Developing a Student Leadership Team: Know Your Why

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Why do we need to learn this? When will I ever use this in real life? 

And so goes the familiar refrain in math classes all over the country. The core question being asked reveals an innate desire in each of us: we want to understand why?

As we learn to pour into and develop leaders around us, whether students or adults, understanding why we are setting out on this journey sets the guardrails for our process.  

What follows are three answers I’ve used to the question of why:

  1. To lighten the load. One church where I served had very little adult involvement, and even less interest in serving. As the student ministry began growing, I realized there was a significant need to help get simple tasks accomplished, so we established a student leadership team. Students on this team led worship, set up the room, prayed over requests and chairs, greeted, ran media, and filled gaps as needed. This was a remarkable team that met a specific need in that season.
  2. To bless others. Sometimes, establishing a leadership team isn’t about what it does for us, but what it provides for others. Some people (students included) are simply waiting to be invited to serve. Then, once the invitation has been extended, they find incredible joy in jumping in and finding their role and their place with all that’s happening. Having this why changes our approach—we are not inviting people to join just so they can serve us, but because it serves them. This is true for students, as well. Providing a student an opportunity and place to serve is an incredible way to help them discover the purpose God has for their life!
  3. To grow ourselves. The most intentional I ever became about developing a student leadership team was when I started to become intentional about growing myself. As I started to explore what it meant to grow in leadership, I invited students along for the journey. We embarked on a process that led all of us to new heights, and something for which I’ve been incredibly grateful all along the way.

Now, obviously the best why is a mix of the three reasons listed above, or maybe even something you’re going to develop on your own. The importance is coming up with your why and sticking to it.

If we have no vision and no direction, we will wander aimlessly. Discover your why.

Want to Develop Others? Start Here.

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What does it take to start a leadership team? More specifically, for student ministers, what does it take to develop student leaders? I’m going to spend some time over the next few weeks hashing out some of my thoughts. I hope they help!

As I’ve been on a journey of intentionally growing and developing leaders around me, there’s one thing that I am slowly but surely becoming more and more certain of: the importance of growing ourselves.

Put another way, we can not expect to grow other leaders if we do not have a growth plan for ourselves.

Seems like a simple statement, right? But I think it’s one of the biggest hang ups we, as leaders, face. 

As ministers, it’s too easy for us to settle into an event planning mindset-planning for the next program that’s never more than 7 days away. Then add the major events we plan, and with minimal effort our calendar is filled. 

We become very good at doing our job, but miss the benefit of the work we do. 

That’s why it’s important to think through what you’re doing to develop as a leader. Are you growing? Are you being intentional about your growth? Do you have goals that you set and visit regularly? 

Let me try this again. Answer these questions on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 6 (considerable growth).

  1. How much have you grown as a leader in the past 12 months?
  2. How much have you grown as a leader in the past 6 months?
  3. How much have you grown as a leader in the past 3 months?

What’s your answer? Do you see a trend? 

Maybe you’re satisfied with your answers, and if so, I’m thrilled for you! 

Maybe your answers are a little discouraging. If so, I’m cheering for you!

Maybe your answers are inconclusive. If so, I’m cheering for you.

Ultimately, if we want to help those around us grow, we have to take the initiative to grow ourselves. John Maxwell says, “We cannot lead anyone farther than we have been ourselves.”

So, how do you grow yourself? There are so many ways, but here’s one of the things I’ve done the past three years: set goals for growth. Pick a date about 3 months out and set a goal to read X number of books. Then, be intentional in doing so. If there are questions to be answered, answer them. If there’s an evaluation tool, use it. Then, after the set time, evaluate and see how you’ve grown. Then adjust and grow some more.

I’m curious. If you’d say you’ve grown lately, what have you done? What works for you?

Is This the Most Exhausting Part of Leadership?

Redundancy is not what they put in the brochure to recruit you to be a leader.
Redundancy is not flashy.
Redundancy is not exhilarating.
But redundancy is necessary.

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I hate to be a broken record, but today I want to remind you of what may very well be the most exhausting and least flashy part of leadership.

The Redundancy of Leadership. I’ve written about it before (fitting, right?). You can read about it here, here, here, and even here.

Redundancy is not what they put in the brochure to recruit you to be a leader.

Redundancy is not flashy.

Redundancy is not exhilarating.

But redundancy is necessary. In fact, learning to master the art of redundancy may very well be the key to unlocking your leadership.

If you’re too flaky, moving from one point to another, then it’s difficult for someone to follow your leadership. Have you ever tried to chase a fly? Following a leader without redundancy is very similar to that–you can try to guess their next move, but there’s no real way to know.

If you’re too redundant, the people with you feel like they’re staring at pot of water waiting to boil.

Your role as a leader, is to find the magic mix of redundancy that keeps the vision alive and keeps the mission moving forward.

Redundancy is not flashy, but it’s absolutely necessary. Hang in there, and keep reminding the people you lead of the mission you’re working towards. You can do this!

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