choosing student leaders & two things to consider

Since student leaders have been on my mind, I thought I’d point out two small methods I feel are pretty important but are often avoided. Some might disagree – in fact, I’d love to hear some counterarguments here – but in other cases, I think college ministers might simply not have considered these, or they’ve got onebigreason for not taking these routes. (And onebigreason is rarely enough reason not to reconsider.)

1. Announce leadership opportunities to everyone.

It is certainly not uncommon for college ministries to choose next year’s leaders by word-of-mouth from present student leaders, or simply via the college minister taking note of particular people. I certainly recognize that these are two of the most valuable methods for finding / vetting leaders, but I don’t think they should stand alone.

Here’s who you’re less likely to discover this way:

  • introverts
  • newer members of your group
  • introverts
  • those who aren’t in the “in crowd” (not the school’s “in crowd,” but your ministry’s “in crowd”)

…and yet your leadership team will greatly benefit from having each of these types on the team.

Here are the benefits you avoid and the dangers you invite by keeping leadership selection “closed”:

  • the ministry misses a chance to highlight Leadership as an honored part of the ministry
  • it misses out on regularly giving potential future leaders something to shoot for
  • it misses the chance for the awkward-but-beneficial, discipling conversations with those who aren’t qualified to be leaders yet
  • it helps add to the feeling (or reality) of an “inside circle” and an “outside circle” within your ministry
  • mature Christians may not realize there’s even a chance to lead within your ministry, and they may leave before they realize it

2. Have an application process.

Again, word-of-mouth and personal relationship are important. But an application process both disciples the applicant and helps discern who’s fit for leadership (as well as what position they might best fill). Student leaders are integral to your ministry, right? So shouldn’t we be extremely judicious in this process?

Furthermore, requiring an application process:

  • highlights the qualities you expect in leaders
  • highlights the high calling of Leadership biblically
  • honors the role of Leadership within your ministry
  • creates a (positive) speed bump, keeping some unqualified leaders from applying (but realizing what they need to change)
  • allows ministers to get to know future leaders better
  • allows potential leaders to get to know the ministers and ministry better
  • helps distinguish between those who appear qualified and those who actually are


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