Today, I was talking to someone about all of the awesome things the Lord has been doing through the student leaders in our ministry. As I was telling them about one of the projects a student was working on, they said, “Really? A high school student came up with that?” What bums me out about that story is that I wasn’t surprised that they said that. People have such low expectations of what a high school student can do and what’s even worse is that the high school students believe them.
One of the most important things I have learned since I started working with student leaders is that they all (even the confident ones) have a “wall” in their minds about what they think they are capable of. Often, that wall is holding them back from executing the things that God has put on their hearts. Our role, as their pastor, is to tear that down.
So how do we do it?
We need to make sure we do 3 things:
Empower: We need to be empowering our students to pursue the things that God has put on their heart. Ask them how they are gifted. Ask them what people group (elderly, hospitalized children, military families, etc.) their heart has been breaking for. Then push them to go and do something about it! Part of that means actually empowering them. Maybe that means giving one aspect of your ministry to a student; empowering them and trusting them.
Mentor: Mentor your leaders through the process of turning an idea into a reality. Teach them what it takes to organize or run an event or ministry. Walk through their ideas with them. Not every idea is going to be a winner, and if it isn’t, help them understand why it wouldn’t work out (maybe talking it out with them will even help them come up with a whole new approach to their idea). If they come up to you with something that is already great, walk them through the steps to improve it and make it happen.
Grow: We can’t be throwing our students into leadership positions without first growing them as leaders. Some might know how to be leaders at their school or on their sports teams, but they might not know what it means to be a leader at their church (spiritual leader). Teach them what it means to lead like Christ. Help them discover their spiritual gift(s) and overall leadership style. Help them grow into confident spiritual leaders.
So far, we have seen this work in our church. It has been so great to see students leading and creating new ministry teams and service projects! Right now, we have a student developing an art/craft ministry, another student working on a ministry where students write encouraging letters to various people groups and organizations, and even a student working on a student pastoral care team!
What about you? What are the student leaders at your church doing in your ministry?