Whether you’re taking your youth group to the inner city, a short term team to Haiti, or a group of missionaries to Africa, you want to be effective in both what you do and say… but how? It seems that words act in this way: they are powerful at first, but begin losing their power if they grow more abundant. It’s much like a squirt gun losing pressure, the more you squeeze the trigger, the more pressure is expended, the more pressure expended, the less impacting it is. So how do you regain the pressure that makes your words something that will truly impact the team and not put them to sleep? How do you restore the pressure? I think it’s this: Your actions serve as the pressure behind your words. People tend to evaluate your words by the actions that precede what you say. I once read something years ago that has surfaced in my mind here and there: “People may not believe what you say, but they will always believe what you do.” Perhaps we should balance out what we say, which can be subject to falsification and exaggeration, with what we do, which is inarguable and an undeniable representation of a person’s character. Ryan Schlangen works with STEM Ministries and has lead one short term missions team after another. He has offered to give his input on how to be an effective leader to your team.
I have met incredible men and woman of integrity who I truly respect talking about issues that I highly value, but find myself slowly drifting into a daydream half way through. When you are talking to groups you will want to take a look at not only what you say, but how you say it. Think about the last time that you presented and ask yourself, ‘is there a way that I could have made it more practical, exciting and/or interactive?’ Here are some ideas that I have come up with in response to that question: ~If you can encourage, and sometimes even pry out, involvement from your team they will get much more out of it than if it is something that reminds them of their 3rd hour history class in high school. Include questions and seek out responses. ~Don’t just teach them about a topic, present a story from your own life and then ask for some from theirs! ~Figure out how much to impart into those that you are leading and how much I need to take the opportunity to just shut my mouth and let them experience things. ~Know the people on your team and encourage leadership from those who you think would benefit the group. Remember, people respect men and women who can back up the words that come from their mouths. People also respect those who make the most of each time that they open their mouths. “Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something!”