youth ministry, student leadership, student ministry

Student Leadership Bit Me in the Butt

By Doug Franklin March 4, 2014

Two student leaders start dating and before long they go too far. Word spreads and rumors fly. Right away you meet with the two students leaders because you worry about the decisions they’re making and you care about their hearts. It doesn’t dawn on you until later that other students were affected by the two student leaders’ actions.

When student leaders fail it can affect the whole youth ministry. Most students think that if you’re a student leader you must be perfect or close to it. They get this idea from us. We put our the qualification for being a student leader with the application. Students assume only “good kids” get the position of student leader.

When student leaders fail it can also make you look bad. After all, you picked them as leaders and you wanted a student leader program. You thought it would help the students grow and all it did was help them hook-up. When student leaders go bad it can seem like you have lost control of the ministry.

Three thoughts that might help:

1. Student leadership is always messy. If people tell you any differently they are not shooting straight. Prepare yourself for this reality and prepare your church. Adult leaders fail all the time and we recover; give students the same grace.

2. Be transparent. Never try and hide the truth. Students expect you to slide it under the rug and pretend like it never happened because that’s what we do at church. Be open when its appropriate, stick to the consequences of sin and allow the young leaders to learn. Remember: our actions are always teaching something.

3. Provide for restoration. If your student leaders have made a moral failure make sure they have a path back to ministry. Walk the long road with them. Meet with them on a regular basis and be consistent with them. Challenge, encourage and hold fast to your commitments. This will show them true love and your commitment to them being leaders in our churches.


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