Is it just me, or does it seem like it’s getting harder and harder to get student leaders to commit to, and follow through with, an extended leadership role? Certainly there are exceptions to this… but those students seem to be fewer and far between… and when we encounter them around campus (or within our ministries) they are unmistakable!
In our consumer-driven society (and campuses), it should come as no surprise to us that more and more students are finding it harder and harder to stay committed to one leadership role, and easier and easier to jump from one thing to the next… one leadership role to the next… And when they do, I’m not sure that they’ve given much thought to how their choices will impact the contexts and relationships that they’ve left behind.
Today is our second day of campus-wide leadership training on campus. More than 300 leaders representing: Welcome Week staff, Residence Life, University Ministries, Student Activities, SGA and have come back early to experience common and area-specific training. Our theme for the past few years for this leadership initiative known as Week 1 has been: One Spirit, One Purpose.
Thus far it appears that a common thread of the messages given, and conversations had, have been “commitment” related. I think this is a MUCH needed theme to be covered with our student leaders. In fact, I’ll be co-presenting a workshop today with a colleague from our Student Affairs office, that will focus on what we can learn about leadership from one of the most significant commitments we can make: marriage.
The connections we want students to takeaway?
Marriage (and leadership):
- needs to be viewed as a calling
- is an unfolding process
- requires preparation and ongoing attention to growth and development
- requires commitment, accountability and responsibility
- needs to be grounded in faith and fueled by the life-giving love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ
- is an opportunity to give yourself away… to something bigger than yourself
- is not for everyone
The harsh reality that 50% of marriages end in divorce can also tell us something about what we might expect from our student leaders in the year ahead. For too many reasons to count, some legitimate – many others not so much, close to half of our students will likely not have the kind of positive leadership experience that they had anticipated. They will find themselves overextended, frustrated, overwhelmed, under-supported, under-appreciated and unfulfilled…
Or they might just find themselves bored, tired, or simply more interested in something new.
When they leave, for good or bad reasons, the void that they leave will be felt… and that void has the potential to leave a debilitating wake of ruin in the aftermath.
The reality is that life will happen, even to the best of our leaders, and they will need to step away from their role to deal with it… and we need to support them when that happens!
But for the increasing number of student leaders that seem to find it all to easy to just flake out on their responsibility as a leader within your ministry, we must begin to have more intentional conversations with them, from the very beginning, about what it means to commit to a leadership position.
It might not be as important as the wedding vows that many will one day make, but learning how to be young people who are more responsible, accountable and willing to follow through with commitments that they make can only serve them well in life… both now and later.
At the end of our workshop(s) today we will give students the opportunity to write their leadership vows – the things that they want to be about and commit to this year… and then we will charge them to see their vows through to completion.
Student leaders – the heartbeat of our ministry efforts and the future leaders of our world – what a high calling to be involved in their lives and their development as the next generation of faithful leaders in the world!
How do you get student leaders to commit? I’d love to hear about it!
Grace and peace to you as your work with student leaders this day!