I LOVE Students who lead the way. I LOVE seeing students embrace their faith holistically without compartmentalizing their relationship with Christ and their everyday life. I LOVE seeing students model to friends, peers and strangers what following Jesus is. I LOVE sitting in a room with a handful of students who are teachable & wanting to be used by God to impact their world and I LOVE teaming with these students in any way possible in life. I LOVE student leaders!
Student leadership has always been a part of every ministry I’ve led. Coming to a new ministry that was unhealthy I knew I needed change from the inside as much as from the outside. I needed students willing to be on board with who God is and what he can do in their lives, and I need students to lead the way towards healthy change.
There are a lot of variables with student leadership. It looks different in individual settings and ministry structures, and I think flexibility is key in developing student leaders. However I have four non-negotiable values that must be evident with student leaders.
1- Show up. They have to show up to large group gatherings, small groups, events, trips, and so on. Their presence is needed to be able to be an influence. I tell our students that you influence with words, actions, and your physical presence in people’s lives. If you can’t show up, you can’t influence. Now you’re dealing with teenagers so flexibility is key as certain seasons of their life can be crazy. I don’t rule with an iron fist on this, but it is a key factor.
2- Serve. A Student leader needs to be willing to serve. They need to serve in all aspects of their ministry. They need to be able to get their hands “dirty” to know what it feels like to give to others, even when it goes unnoticed!
3- Evangelistic lifestyle. If you’re a student leader you need to have a heart for lost people. Friends, family, strangers…you need to care about their souls. I want my student leaders leading the way with inviting people to outreach events. I want my student leaders sharing about conversations they’re having with lost friends. I want my student leaders to cry when a friend of theirs comes to know Christ and gets baptized, knowing it was because they were willing to have a conversation with that person or extend an invitation to their church.
4- Be teachable, moldable, and stretchable. I ask my student leaders to be open to being stretched, experiencing new things, and letting me speak into their lives. I tell them that they’ll be challenged, stretched, and may not like it but keep the focus on the main thing: students coming to know Christ, growing in that relationship, and they (student leaders) celebrating in what God is doing.
I allow student leaders to have a large voice in planning, feedback, thoughts, and ideas. I give a lot of trust and freedom as student leaders lead well. I also reward my student leaders A LOT. I intentional spend time having fun with just them. I treat them to opportunities that some others don’t get. I let them know that as a TEAM it is awesome sharing life with them!
Enjoy the journey of Student Leadership…I have yet to regret pouring life into teenagers to see them lead their peers to follow Jesus passionately!!