Learning should not stop the day your ministry begins. Becoming an effective leader requires you to be stretched by shortcomings in order to become the best leader you can possibly be. Lifelong learners become stretched by shortcomings when they become aware of their shortcomings, make a conscience effort to learn from them and open themselves up to correction.

Becoming aware of your shortcomings
It’s pretty easy to fall into the trap of making the same mistakes over and over again. That happens when you become comfortable with a certain way of living. Whether your shortcoming is that you jokingly make fun of people or that you are always late, you have first got to recognize the shortcoming so you can get on the right track.

Conscience effort
After recognizing your shortcoming you’ve got to put forth a constant conscience effort into making a change. If you are constantly conscience, you are able to catch yourself before falling. You will catch yourself and be back on the right track. Accountability is very helpful as well in staying on track.

Open to correction
All of us can use a little correction now and then. Opening yourself to correction allows you to grow in ways unimaginable. People who are open to correction are teachable; they are the lifelong learners who are stretched by their shortcomings. Put aside your pride, you do not always know what’s best. Be ready to listen the next time someone corrects you.

Though you may fail at a particular task, it is important you get back up and try again. Lifelong learners are aware of their shortcomings, make a conscience effort to learn from them and open themselves to correction. With a desire, you too, can become a lifelong learner stretched by your shortcomings.

Ashley Fordinal is the Children’s Church volunteer at Family Life Church in Sulphur Springs, TX.

When life seems to be perfect; you are number one go-to in the ministry, you have many friends you can rely on, everyone always says how wonderful and vibrant you are, it’s easy to begin to think that you are, well, perfect. Or maybe you are the one that thinks that you are better than everyone, like people owe you and that you never do anything wrong and are, well, perfect. When you think you are perfect, you will not open yourself up to correction and become teachable and just remain, well, perfect. I don’t know if you’ve been told, but no one is perfect, no one except Jesus. Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”  Like this scripture says, none of are perfect, not until the day of Christ but we should open ourselves to correction and become teachable.

Accepting correction defined
Accepting correction goes beyond listening.  To truly accept correction means to change your ways.

How to accept correction
So, to first hear correction without writing it off as someone else picking on you, you’ve got to make a conscience daily decision to be teachable. Second, you want to check it out! Is what they are saying Biblical or are they just disagreeing with what you have said or done? You check it out by going to God and honestly asking Him to show you what is inside of your heart and look up what He says about it. Dig in a little further and look up sermons or check out some Christian blogs on the situation. From there, you will know whether to go to step 3 or if you are just fine where you are regarding this particular situation. Lastly, to truly accept correction, you’ve got to change your ways.

It is not easy hearing that you are not perfect and that you have impurities within yourself, but truth is, we all do. Impurities are, without a doubt, easier to ignore than to confront but I guarantee you that God has a plan for you and He wants to clean your heart from any impurities that may be holding you back. Proverbs 19:20 says, “Listen to advice and accept correction and in the end you will be wise.” So right now, ask God to search you, search your motives and your ways and accept any correction that is being given to you.

Next week: Giving Correction

Ashley Fordinal is the Children’s Church volunteer at Family Life Church in Sulphur Springs, TX.

One of our favorite quotes among our Pastoral staff is, “Leaders are learners—when you stop learning you stop leading.” These words have become commonplace in our church culture, but they’ve never been more true. As leaders, we have to be hungry to learn and willing to humble ourselves to someone else’s wisdom and experience.

So what makes somebody “teachable”?

Someone Who Asks Curious, Thoughtful Questions
Somebody who is curious and asks lots of good questions is hungry to learn. They are processing the information that has been provided, and now they’re seeking clarification for an even deeper understanding. They KNOW they need to learn and use the answers to those questions to propel themselves forward. If you want to show someone you’re listening, learning and leading, ask great questions.

Of the two, this one is easy. Obviously some folks are more inquisitive, and better at asking questions, but almost everybody enjoys learning life lessons and having teachable moments that they initiated!

Someone Who Is Humble Enough To Let Others In
It isn’t easy, but a truly teachable person allows others to speak into their life through exhortation, encouragement, correction, and coaching…even when they aren’t asking for it!

This one…is tough. To be open to correction you didn’t know you needed. To be coached in areas you thought you had already mastered. To be pushed in directions you don’t think you want (or need) to go. To learn from people who don’t know as much as you do. For instance, Josh knows almost nothing compared to me (Kurt…and apparently I didn’t write the “pride” article the other day), but I am shocked at how much I learn from him when I open myself up to his wisdom.

Chances are the older, more experienced, more educated and more “successful” you are, the less teachable you are, too. While this is natural, it doesn’t make sense. In the fast-paced, ever-changing world of ministry leaders simply can’t afford to quit learning. What I’ve discovered about so many of my youth ministry friends…and about myself…is that while we’re quick to ask questions and learn stuff we WANT to learn, we’re sometimes a little slower to become truly teachable.

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

Matt McGill doesn’t blog much, but when he does it is super solid. I’d say this post, Seven Ways to be Despised by Your Students, is his very best so far. Here’s a clip of it, head there for the whole article (worth the click to see his fancy graphics alone):

The first way to be despised is to teach WITHOUT encouragement, rebuke, or authority–a total strike out. Ultimately, this kind of teacher has nothing to say. When listeners tune in and find nothing but static, they will eventually tune out.

