A Leadership Lesson From A Youth Ministry Veteran: Part 2

In my previous post I talked about the audacious faith youth ministry veteran Byron Porisch. Last weekend, I was able to share some fun memories about Byron at a celebration his church threw for him. Byron is the guy who gave me my opportunity to move for England to the United States twelve years ago. He’s also battling an aggressive brain cancer and I would love for you to pray for him and his family.

Today, I want to share a key leadership lesson that has made a huge difference to me and the way I lead others in my ministry. Understanding and living out today’s leadership lesson from Byron is a foundational lesson for every leader. Failure to learn this lesson can be devastating…

Secure Leadership

I’ll never forget the question I once gave Byron in my early years of youth ministry. I will never forget the impact of his answer and exactly what it meant.

Me: Byron, how is it that students, volunteers, and parents are so attracted to your leadership? What makes you so magnetic? 

Byron: (Laughing hysterically), Ha! I’m so uncool, it makes me cool… 

Now, you might be reading this and wondering how this statement can be life altering and so impactful? Let me explain what Byron really meant by this statement. What he was actually saying was:

I’m so comfortable with who I am, people are attracted to my confidence in God’s unique identity for me… 

Again, you might wonder how I am able to take Byron’s statement and arrive at the statement above? You see, at the time Byron made this statement, he was in his fifties, had been in ministry for over twenty five years, and was clearly the older guy in the room. While many others were getting out of youth ministry, Byron continued to live and breath youth ministry and pour into younger leaders like me.

When he referred to being “uncool” I knew exactly what he meant. You see, Byron didn’t care about age or titles, he embraced his uniqueness of the day. While the students knew he was the older guy in youth ministry, they also saw his great confidence, great passion, and being completely secure in being the “uncool” older guy.

In our world today, people are drawn to leaders who are confident and comfortable in their unique identity. Yes, we will follow charisma and vision, but they will not follow insecurity for long. So often, because of insecurity, leaders will change who they are, and so often with devastating results:

  • They compromise their ethics. 
  • They try to be a friend to students instead of being a leader
  • They promote themselves above Jesus
  • They constantly play the comparison game and live a life of leadership inferiority
  • They leave a ministry too early because they think they don’t have what it takes
  • Their insecurity eats them alive and they dampen the growth of leaders around them

There are many I could add to this list, but I think you get the point. Again, the bottom line to all this is:

When we lead with confidence and assurance of our unique identity, people will follow us.

What’s your take away from this? How has insecure leadership impacted you? How have insecure leaders impacted you?

Phil <><



photo credit: via

  • Josh Kittleman

    Great great thoughts Phil.
    If gone unchecked, insecurity will eat at us and keep us from directing the attention on what truly matters – Christ.
    Praying for Byron.


  • http://twitter.com/jeremyatcamp Jeremy Linsley

    My parents have been involved in youth ministry for over 35 years (as lay leaders). They are definitely uncool. But their uncoolness also shows students that someone has a genuine care for them. An old/uncool youth leader is most likely not trying to gain adoration or acceptance from the teens, they are there to give love. They also demonstrate that they do not see youth ministry as a doorway into “real ministry”, but prove by their longevity that they believe ministry to youth is vital.

    Praise God for Byron and for men and women like him…


  • philbell

    Thanks Jeremy! Yes, I am too thankful for Byron!

  • philbell

    Agreed! Our focus should be Christ!