As I’ve been watching students developed into leaders, I’ve noticed that their leadership skills grow in direct proportion to their growth in confidence. So how do we as youth leaders help our students grow in confidence? What are the intentional actions we need to take to help students believing in themselves? Youth ministries often focus on high-energy outreach events to reach more students for Christ. How about developing the leadership and confidence of your students in order to reach their friends for Christ?

There are three key focuses to growing studentsí confidence:

Confidence comes from understanding Godís design.

I’m not just giving you the “Jesus” answer. Most often students don’t think they’re special. They don”t think they have some great God given ability to change the world around them. They rarely see their potential. They need to understand that God made them for a purpose and God would never short-gift one of his children. God isn’t in the business of giving life to his kids and then cutting them off. Students don’t get it—yeah, they understand God will forgive them, but do they bank on God’s personal plan for them. For students to be confident they must know that God has their back. He’s their safety net, and in the end every Christ follower wins. Students must understand that they’re made for a purpose and God gives them all the needed tools to complete that purpose.

Confidence comes from positive life experience.
For students to grow in confidence they must have an experience beyond what they thought was possible. They must be placed in situations that require them to reach beyond themselves, to do something they thought impossible. The experience is reinforced when they receive recognition from their peers. This is why I love teaching leadership on mission trips and wilderness trips. I believe when students have ownership of these events they will be required to step beyond themselves and do more than they thought they could. The experience will give students the chance to recognize each others giftedness.

Confidence comes from a positive adult who is willing to risk.
Students must have a positive adult figure in their lives cheering them on to greatness. Adults need to tell students how they see God working in their lives. Adults also need to take risks and offer students leadership opportunities. Students need adults to connect the dots for them concerning how God has made them and how that giftedness can be used in real life. When students are given the leadership of an event and the success or failure of that event is in their hands, with a positive adult support, they will develop confidence regardless of the outcome.

Confidence doesnít happen by accident—create a plan for your students to develop into confident leaders.

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, a student leadership development organization, specializing in providing youth workers with tools and training to develop students into leaders. Doug’s blog contains lots of resources for youth workers and can be found at www.dougfranklinonline.com

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