youth ministry, youth worker, unfair

Unfair: The Problem With Student Leadership Teams

By Doug Franklin April 10, 2013

“Student leadership teams are unfair!”

Ever hear that at your church? This can be a typical response from parents after you’ve put together the student leadership team because parents thinks that only the good kids, the super involved, or the favorites are chosen, and their student was left out. Oh, don’t worry; they’ll let you know about it.

When you use an application system for choosing who is going to be on the student leadership team people automatically think it’s unfair. Folks know how hard it is to be impartial. Truth be told, it’s hard not to pick the students you like. Here are a couple ideas to help:

1. Be specific about what a student needs to do to be chosen and stick to it. Make clear objectives. Too often youth workers are unclear about how a student gets in. This leads to confusion and frustration.

2. Don’t decide on a team number before applications are reviewed. Say you state that only 10 students are going to be on the team but you have 15 students who qualify? If you’re going to use applications allow the applications to determine how large the team will be.

3. Set up a review panel. Ask at least two other people who know students and understand the student leadership team to go through the applications and give recommendations. This will help you pick the best team possible.

4. Don’t keep the same team in place for a year. Have your student leadership teams serve for just one semester or just for the summer. This gives more students the opportunity to serve and grow. This also gives students in sports, drama or band to be on the leadership team and not be over committed.

To battle the negative perception of a application system, help your student leaders (and parents) understand the power of service. I often describe leadership to students as living in an upside down pyramid. We serve from the bottom, holding everything in place by our willingness to be last.  Focusing on this prevents us from creating leadership positions instead of creating servant leaders.

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