The first time I was asked to help lead something in second year at Uni, by being a support leader in my small group, I was as encouraged as I was nervous. I probably didn’t do an amazing job but it was an important moment for me as it was my first experience of leadership. Now that I find myself needing to raise up student leaders, I realise it must not have always been easy for my student worker to take risks on me.
It can be tempting as leaders to micromanage as we’re slightly scared of things going wrong. But if revival broke out and 100 students came to your church would you have the right people available to plant new small groups, disciple new Christians, and organise new teams? Or if you stopped leading tomorrow, is there anyone who could replace you and take what you were doing further?
Luke 10:2 (NIV) helpfully reminds why we need to be proactive when raising up leaders: ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.'
An essential part of leadership is giving it away - whether you’re a student worker or student leader, you’ve got a vital role to play in raising up others if you’re going to see your campus reached. However, if you’re not sure where to start, here are four steps that may be helpful - you need to be N-I-C-E (fans of acronyms rejoice).
N - Notice
Intentionally look for people who have a leader’s character. Do they take their faith seriously and get behind the vision/values of your church? Are they teachable, motivated, and servant-hearted? Are they just as likely to pick up a bin bag as they are a microphone? They are not always obvious; they may not be loud, extroverted or seem like they’re super ‘keen’, but actually they carry a lot of influence and integrity. Keep your eye out for the people who are quietly cleaning up everything without having being asked to just as much as those who are the heartbeat of the group’s conversation.
I - Invest
Give them your time. Find ways to do life with them and impart something, whether it be encouragement, advice, prayer, or wisdom. Don’t worry if you can’t answer all their questions, the priority is drawing out the giftings God has given them. Make sure they know they can be honest and accountable with you, and be willing to be open yourself. So whether it be getting a coffee in, organising a time to read the Bible, or eating together, make sure you’re booking the time in. If you haven’t got much time be inventive with how to use it: can they help you with a chore or task (i.e. shopping, gardening)? Can you go to the gym together or just hang out?
C - Create opportunities
As you model leadership yourself, try to always be looking for and creating ways for potential leaders to step up. For instance, at your student gathering or small group, can somebody sort the snacks or cooking, game or icebreaker? Can they organise worship or a thought for the day? Are they able to lead a session, pull together a social, or check in with another student? This can sometimes feel risky, and it won’t always go to plan, but people won’t feel confident leading unless they’re in an environment they can exercise the potential you’ve seen.
E - Encourage
There will be ups and downs in all our leadership journeys. There will be times when the person you’re raising up is smashing it and thriving with the responsibility they’ve been given. Celebrate this with them! There are also times when they won’t want to lead, are feeling down, or have made a mistake. Don’t gloss over these moments, work with them to figure out what they can do differently, but always be gentle, encouraging them, and making sure they’re centering their identity on Jesus and not the outcomes of their leadership.
If you want more input when it comes to Releasing Student Leaders then why not come to one of our Fusion Training Days happening in London (29th October), Bristol (30th October), and Sheffield (31st October). To book on use this link: www.fusionmovement.org/trainingdays