Tag: student ministry

Is This the Worst Student Leadership Mistake?

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What do you do when you have a student who shows great leadership potential?

Over the course of my ministry experience I’ve had a few students who seem to be a step ahead of their peers when it comes to reading and understanding a room. They have an intuition about them that makes them appear more mature and capable than everyone else.

So, it only makes sense to give them more and more responsibility, right? I mean, we want to develop student leaders. That’s kind of the point of what I write about here at 3QL.

Let me offer one caveat. And it’s one that is still fresh in my mind.

I never want to crush a potential leader’s spirit. I desperately try to avoid adding too much to their burden, but when a student has a high capacity, I find myself wrestling with this.

That’s why I’ve started reminding myself of the following thought.

Give students student leadership opportunities, not adult leadership opportunities.

If you want someone to feel the weight and worry of leadership, give a teenager the load you would expect from an adult. I’m not saying some teenagers cannot handle such responsibility, but they have the rest of their lives to be adults.

Put in the effort to help a student find appropriate levels of challenge for where they are. I want to avoid expecting a 14 year old, who shows incredible capacity for influence, to carry the load I would ask a 34 year old to carry. No one wins in that situation.

Instead, I want to help that 14 year explore leadership in appropriate avenues.

Stretch their thinking? Of course.

Challenge their abilities? Sure.

Help them grow their leadership influence? Absolutely.

But if I ask them to start adulting, they will burn out and I will give up.

So, how are you at this? Are you providing high capacity students with student leadership opportunities?

Flashback Friday #4

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I have a post it note on my computer monitor in my office that says: Not having THAT conversation is selfish.

I wrestle with this constantly. I dread difficult conversations. That’s why today’s flashback is a reminder for me as much as for you to not hide from hard conversations.

Here’s a glimpse:

The “right time” and the “necessary time” are two contrasting opportunities. The “right time” is much more of a gamble. I have a tendency to justify waiting by saying I am waiting for the right time. The right time, however, comes before the necessary time.

Click here to check it out!

The Repetition Key

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Practice makes perfect, or so the saying goes.

The past few years I have coached my oldest daughter’s basketball team. Right or wrong, one of the things I made them do was work on shots from the block. I wanted them to be able to make a shot close to the basket using the backboard.

We would have competitions to see who could make more. We would take turns. We would have timed drills, all with the purpose of helping them develop that one shot.

Why? Because you perform how you practice. If you practice making shots from the block, you have a higher likelihood of making shots from the block in a game. The math is simple.

There’s a rhythm to the repetition. Your muscle memory takes over at some point.

For me, in high school, I shot countless shots from “the elbow” of the free throw line. That was almost 20 years ago, but guess what: today, I can make an elbow shot almost without thinking about it. I repeated the process over and over, and it has stuck with me, somewhat.

Leadership is redundant. As we teach students the ins and outs of leadership, we have to embrace the redundancy.

It’s practicing block shots every practice, knowing eventually you can move further away.

It’s asking and answering the 3 questions every week, over and over, and seeing how the answers change.

It’s inviting those around you to join you as you accomplish a task.

Leadership is doing the same thing over and over. Even when you think you cannot do it again, repeating the process. And teaching others to do the same.

Does repetition get old? Sure.

Does repetition get boring? Sometimes.

But is repetition necessary? Absolutely.

As I’m embarking on helping developing a new group of student leaders, I realize the importance of repetition, and easy repetition to start. I’m striving to help them find a rhythm, to find a place to get started. The goal is to help these student leaders see the opportunities for them to make an impact.

What needs repeating in your setting? Are you willing to tackle it?

What’s Your Plan?

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Having a plan of attack always helps me. Sure, I can shoot from the hip as well as most people, but there are some things where having a plan is just better.

When I started this blog three years ago, I did not have a solid plan, other than a topic I wanted to tackle. Over time, however, I developed a plan. I may modify the plan, but for the most part, the plan helps.

When I trained for a half marathon, I followed a plan. I didn’t know what I was doing, other than running, but my plan put me on the right path to accomplish the goal.

Developing Student Leaders is very similar. When I look back over the past 10+ of developing student leaders, I may have swung blindly early on, but as time passed, I was able to develop a plan that moved me in a direction. Yes, that plan has been (and will continue to be) modified, but it’s a plan nonetheless.

Think of it like this: if I want a student to grow in their leadership influence, then I need to know what steps I want them to take. Those steps may be simple, or they may be a little more complex. But they are steps, regardless.

So, as I’m starting a leadership team in my current context, what’s my plan? Pretty simple: raising awareness, willingness, and leadership (sound familiar?), and prayer. I want students to start looking for opportunities to influence a room. And it helps to have a goal.

What’s your plan? What are you striving for? What steps are you helping students (or the people you lead) take to grow their leadership influence? Is there something you need to change? Is there something you need to ramp up? What are you waiting for?

4 Reasons I Have a Leadership Application

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I am in the process of interviewing students who applied for our Student Leadership Team. The application process is two fold: a written application and an interview.

The written application is a compilation of 9 questions. The questions help give me insight into how these students think about leadership–which is always insightful. One of the questions, specifically, asks how they hope to grow from their time on the leadership team, and from that I learn what they expect leadership team to look like.

But there’s more to my reasoning than just to get an inside look. Here are four reasons why I have an application process for Student Leaders:

  1. An application process sets the precedence that leaders put in extra time. Leadership is one part shifting our focus (awareness) and one part doing the extra work (willingness). If a student is not willing to take the time to fill out a few questions (as little as 5-10 minutes) they are likely not willing to go the extra mile. If there is no commitment up front, then you will get some students who just want to do something for the sake of doing something.
  2. An application process communicates a desire to do more. For some students, they feel like they could be doing more, but they don’t know where to start. When you open a process and allow them to pursue the steps of joining a team, it helps cement in their minds their desire to take another step.
  3. An application process helps establish commitments. I set the deadline and then give a week window for interviews. If they cannot schedule a meeting within that week, then they may need to wait to join the team. Leaders commit and follow through with their commitments. The application process (written and interview) helps teach them to take initiative.
  4. An application process starts moving everyone in the same direction. It gives a shared experience. Every student answers the same questions. I unintentionally left a very poorly worded question on the form, and it ended up being a unifying moment as the kids talked with each other trying to figure out what it meant. They now have the shared experience of trying to answer that question. (This was the answer I was expecting, by the way.)

I have never turned away a kid who applied, although I have had one who filled out the application but at the interview decided to back out (which I agreed with wholeheartedly).

What does your application process look like for student leaders? Does your experience line up with mine? I’d love to hear from you!

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