You know, those people who mean so much to your ministry efforts — the ones who serve as extensions of you and the ministry you oversee. Those people who multiply your reach and effectiveness exponentially. Those individuals that magnify the effectiveness of your ministry because of the unique gifts, passions, and talents the bring to the table.
You know, those folks…
Do you have standards that might qualify (or disqualify) them for leadership within your ministry?
If so, what are they?
How did you come to that set of standards?
And how effectively have you communicated those standards to your leaders?
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve done this better some years, more than others.
And I’ve had students who have pushed back, for one reason or another, at different points along the way.
Our student leaders are also students — and with all of the new-found freedoms, their will desires (and temptations) to try new things.
And that’s one thing…
But increasingly, the students who come to our campuses, and find their way into our ministries, and eventually become leaders within our ministries, have long been exposed to — and in some cases, become entangled with — a number of harmful influences.
Some of these activities are straight up illegal, while others might be considered morally wrong and/or hazardous to one’s health.
Yet all — in one way or another — have become somewhat normative in our culture. Students see these things differently than most of us who are older, and many struggle to see anything wrong with what they’re doing.
They come to campus — some struggling, others fully taken, with one (or more) of these debilitating activities — and we begin to walk with them.
Some students will recognize their struggles for what they truly are.
Others will not.
Some will share their struggles with us.
Others will not.
Some students will strive for change and transformation in their lives.
Others will not.
And as all of these students walk with us, and become more involved with our ministries, some will aspire to leadership.
Which brings us back to the first question I posed about standards for leadership.
James 3:1 states:
Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
And if we are to understand leadership as the active manifestation of what we believe (or teach), then I think we should hear James strong warning to leaders as well.
So, if not many of us should become leaders… then what is the takeaway when it comes to recruiting and working with leaders who struggle, especially in light of our own limitations and imperfections.
We all know that leadership can be one of the most fertile grounds for growth and transformation…
But is a leadership role the best place for someone we know to be struggling?
What about the student leader who comes to us — mid-year — with a confession of a serious struggle, and a genuine desire to get help?
And what about the student leader who gets caught, or exposed, and doesn’t see the problem with the issues we raise?
Things are not as black-and-white as they once were — and in some respects that is a good thing.
And we’re definitely dealing with a generation that struggles with the legalistic nature of institutionalized religion.
But we’ve got to draw the line somewhere — right?
So when it comes to knowing how to talk with this generation of student leaders about what it means to be “Holy and set a part,” where do we being?
What do you think?
- What challenges you most about walking with this generation of student leaders?
- How do you define, communicate, and defend the standards you set for your leaders?
- Is there anything that would disqualify one of your students from leadership?
- How do you talk in black-and-white terms with a generation that only knows varying shades of gray? Or do you?
I’d love to know what you think!
Please take a moment to share your thoughts in the comment section below.