Burn out and young leaders. Four ways you can empower and equip your young leaders and help them avoid burnout

Owen Hughes

What a rollercoaster year 2020 has been. Who would have thought that we would have not had a normal church service in months? 2020 has been filled with so many differences compared to normal life, with 2021 continuing the trend. Nothing leads to change more than chaos. As leaders it has been a challenge as we have ventured into the world of online and social media – an area often overlooked prior to COVID-19. It has been encouraging to see so many churches think of innovative ways to engage with people online and embrace new ways of doing things as the pandemic continues to reach people for the kingdom.

Today though, I hope to share with you an observation I have had over the last few months. Many of our churches have relied upon young leaders to help edit, create, and post content online. As a generation who have grown up with technology, they have appreciated the opportunity to help churches continue to share the gospel and function within the new way of doing things and have been a tremendous asset to many churches across the world.

What has been worrying however is the rate of burnout in young leaders, due to the sheer volume of work that is being asked of them. In what seemed like ‘overnight’, Pastors were racing to understand how to effectively use Social Media, Adobe and Camera equipment to be able to continue sharing the good news of Jesus each week and trying to find people who knew how to use these tools for the kingdom. However, as time has gone on, many young leaders are frustrated, burnt out and leaving roles in churches, due to the overwhelming nature of the roles they have found themselves in. None of us want this for anyone. By God’s grace I have not experienced these challenges first hand in my ministry role. The concerns I raise in this article spring from conversations I have had with a number of friends who have reached breaking point.

Today we are going to look at four ways you can support, serve, and care for your young leaders to help them be more effective and passionate about what they are doing.

1 – Ask them how they are doing

Mental health issues are on the rise due to lockdown and the pandemic. People have been forced to self-isolate and keep away from friends and family. Loneliness and isolation are huge problems for your young leaders. As a married, young leader myself, working in a church which has chosen not to meet in person since March, loneliness is very real. Your young leaders could be going days, weeks without any social interaction as they navigate the current state of the world. They are concerned about their future, their jobs, their family and friends – and are most likely on their own with their thoughts. As leaders it’s important to do our best to support them, asking how they are doing and checking on them regularly.

One thing I feel that they would greatly benefit from would be a phone call or zoom where you talk about something other than ministry activities. They will feel empowered and supported by this as they are able to communicate with you about what is going on in their lives.

Another suggestion would be to make sure they are taking time to relax and rest. Ensuring that they are spiritually and emotionally healthy will pay dividends. Your leaders will feel honoured that you asked them to help to produce your digital content. However, just checking in with them regularly will empower them to continue doing so.

2– Try to understand things from their perspective

Each one of us have been given different gifts by God. Your young leaders have grown up with technology and social media as normal parts of life. They have a strong understanding of how it works and how to use it effectively.

If you are a leader from an older generation, maybe technology and social media are not your strong suits. Often, confusion about how best to utilise technology can happen between generations. I have heard of several instances where leaders have had ambitious ideas as to how they can share a message or some insight for their church online. They then pass this onto their young leader who ends up working far too long on a project or post due to miscommunication and a lack of understanding of the practicalities needed to make it happen.

Neither party are in the wrong; however communicating with your young leaders on the practicalities of what you are doing will benefit you both. Clearly communicating will allow you to work together much better and produce the best possible content for your online platforms, whilst ensuring that feelings of resentment don’t stir within.

3 -Let them have a voice in what is happening

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who frankly, just doesn’t really know what they are talking about? It can be frustrating to hear someone talk about something when they have never actually done what they are talking about.

If you have a young leader who is running your social media and creating content, let them have a seat at the table. Craig Groeschel says, “If you can find someone who can do something 50% worse than you, let them do it and watch them grow.” Accordingly, consider letting your young leader take the lead in how you approach content creation online. Trust them and allow them to create content they will be inspired to produce. Ask them what content that they think the online audience needs to hear, and what methods work best to engage those who are not engaged online.

If you give them the opportunity, they will take on the challenge to see the ministry grow and be empowered by your trust in them. Your young leaders were probably chosen by you because they hold qualities you value. When you empower them this way, they will feel honoured and privileged to be given the opportunity.

4 – Invest in them

Something 2020 and the pandemic has taught us all is the cost of high-quality digital equipment. I remember looking up prices for computers and cameras for our church and was astounded by the cost of some items.

Many young leaders are using their own equipment to do this which is leading to worries about the financial costs required to keep up with what the church wants to produce. I know that talking about finances can be a touchy subject. However, here are some ideas of ways you can invest in your young leaders to help them make their job easier and improve the quality of what you are producing.

    • Set them up with some form of training: You can find courses online on video editing, content creation for social media for little to no cost. Find some of these to help enhance the skills of your young leaders. Doing this will give them confidence and the skills to support you and the ministry you are serving. .
    • Make sure they have the equipment for the job they are doing: When it comes to editing video, it takes a lot out of your computer. Talk to your young leader and ask them if their equipment is capable of doing the job that is needed. If not, consider investing in some equipment to help with this. .
    • Do what you can to support them financially: Maybe your young leader was let go from their job in the pandemic, or they go above and beyond to support you and the ministry. Consider how you could bless them for all the work they have done.

Most young leaders are truly honoured to be able to support their leaders and the ministry. Indeed, their generational mindsets are motivated to make a difference and see people’s lives changed by the gospel. Many of them feel the value that you have placed on them as members of your team – especially as we have been passing through what has been some of the most challenging of times. No doubt, we have all grown through these experiences and looking forward, can make whatever changes are necessary to make 2021 and even more fruitful year.

If you have any questions on what I have written, feel free to contact me via email at owenahughes11@gmail.com .

Cheering you on!!

Owen Hughes


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