Applications for our student leadership program are opening up again in a few weeks and it has me reflecting on what I look for in a student leader. Over the past week, I decided that I want our student leaders to be a leader third. Before they can be a student leader, they need to be a Christ follower first and a servant second:
1. Christ Follower
Student leaders are the ones that make things happen. But one of the first things I tell student leaders is, “this isn’t ASB.” I think it is important to make the point that they aren’t planning events and running ministries just for fun, they are doing it to help fulfill the purposes of the Church. A leader of a ministry isn’t like the leader of a club. A leader of a ministry is the spiritual leader of a group of people. In order to have a team that can be spiritual leaders of your ministry, you need to have a team of students that are pursuing the Lord. Before you say yes to putting a student in your leadership program, make sure you know what is happening in their spiritual life. Ask them questions about their relationship with the Lord, what their quiet times look like, where they are being challenged, etc. Dig deep. Don’t be afraid to talk to a spiritual leader in a student’s life or even a parent!
Is this student serving already? One of the mistakes that I have made is overlooking this on some applicants. In my mind, I thought, “I can help motivate them to start serving.” But that isn’t something you should have to say about a student leader. Student leaders are the ones that are already serving in your ministry. Sometimes this means saying no to popular students in your youth group. When I took a closer look at our “core” students, I found that most of them weren’t serving. Saying no to students like this might be tough, but it is a perfect opportunity to really challenge them and take them to the next level. Do be on the look out for students that are serving on ministry teams, showing up to serve projects, staying after events to clean-up, or just students that are servants in your ministry.
When I look for students that have leadership potential, I look for those two things. The more I develop our program, the harder I get on student leadership applicants. Don’t be afraid to say a few no’s. Letting in students that aren’t ready can make your program ineffective, or worse, harmful to your ministry. Saying no to some students is okay. It is healthy for your program and it is helpful to grow the student that needs to grow.