Recently, I was visiting a youth ministry with a large student leadership team. The student leadership program looked awesome. There were over twenty students leading many different teams (service teams, ministry teams, etc.) with two students overseeing them all.
It was impressive. Students were busy in meetings and planning sessions, but ultimately, nothing came from it. The teams kept meeting but they never led to any new initiatives. The focus of the teams simply became more and more meetings. I asked the youth worker how this leadership team got started and what their purpose was. He explained that it began when he identified all the areas in the ministry where students could lead, and then he simply put them in charge.
This youth worker had the wrong view of leadership. Leadership is not just being in charge; it’s leading others to do what they would not do on their own. In order to motivate and inspire others, young leaders need training in leadership principles. Understand and using these principles is the difference between frustrating leadership and successful leadership.
I asked him about what kind of leadership training the students had received, and the answer was none. I believe this is the biggest problem youth workers face in developing student leaders. They understand that students need to lead, but because no one has given them training they don’t know how to train their students. This youth worker believed that having a leadership program meant putting students in charge, and he was half right. He gave students the experience, but he didn’t balance it with training.
A balanced student leadership program has two ingredients: training and experience. The leadership principles learned in training allow us to evaluate the experience. Imagine the teachable moments you’ll have from this kind of evaluation and the deep development your students will have as leaders.
About the Author
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