Are You Worth Following?  4 Criteria to See If You Are

You are involved in youth ministry.  Therefore I have an assumption that you want to impact the lives of students.  In fact you probably want to mentor some of them.

The simple question I have is, “Are you worth following?

I really don’t care how cool you are or if you are immensely talented.  I am talking about other things; deeper things, things that anyone can have, if they are willing to work for them.

Here are 4 criteria that you need to see if students should be following you or not.

1. Substance Matters

I am not anti-technology, I rely on it as much as most people.  However, my fear is that technology has caused us to focus on flash and forget about substance.

Being a person of high character is foundational in our day and age.

  • Do you keep your promises?
  • Do lead by example us much as by your words?
  • Would you be comfortable for all of your students to know every website, video, show, movie that you have watched this month?
  • Do you guard your thought life?
  • Are you careful with your words?

If you want students and leaders to follow you or be mentored by you then your character must be high.

2. More Than Jokes

Everyone loves to laugh.  If you are funny, be funny.  However, you need to be more then jokes.  You also need to be knowledgeable.

Do you know what you are talking about?  We both know that you cannot be an expert at everything.  But could you point people in the right direction.

Remember, you are more than a social convener.  If this is true then you need to have more to offer then a social convener does.  The best way I know how to do this is to be a learner.  Whether that is by reading books, watching videos or having great conversations you must learn.

  • Are you learning about youth culture?
  • Are you learning about theological issues?
  • Are you learning about spiritual development?
  • Are you learning about the pastoral life?

The key is that you have a base of knowledge to offer students and leaders.

3. The Sunday School Answer Is The Right Answer

I always joke that if you don’t know the answer just say Jesus.  He is never a bad answer.  I know, a little cheesy but the principle is there.

Are you a lover of Jesus?  This question is different then, “have you said the sinners prayer.”  What I want to know is if there is a passion between you and Jesus.  Is it a love that is growing and being challenged.

If the answer is yes, fantastic, you have something to offer.  If it is no, then I hate to say it but I am not sure you are worth following.

4. It’s About Them, Not You

You don’t invest in students because it will make you look good.  You don’t do it because it will help the ministry to grow.

You do it because you love students.  This is why you got into youth ministry in the first place.  You love God and you love students.

Never forget your love for students.  When it is genuine students can sense it.  And when it is genuine you are worth following.

How about you?  Do you have other criteria that you could add to my list?  What are they and why would you add them?

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Tyson Howells

Tyson is the associate youth ministry director for Vanguard Youth Ministry Institute. He has been a youth pastor for many years in Winnipeg as well as in Edmonton. Tyson is passionate in seeing relational youth ministry that results in youth that are passionate about following Jesus. He still leads a small group at the youth group in his home church.


  1. Terri Sturgeonsays:

    I would add, are you willing to discuss the hard subjects or to answer the hard questions teens/youth have. If you cannot or are not willing…then are you worth following? Youth have a lot of hard questions that many times as adults, we want to just offer “fluff” but not real life answers they can really use in today’s youth society.

    • So true Terri. We need to take the time to engage in these conversations and give deep, meaningful and biblical answers. “Fluff” is useless to students and they will stop listening to you if that is all you offer.

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