One of my favorite scenes in Pirates of the Caribean: At World’s End, is the sword fight scene during the maelstrom where boats are getting sucked in and destroyed.

Sadly, many youth ministry team meetings feel this way. There’s lots of fighting and a sinking feeling. Another name for a maelstrom is whirlpool, and by definition,

whirlpool is a body of rotating water produced by opposing currents or a current running into an obstacle.

Some obstacles are man made due to not deploying key team dynamics.

Have you heard the phrase, “If you want something done, you have to do it yourself?” Well, the people who say that don’t know how or do not care to build teams. Doing things yourself and then complaining you have no help is a vicious whirlpool you don’t want to get sucked into.

Practice these three words in every meeting and you’ll steer clear, most of the time, from the sucking hole that shipwrecks many a team.

Affirmation

Think of yourself in a meeting with your volunteers whether there are many or one other. You have all these plans and ideas you want to spill out, but you may be forgetting that the meeting is not just about your ideas, its about meeting with people who want to share in your ideas.

Be aware that there are people on your team who need validation and praise. Why not start your meeting off with “thank you” and affirm each volunteer for something they have done in the past month that was a big help or made a big difference.

If someone makes a suggestion, tell them ” That’s a great ideas, I’ll consider it.” People want to know that they are being heard even if you do not agree with them.

Affirmation let’s your volunteers know you see them, recognize them and appreciate them

“No one ever told me I was pretty when I was a little girl. All little girls should be told they’re pretty, even if they aren’t.” ― Marilyn Monroe

Empathy

Same meeting. There are people in your meeting who are going through a hard time. Rather than speak about the pressure you’re under, recognize the sacrifices that have been made by some of your volunteers.

There will be times when people on your team will miss youth meeting, bow out of service and drop the ball. Rather than rebuke them, come along side of them and serve them. Tell them you appreciate them and you understand.

“Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another.” – Alfred Adler

Permission (Risk)

There are people in your meeting who are waiting for your permission to do something more, something great. They are waiting fo their ideas to come to fruition. If there is an idea shared by a volunteer, don’t dismiss it right way, think on it and if you feel the idea lines up with the overall vision of the ministry, let them go for it.

Bt what if they fail? So what? Do your best to serve them, equip them, see what they need to make it happen and then help, to the best of your ability, to make it happen.

Isn’t this risky? Sure, but the rewards are great.

Give your team permission during your volunteer meetings to speak freely, dream big and even disagree. Permission is powerful.

Keep in mind that your meeting isn’t about plans and charts, it’s about people. When you meet with your volunteers, this is your shot to fill them up so they can fill up the students in you ministry.

I love this quote

“Do I have the permission to succeed at this? Who am I to tell my stories?

“Who are you to not tell them?” a writer friend said to me. This writer friend — author of novels, memoirs, a short story collection — tells me that it is ownership, the acceptance of the fact that our stories make us who we are, that is the most complicated and treacherous part of what we do. When that ownership is withheld, we cannot succeed. When other forces say, no, that story is not yours, they have not only killed it and its place in your soul; they have killed you.” 
― Elissa Altman, Motherland: A Memoir of Love, Loathing, and Longing

You are giving your leaders the chance to tell their stories, to make their imprint upon the youth ministry. If I were to dust for finger prints on your ministry, would I only find yours? If so, this tells me you were’t leading the ministry, but protecting it from others.

In conclusion, if you leave these three words out of your meetings, you will more than likely see your team become frustrated and drift apart. If you make these words a regular part of your meetings, you will see your team come together and flourish. People go where they’re celebrated not where they’re tolerated. Celebrate often and your team will flourish.

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