All week, I’ve been discussing the mistaken assumption that student leaders will eventually “appear” organically, without a lot of effort on our part. (If you need to catch up, start here.)

For the Fridea this week, then, I wanted to throw out some methods that will help us find those non-apparent-but-still-important potential leaders.

1. Offer ministry-wide chances to apply for leadership positions. Even if you do “strongly urge” the students you already know to apply, there should be a period to see what “urging” God might want to do without your help! The application process isn’t just busy work, either; it lets you know who’s interested, lets you get to know some new students, and is a great chance for discipleship – even when you need to say No.

2. Build “get to know them” opportunities around the topic of Leadership. In sort of an extended version of #1, consider holding a leadership training – for anyone interested in the topic of Leadership or in potentially leading within your ministry. That lets you get to know potential leaders even before they apply! This is a fantastic way to disciple those who think they should lead (even when they’re wrong), build an understanding of expectations (even before students commit), and get to know future leaders who might not have made themselves obvious yet. And it keeps leadership-minded students from getting frustrated, because they have the chance to do something.

3. Build a strong, active leadership “farm team.” Besides your official leaders (those who actively lead other students), how many students simply volunteer within your ministry? Building service teams is one way for students to “get known” and even get trained in the context of areas they might end up leading.

4. Require student leaders to locate and raise up leaders behind them. This may be the next training session your present leaders need…

5. Teach your staff and leaders to identify faithful potential student leaders… even if they don’t fit the “profile.” We should be training staff and volunteers to notice faithfulness, not simply skill. And we should develop a culture of identifying-and-reporting potential leaders… year-round, not just when the next leaders are being chosen.