If you’ve worked with students for very long (or people in general), I’m guessing the following conversation rings some bells:
Student: I want to step up and be more of a leader.
Me: That’s great! Here are some things to keep in mind.
Student: ***Misses the next month***
A few years back I had a leadership team of students who had applied and gone on the leadership trip. Part of the application was agreeing to come to monthly meetings, but as the year waned on, our attendance started dropping, and not only to the monthly leadership meetings.
Now, I have a constant internal struggle about attendance expectations. I have come to the conclusion that I’m a rarity when it comes to church attendance. When I was growing up, I was at the church as much as possible. I didn’t have a bad home life (the opposite, actually), but I loved being together with other believers. For most of my life, I’ve been the kid (and now the guy) who hangs around the church building until almost everyone else has gone.
But most people aren’t wired that way, at least not with church attendance.
Sports, yes. Civic organizations, maybe. Weekly meals with groups of friends, yes. But church, for some reason that’s foreign to me, elicits a lower attendance commitment. (At this point, I need to clarify I’m not equating spiritual maturity to church attendance. I do, however, think our commitment to the body of Christ increases as Christ becomes a greater priority in our life.)
I have wrestled with the disparity between my commitment of attendance and others’ commitment for years. Over time, I realize it’s not fair to expect everyone to be as consistent to church attendance as I am (and was prior to being on staff). I’m wired differently, and that probably plays into why I do what I do.
As I began thinking about how to communicate to students interested in identifying as leaders the importance of attending, I landed on a simple phrase.
Leaders show up.
Simple, right? If leadership at it’s very core is influence, it is extremely difficult to influence a room you’re not physically in, especially early on.
If leadership influence grows through relationship, it’s even more difficult to build relationships with people you’re never around.
If we, as leaders, cannot commit to making our presence a priority, then how can we call ourselves leaders?
The same is true for me. If I expect to become an influencer in the lives of the people to whom I minister, I have to show up. The room should be better because I’m there. If it’s better when I’m not there, then it’s time for a reality check on my part.
Students need to hear this. Adults need to hear this. We need to hear this. Leaders show up. Your presence makes a difference, and it should be a positive difference.
Go be present today.