Leadership DevelopmentStudent Leaders

On Teaching Students to be Healthy


We’ve reached Day 4 — the final day — of our week of leadership training with our new student leaders.

Tomorrow we transition from training to serving.  New students will begin to arrive EARLY in the morning and we will spend most of the day helping these new community members move-in.

Before we leave our time of training and equipping, we must begin the conversation about how we can be healthy leaders that not only start well — but also finish well.

Helping student leaders to start, with the end in mind, is significant.  We don’t just want them to envision a good ‘beginning’, but a good ‘finish’ as well.

Good starts are easier to come by.  Student leaders are excited, optimistic and focussed.  But all of that can wear off after the newness of the position is gone, or student leaders experience a couple of bumps in their ministry ‘road’, and of course, the demands of the academic year will kick-in before too long as well.  If we’ve not helped students to think ‘beyond the start’ than they (and we) could be in trouble.

If we can help student leaders to envision what ‘success’ at the end of the semester (or year) might look like, than we can begin to talk with them about some of the practical steps they’ll need to engage in between the good start and successful end.

One of the keys, I believe, lies in the details of those in-between steps… and it has much to do with the health and wholeness of the student leader.

Student leaders will need to learn to intentionally care for themselves:

  • spiritually
  • emotionally
  • physically
  • socially
  • academically
  • nutritionally, etc.

While we, as campus ministry professionals, have been called to help them with this — there are many things that they will need to learn to do on their own — if they want to be healthy/whole individuals and leaders.

Often, leaders hold a false belief that their every waking moment must be used to serve others.  While this might sound like the Christ-like thing to do as a leader, the reality is that without taking time to care for oneself, we will quickly run out of anything of value to offer others.

Jesus himself modeled this idea of self-care to us.  He regularly withdrew to be with the Father, to be alone, to be with a few others — to eat, to pray and to rest… He was intentional to care for his own needs — and to set an example for all who followed him.

As we learn to care for ourselves, we become ‘better’ for others.  Leadership comes much easier when we are caring for, and investing in, ourselves.  Conversely, when we are neglecting ourselves — in the name of being others-focussed — leadership is much more difficult to come by.

Our leaders need to be increasingly healthy.  We need to teach them how to be healthy.  We need to show them how we strive to live healthy and whole lives.

If they don’t see it in us they won’t believe that we believe it’s really that important… and it won’t become important to them.

We must all learn to work with God, to become increasingly healthy and whole, so we do not limit the ways in which God can use us!

That’s how I see it… how about you?  I’d love to hear about what this looks like in your ministry!