Q.  Mike, Tell me about your heart to develop leaders in YFC.

A.  With our team of dedicated staff at Suncoast YFC, I want them to be effective YFC ministry people and to grow in all areas of our mission. But also, I want them to be effective ministry leaders in whatever job they hold, whether it be in another ministry or business. That they would excel as a leader, guiding a healthy organization, that’s what we are wanting to see. We want to empower everyone and see them growing in their leadership wherever God is using them, YFC or other.  I think at regional conference the term that was used was “kingdom leader.” I really want to see my staff become true kingdom leaders.

Q. I understand that out of your heart for leadership you have developed a unique experience in your community. Share about that.

A. A couple of years ago, we started what we called “The Leadership Forum.” Once a month, from November to April, about 14 of us gather in a nice conference room in a board member’s office to develop our leadership skills and to grow our organization. We sit under some great teaching and study a leadership book together.

Howie, our gifted facilitator, walks us through the discussion. People love it. We all walk away with a lot of insight. We talk about issues we are facing in our businesses and with employees. We meet once a month for about two hours. Out of that has developed friendships and a bit of accountability.

Q. Who attends this Suncoast Leadership Form?

A.  The thing that makes this special is that it’s a mixture of people. This group is not just ministry people and not just current CEOs, but a good mixture of folks in all areas and stages. Of the 14 people involved, there are retired business owners, current business owners, pastors, and Executive Directors. Everyone benefits from the young new executive director to the retired business leader.

Q. What were some of the results you wanted to see out of having a variety of people there?

A.  I really gained a new passion for organizational health. Part of our responsibility as an executive director is to develop a healthy organization; that’s what happens in our group. Learning from these books and from each other, we’re gaining insight into what a healthy organization and an effective leader looks like.

Q. I imagine that as you grew in your leadership you have identified some healthy things in your chapter as well as areas to grow in would you share those with us?

A.  I think the healthy spots are the changes we have made. I started to develop and lean on a leadership team. Really empowering a leadership team to make a lot of the ministry decisions has freed me up to not wear a thousand hats. To see that team grow in strength, vision, and purpose was a big change here, and a good change.

An area we need to further develop is our leadership journey with youth from 5th to seniors in high school. We work with young kids all the way up.  We’re looking at clubs to camps and seeing it all a part of the leadership development of youth. It’s exciting and it’s challenging.

Q.  Back to the Suncoast leadership forum, how did you identify who you would like to be in this leadership forum?

A. I just sat down and thought through people who I thought might like to be involved. I called former board members, pastors I know, business owners, partners with Youth for Christ, people I knew and respected whom I thought would enjoy being together.

Q. What would other members say they have seen as results?

A. Another ministry had hit the ceiling. This forum has helped them go to the next level. My church has developed a new vision and experienced some growth. All have been impacted whether in little ways or major ways.

Q. How would you suggest another chapter get something like this started?

A. Having someone like Howie is great. Howie is very gifted. He has so much to share from his experience. But if you didn’t have someone like him, you can still do this concept with people coming together, but someone has to be intentional to make this happen. Having a gifted facilitator does take a forum to the next level. And, I’d say, most communities have a gifted facilitator for leading groups. They are out there; they would love those opportunities.

Q.  Do you think this group would have happened without you playing a role?

A.  We have definitely been the catalyst. We tend to be the one to pulling the community together. I think that YFC across the nation is positioned well to be that organization that says “Hey, let’s come together,” not that other organizations don’t want to partner, but YFC is in a place to initiate. YFC was made for that. That’s part of our DNA around the nation. I think people admire our kingdom mentality.

Q.  What are some of your favorite leadership resources?
A.       When it comes to practical tools, I like what I call “the Classics”:

21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell

Good to Great by Jim Collins

5 Dysfunctions of the Team and The Advantage by Pat Lencioni

7 practices of Effective Ministry by Andy Stanley

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

The Speed of Trust by Steven Covey

 I love YFC with a passion. The training videos online, all of our staff, but what has helped me grow the most is all these things outside of YFC.  As a national movement, it is important to look at all these great resources outside of YFC. We can learn about the five essentials and three story. I love it… I love it all. But it is so critical to know what it takes to have a healthy organization, how to develop trust, and how to work with a team.

After 35 years in YFC, I feel like I’ve just got the hang of this leadership thing. And a lot of that is due to the influences and lessons from a secular world. I just hope other leaders and YFC people realize that there is so much out there that will help our mission. I want them to be effective YFC people and exceptional leaders, leading wherever they go. We can learn so much by the great Christian leaders, the Andy Stanley and Bill Hybels. We can also learn much from Southwest Airlines, or Chic-Fil-A. They have created good models that are very Biblical; the lessons we can learn from them are amazing.


Mike Chaplinski has served with YFC for 35 years and before that as a teenager. He has been the Executive Director of Suncoast YFC (formerly Manatee YFC) for 28 years.

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