student ministry, youth worker, youth ministry

Leadership Experiences

By Doug Franklin September 22, 2011

What LeaderTreks is best at is using experiences to develop student leaders. You won’t find a LeaderTreks staff in front of a white board teaching students the definition of leadership. You will find us on mission trips using every experience to grow leaders; on mountain trails or in sea kayaks challenging students to reach their potential. So how do we use these experiences to develop student leaders? We follow this simple four step formula:

Communicate Expectations : I find that when I am communicating expectations I need to give the “why” or as we say, “the mission.” Students will always work harder when they have a purpose or know how their actions will impact the Kingdom. Help students understand how their actions will affect the outcome and give them a purpose to do great things.

Teach by Example: I believe students gain confidence when they have an example to follow. When placing a student in a leadership position, set them up to win. Don’t just give them information; give them hands on instruction with you as their teacher.

Release Students to Perform : Allowing the students to perform without letting them fail is the hardest part of developing leaders. Adults are often too quick to fix the problems that students encounter. Adults don’t want anything to go wrong, so they miss the opportunity to teach great leadership lessons.

On a recent trip I was challenging students to push themselves as they ran wheelbarrows of concrete up a hill. After every time I yelled “push yourselves, you can do it!” an adult leader from the church would yell “you’re doing well, don’t worry.” The truth is students are not doing “well” if they are not working to their potential. Keeping them in their comfort zones will never help them develop into leaders. You can make them happy, but it can’t make them great.

Evaluate the Performance: Evaluation is hard—but what I have found is that students want evaluation. When they are in a new leadership position, evaluation will accelerate their growth. Evaluation will also build trust and allow you to speak truth into their lives. Honest and clear evaluation will drive your relationships with your students to a new depth.

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