My experience working with student leaders has been a bit of a roller coaster. There have been times when I’ve seen student leaders really get the relational side of ministry and form a strong relationship with a middle school students, and that has been incredibly rewarding. There have also many, many times I have banged my head against a wall, wondering, “What are they thinking??”
Currently at the moment I have one high school student leader. He is awesome and for the most part, reliable. We meet once a week over lunch and talk about leadership and what it means to lead in student ministries. We have been using “Habitudes” by Tim Elmore as a structure for our meetings. It has been a great year watching and listening to him grow in his faith and his leadership.
On Wednesdays we have middle school club from 430 to 6pm and then high school club from 7 to 830pm. It makes for a long day but I find it opens up the rest of my week to meet our students outside of club. I pay attention to our students who show leadership skills, but more importantly I look for the qualities of a real authentic relationship with Jesus. I believe that we all are born to be leaders in the Kingdom, some of us have natural leadership and some of us learn it.
My primary requirement for leadership is a growing, authentic relationships with Jesus. To date my only other requirement is the reading and signing of a document that lays out a high standard (morality, consistency, etc.). I recognize, of course, that we are all human and make mistakes but I expect that leaders will be transparent and honest and open to being pastor-ed.
I have about five students that I am eyeing for student leaders next year and have some ideas of some new requirements that I’m looking at implementing. For instance – requiring each student leader to put an hour in at the church each week outside of our club meetings – basically coming in to the church and helping out with the behind the scenes stuff, organizing, cleaning, set up, etc.
I believe student leadership is a fantastic way to take the relationships you have with your students to deeper places. For some students, an opportunity in leadership may make a path towards going into ministry themselves. I know that was my story! I would not have opened my mind to the idea that God was calling me in to ministry as a youth pastor if my youth pastor had not played the role he did in my life. So no matter where you are on the spectrum of working with student leaders, I hope this encourages you. If you’ve been doing it for years I pray that you will be encouraged and continue! If you’ve never tried it, let me tell you it is worth it!