leadership versus management in youthwork employment

This is a post that has been on my “wanting to write” list for a while. Now that I have taken a step back from the formal “youthworker” tag, I feel able to write it.
Many of the churches and Christian Organisations that I have had contact with have alluded to the fact that they want/require their youth worker/pastor to be a leader. This is a noble thing and one that should be admired. The difficulty comes when they receive a leader who begins to push the boundaries, challenge the status quo and starts dreaming of all the possibilities under the sun. It is too late, the youthworker is employed and it is only then that realisation hits – it was not a leader who was required, it was a manager. A manager would have kept things moving on, things will have grown but it would all have been within a safe framework, in keeping with organisational requirements, ensuring that would not push the boundaries too hard, would not challenge the status quo and satisfies the “safe harbour” mentality of the adults who ensure the paycheck arrives month by month.
Don’t get me wrong, we need leaders and we need managers and both will and can serve the young people effectively and faithfully. However, each church/organisation will require something quite different and the difficulty is found when recruitment starts, we need to know which gift we require at the point of employment. Get it right and we reduce the chances of having a problematic employment that potentially leaves another youth bod disillusioned and an employer nervous of its next appointment. There are times that we need to be sailing the high seas and times when we need to be in harbour – when making an appointment, you may find it helpful to review which season you are in.

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