The second way is to teach with encouragement, but LACK correction and authority. It is a great thing to lift others up! However, sound teaching is more than telling people what they want to hear–and it’s made all the more worse by lacking conviction.

The third teaching pairs encouragement with authority, but skips over any correction. It is not enough be passionate and positive! Everyone carries guilt because of the mistakes we’ve made, and these need to be addressed.

The fourth teaching mistake is to encourage and rebuke without any sense of authority. This teacher says all the right things, but lacks the right confidence.


If you give students responsibilities within your youth ministry, sooner or later they will mess up. Not because they’re incompetent or irresponsible, but because they’re students and therefore only human. How you handle their mistakes can have an enormous impact on them. Here’s seven golden rules to keep in mind when your students mess up:

1. Confront them right away
If they have made a mistake, don’t delay in telling them. Pull them aside and confront them as soon as possible. Usually, they’ll know they have messed up and the agonizing wait for you (or any leader) to say something can be a huge stress factor for them.

2. Be specific
Be sure to tell them what they did wrong and be specific. Don’t leave it at vague stuff like ‘you should have organized the service better’, but name the facts: ‘you forgot to inform the worship leader of the changes in the service’. Check if they have understood what they did wrong.

This may seem like a total superfluous thing to you, but often people ‘close off’ once they know they’re going to get ‘reprimanded’ and they can remember completely different things from a conversation than what you were trying to get across. Add in the factor of students reacting emotionally to emotional stress and you can have a drama on your hands (‘he said I was a total failure and I completely suck at organizing’). So do make sure they understood you correctly.

3. Show the big picture
It’s important that they know what the consequences of their actions are, so give them the big picture. Hoe has their mistake affected the youth ministry? Not to make them feel guilty, but to make them aware. And there’s a huge difference!

4. Affirm them
After you’ve told them what they did wrong, do not forget to take the time to affirm them. Tell them how much you value their efforts, their time and hard work. Don’t say this because you feel you have to, say it like you mean it.

5. Keep it short
Nobody likes to be on the receiving end of negative feedback, so keep it short. This whole conversation doesn’t need to take more than say a minute or two.

6. Forgive them and trust them again
The most important thing for you after you’ve had this conversation is to forgive them and start trusting them again. This can be hard, especially if they messed up big time. But students need to know and feel that there’s room for mistakes, that they get second, third and even fourth chances.

7. Protect them
If possible, protect your students after they’ve made a mistake. While it’s perfectly okay to make a mistake, don’t underestimate what shame can do to students. Protecting them by not revealing their role can give them the courage to try again without losing face. I’ve more than once taken the blame for something others did and I never regretted it. I could take the criticism, they couldn’t.

A couple of years ago, two of my student leaders messed up big time when organizing an event. They signed a contract with a company without my knowledge or permission and it ended costing us about $1000. But years later, these guys came to me to thank me for how I’d handled this. Nobody ever knew what had happened and they had kept serving in youth ministry, both having learned a lot from their mistakes. My trust in them had meant the world to them and had given them the confidence to keep growing as a leader.

How do you handle it when your students mess up?

Rachel Blom is a Dutch youth ministry veteran, now living in southern Germany, who is focused on training youth leaders worldwide to grow in their roles through www.youthleadersacademy.com. You can also find her on Twitter via @youthleadersac

A lot of the things Jesus taught the disciples and some of the miracles He performed were on the way to somewhere else. The majority of the learning and ministry moments with your students may not necessarily be with in the small group time, but on the way to and from your group. Recognize these moments and make the most of them.

Compliment in Public / Correct in Private
Complimenting is important but easy. Celebrate and share their successes with others inside and outside the group. Correcting is equally important but NOT near as easy. Don’t shy away from a learning and growing opportunity for both you and the student. If a problem arises you may have to initially diffuse it in public, but address further in private. Don’t just correct, but also discuss the motives behind the offense, how a repeat offense can be avoided, the personal leadership potential in the student, and the influence they carry with others even if they don’t recognize it.

Challenge the student to step up (their influence outside the group)
As the relationship and trust grows with the student, take the opportunity to address weaknesses that you’ve noticed and current mistakes they’ve made. Don’t berate them about , but don’t completely ignore the situation, it could be the very conversation that creates a turn in that student’s life and it is a growing opportunity for the both of you. Refer to the last bullet for Correcting in Private.

Challenge the student to step out (of the boat)
If your group is doing a silly challenge, answering a tough question, or telling portions of their story and you have a quiet one continue to encourage their involvement and stress the value of their contribution to the rest of the group. Try to notice a student curious about stepping out. Look and listen for a growing interest and feed it.

Be inconvenienced
Anytime Jesus traveled, people met him on the road wanting Him to heal them. The disciples often saw these folks as an inconvenience and wanted to pass them by and keep moving. Students will often wait until the most inconvenient times to talk. While you are working on something else, talking to someone else, when it’s too late or too early. They’ve worked up the nerve to ask/talk about something; sacrifice the moment to listen and pray with the student for a possible life changing conversation.

Steven Moore serves at FaithPointe Church in Adamsville, TN. 6 years … still as his first church. That’s awesome!