student ministry, youth ministry, student leadership

How To Develop A Student As A Leader

By Doug Franklin June 11, 2017

In a recent LeaderTreks Youth Ministry survey, we asked youth pastors if they thought leadership development in youth ministry was important. An overwhelming 76% strongly agreed that leadership development is important in youth ministry. But, when we asked if they had a comprehensive leadership development program in their youth ministry, only 10% indicated that their church had such a program. The disconnect is clear. As youth workers, we want to develop student leaders, but we don’t know how.

So how do you develop a student as a leader?

Determine your core beliefs

The first step to developing strong leadership in our youth ministries is to determine our core beliefs about leadership. Understanding these beliefs is essential to teaching leadership; otherwise, we are just having another meeting. LeaderTreks believes:

  1. Leadership can be learned
    Anyone, at anytime, can develop this teachable skill and exercise leadership by applying specific principles.
  2. Everyone can benefit from learning about leadership
    Learning about leadership will help students identify areas of their lives that need improvement. Better still, it motivates them to make those changes.
  3. Leadership changes everything
    Great leadership is always the driving force behind great change. People look to leaders who stand tall and change lives in the midst of uncertainty. Leaders have a profound effect on those around them.

These leadership truths are important for us to remember. Leadership is not just for the responsible students. Leadership development will produce character, spiritual growth, purpose, and maturity in everyone. As a result, some will find themselves in leadership roles within their team. For a few, it will lead to making sacrifices that will change the world.

Implement a leadership development model

The second step to developing strong student leadership is to commit to implementing a model for leadership development.

At LeaderTreks, our model looks something like this:

  1. Students must learn a set of leadership principles or universal truths about leadership.
  2. Students must apply these principles to real leadership experiences where their decisions lead to success or failure; then they must live with the consequences.
  3. These experiences have to be challenging; students have to move outside of their comfort zone for transformational change to take place.
  4. Evaluation is the key that brings the process together. When students learn to ask tough questions, they discover how to apply those leadership lessons to their lives.

Much like discipleship and evangelism, we feel leadership development is the key to seeing the church grow and the culture change. It’s our belief that the church is one generation away from a leadership void and if we don’t intentionally develop leaders, the church will struggle. Yes, leadership development is a process; it doesn’t happen overnight. Students need to have multiple experiences in leadership roles so that they may understand the pressure to lead and the humility needed to follow. But with the right core beliefs and a clear model that we can implement, we can each begin to develop student leaders in our ministries.


About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More