Over the past few years, I have noticed more and more students telling me they not only don’t care about leadership, they actually hate it. How can you hate leadership? What did it ever do to you? As it turns out, lots of bad stuff.
When I get into it with students about why they hate leadership, I start to understand they have a good point. The word leader gets thrown around a lot and many times parents and teachers use it as an unattainable goal that students should all be striving for, yet when they look at the world around them, every leader they see is letting them down. Teachers, politicians, parents and youth workers all play leadership roles in their lives; yet often times their leadership leads to disappointment for students. If that were not enough to sour them on leadership, student leaders in their world are just positional leaders who got there through looks and popularity and offer no real change or help. Our students are convinced that leadership comes through natural selection and if you’re not selected, why even give it a thought? This produces two kinds of people in the leadership world: those with it and those without it, and those without it may as well just start hating it now. I am starting to hate leadership myself. At least, that kind of leadership. Because this world and our churches need these students to lead today and in the future, what do we do to turn it around?
Leadership doesn’t hurt people – people hurt people. I know you’ve seen this statement before, but it was something about a gun and you really didn’t like it. But there is some truth here and as simple as it sounds we need to help students understand that leadership in itself is a powerful tool. In fact, nothing great in this world has ever happened without it. The problem is people who misuse it. So how to do we untangle the web? We need to start by teaching leadership as a set of principles that you apply to your life. Everyone can be a leader, for leadership is learned. For example, when I explain to students they are to use the leadership principle of intentional communication to bring concise and clear communication to their friendships and that through this communication, they will go deeper in their relationships, they quickly become interested. Their mindset of leadership changes, as they see that this is actually leadership and it can affect their everyday lives.
To turn this mindset around I believe we need to teach three points about leadership…
1. Leadership can be learned. Leadership is a set of principles that we apply to our lives. You can receive a free list of these principles and teaching points by going to www.leadertreks.com and checking out the free resource area.
2. Leadership can benefit everyone. There is this general idea that leadership is somehow a chosen position that someone magically invites you to become. Not true – everyday you can choose to be a leader or not to be. The decision is up to you. If today you decide to stand-up and start serving others you might be a leader. You don’t need a vote or an appointment; you just need a heart. Anyone can benefit from leadership because everyone can choose to be a leader.
3. Leadership can change everything. Remember when you were a student? Everything was decided for you – you couldn’t change a thing. Not today, for students now are making a real difference. If it’s the students who raise money for wells in Sudan or the ones who give up their shoes for prom and wear sandals, to the ones who are raising money to start a bank to make micro- loans. Students can and are changing everything – leadership has the power to do that.
We really need to change students’ mindset on leadership. The church is one generation away from being out of leaders. As I see it we have two choices: help this student generation understand the power of leadership by allowing them to lead now, or turn our backs and see the church suffer in twenty years. It’s not much of a choice.
Doug Franklin is the founder and president of LeaderTreks. LeaderTreks is a student leadership development ministry that partners with youth ministries across the nation to equip them to develop students as leaders.
Article used with permission of www.leadertreks.com