When Kim Kossie-McKee entered the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative (DVULI) in 2005, she had been a youth pastor for 15 years and was also serving as the Community Relations Director at a local Christian radio station. Her life was busy, she was trying to do too much and was having a difficult time turning some of her projects over to other members of her ministry. She felt like she was being crushed by her whole world, and constantly on the edge of burnout.
Then, she started the 15-month journey of the DVULI program, and learned the five core values – accountability, balance, empowerment, interdependence, and leverage – and her whole outlook began to change.
“It was revolutionary. At first it was absolutely overwhelming, because it shined a light on so many things that I could do differently. But as I began to walk it out, and trust the process, I realized that I was getting some tools that were not just for my today. They were intended to be a treasure trove that I would be living out of for the rest of my life,” McKee said.
While all of the core values work in tandem, she found that empowerment, interdependence, and balance were most needed in her life. McKee began to empower those around her and trust them with taking over some of her projects; she partnered with likeminded organizations to help accomplish common goals; and she finally achieved balance in her life.
McKee wasn’t the only one who benefited from the DeVos training. As she began to model the core values, ministry leaders and co-workers began to see a significant, sustainable change in the way she lived and worked, and she started training others in the leadership principles she had learned through the DeVos training. McKee also started sowing the seeds of the core values into the lives of the youth in her community. She was helping them to learn how to think differently (working smarter, not harder), and about the importance of balance in their lives.
Over ten years later, she’s still pulling out of that treasure trove of resources and information and integrating the five core values into her daily life and ministry.
“The beauty of it all is that your life is continually evolving. At that time I was single, but now I’m married so balance has a whole new meaning now, interdependence has a whole new meaning now. That’s the beauty of it – the core values and principles are tailor-made, they grow and adapt and change with you,” says McKee.
For those who are considering applying for the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative, McKee advises that you need to be willing to make the investment in yourself, and be open to change. The 15-month journey will have a positive impact on your life; it will help maximize your potential as a leader, and give you valuable tools to add longevity to your time in youth ministry.
“If you want to see God use a tool – because ultimately, He’s the agent of change – this is one of the tools that He brought into my life that has been an embodiment of Ephesians 3:20 – ‘Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us’ – this program has been a manifestation of that in my life,” said McKee.
“The DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative is a ministry, and if you want that opportunity to grow in a ministry setting that will honestly impact your life for generations to come, then it’s a great program for you. If you’re open to change, and you see the need for change, you won’t be disappointed.”
Kim is convinced that what the DeVos program invested in her contained just what she needed for longevity in ministry with disadvantaged urban youth.