where everyone participating can be heard. I found that very often, the answer was in listening to everyone’s opinions and then deciding. This helps people feel heard and to align with a decision they may not even agree with.
Focus on What’s Most Important
It can be really easy to lost focus on what is most important. Make sure you take the time to regularly review the objectives of the Young Women Program or the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood, depending on where your calling is. The bottom line is that we are helping the youth to draw closer to Christ. It can be very easy as we plan camps, youth conferences and other activities to forget the main reason we are doing them.
Be Wise with Your Time and Resources
From time to time, requests will come your way that you may decide are not right for you or your organization. You are not an unlimited resource, nor are the people who serve with you. It’s good to have the wisdom to know when and how to say no and to place limits on what you ask of others and yourself.
Want to know more about how to tell people no without completely letting them down? I absolutely love The Power of a Positive No by William Ury.
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