When Student Leaders don’t act like it
I love student leadership! I LOVE seeing teenagers who care deeply about their faith, community & want to see God move mightily through both. However I also know teenagers are flawed people just like me. I know mistakes will happen and expectations won’t be met. So how do we handle those students when that happens?
A good standard for yourself when working with a leadership team is to make sure expectations are always talked about with your team at every chance possible. Never assume anything, make it clear as possible as often as possible.
Here is how I’ve learned to handle student leaders who begin to get off step:
1- Remind them of what God’s expectations of a follower of Christ are. If these values are never discussed with your student leadership team then you’ve made a mistake as a youth pastor. Part of leadership must be rising up those students who are going to be ministry leading the next generation. They need to grow not just a people but also as ministry leaders.
2- Review them of your expectations of the team. I have 5 core values I hold my student leaders too. They are easy to remember, easy to live out if hearts are in the right place. When a student leader isn’t fulfilling one of these values for the ministry they are serving I have a conversation with them to lovingly redirect their thought & awareness as to what is expected of them. The point of them being a leader is to impact the ministry around them, when students know & see their role in light of what it means in the lives of other students it can help reduce the selfishness that can get students off track.
3- Raise the Bar. Too often the urge of staying friendly youth pastor takes over from being the shepherd who hold’s students to an accountable lifestyle. Calls students out, you will need to show love & grace but speak truth. I firmly believe that leaders need a bar raised constantly in their life. I want my role to help these students to grow up spiritually, physically & socially as they move from being a child into a young man/woman who will be a leader in the church for future generations
4- Remove them. I dislike this moment a lot. It is very hard to have several conversations with a student leader, attempting to help them redirect their lifestyle to match up to the standards and accountability that is expected of them, to have to ask them to step down. When this moment happens I do everything I can to remind the student that I care for them & want them to come to a place where they could return to leadership, but firs they need to return to a place of complete love and surrender to Christ. I’ve never gotten to the point of a conversation where the student was surprised when asked to step down.
Student leadership can be incredibly rewarding but it is a ministry commitment you need to make to constantly keep students in a place of health so the ministry & testimony of Christ can be in a place of health and acceptance. Enjoy the journey, I always do!