All I felt was disappointment. I had asked my student leaders to plan the game for that evening and it was all about them. Teens were disengaged and it was a disaster. That’s when I started to wonder whether student leadership groups were worth it.
The problem is that I had found great teenagers, just with the wrong qualities. They were outgoing, and well liked, but that was not enough. When looking for student leaders you need to make sure they have the right qualities.
That’s not to say only certain teens can lead. It’s that not everyone is ready to. They might lack:
On top of those qualities teenagers need to take it to the next level to be true student leaders. To do that they need to have at least these four qualities:
SEES BEYOND THE YOUTH ROOM
They understand that their relationship with the church goes beyond the youth ministry. They might not be able to recite the vision, but they get it. They are involved in ministry with other adults. When the pastor invites the congregation they are ready to go.
Leaders see the bigger picture. For students this quality is huge because big picture thinkers can solve big picture problems. To help your other students see beyond the youth room, start teaching them your church’s vision.
DOES MORE THAN ASKED
One of the best qualities anyone can have is servant leadership. The room is dirty and they are cleaning up before you can ask. They show up early and they stay until the job is done.
Student leaders will take initiative. They’ll own the environments, relationships and opportunities they are put in. Step out of their way, even if they make a mistake. You’ll be able to make it a teaching moment.
NEVER MAKES IT ABOUT STATUS
Student leaders do not see themselves as better than their peers. They see the responsibility of being a leader, but never abuse it. Instead of lording the title over their peers, they look for ways of building people up. They are introducing themselves to new teens. They find ways to include the entire group.
WORKING HARD TO GET TO KNOW GOD
Your student leaders will not be perfect and that’s okay. What you want is for them to constantly pursue God. They should be involved in a small group, or Bible study. You’ll see them at Mass on a regular basis, even if it’s without their parents. They get that they cannot do this without God.
Talk to your student leaders about the intimate relationship they have with God. Encourage them to live it out. When a student leader sees that they can trust God, they’ll grow in confidence.
Student leaders are not just a special group of teens in your church. They are teenagers looking to create change. They are discovering new ways of serving others, loving them and honoring God. Your job is to cultivate that and encourage it.
What other qualities do you find in a student leader?