In any college ministry, you’ve got to have ways to tap into unnoticed leadership potential, apart from whom you know well, fellow staff members know well, or student leaders know well. I realize that raising up “leaders who are known” is nearly a mantra, and I’m really not saying that potential leaders shouldn’t face a “proving period” if they haven’t been proven through the normal course already.
But often that mantra gets misapplied to the level of potential future leaders, so that anyone who doesn’t check the right extroversion boxes or meet the right people or have the right schedule that allows for the right attendance record wouldn’t get noticed for several semesters (at best). This is what must be avoided.
I don’t know what that means for your ministry. It may mean asking every single participating student if they’d be interested in leading in the future. Maybe it means that every small group leader is always on the lookout – and is thinking outside the box, not just about those students who speak up the most. It probably means making it very clear that leadership opportunities are available, opening applications widely, and honoring your current leaders – so that those who are interested might be more likely to let you know. It probably also means pushing students who wouldn’t normally think about it, because some great potential leaders wouldn’t fit the category of “interested” at all.
Yes, with a bigger pool to draw from you’ll be saying No more often and running the risk of running people off. But that in itself is a good leadership development opportunity – and a good test of leadership potential.
Whatever the case, you’ve got to get all the way to the bottom of your ministry, allowing potential leaders to be found early and often. It will make all the difference to your ministry, sure, but will change those students’ lives all the more.