Have you enjoyed a partnering leadership experience like this? You are in a working relationship with another leader of the opposite sex. The two of you are open and receptive to ideas, able to listen and learn from one another. You feel safe to share your thoughts, and you know they will be taken seriously. Trust and mutual respect characterize your relationship. Both of you realize that the work you do together is much better than either of you could have accomplished alone.
When I have some time to myself to do whatever I want, I am usually in one of two places -– in my garage woodworking or on a lake fishing. In one corner of my garage is a pile of boards. They are all different sizes and lengths. You’ll see oak, walnut, cherry, birch and maple. At first glance, it appears to be just a pile of boards. However, in time they become a cabinet, desk, table, clock or decorative box. It seems to me that the process of turning a non-descript board into a useful object has some insight into how God turns ordinary people into leaders.
I remember standing in the hotel lobby like it was yesterday. As a young leader, I walked up to two male colleagues, both friends, and posed a question for conversation about my work. Both jumped in eagerly, talking over me in order to speak. I tried to get a word in several times but was interrupted. I was shorter than both and began to have the feeling that I wasn’t even in real eye contact with either of them. After trying at least five times to get into the conversation I had started, I finally walked away. I don’t think either of them planned to shut me out, but that is what happened.
How would you describe your chapter camp experience? If you are like me, it is incredible to realize how much God did in such a short time frame. He planted seeds of life in us: Scripture came alive like never before, the chapter grew closer as a community and teams were equipped to step into ministry in the fall.
As an Area Director in the Pacific Region a couple of years ago, I can vividly remember several conversations about the lack of strong male leaders in many of our chapters. One day I shared this problem with a new friend of mine, Dave, the CEO of a management consulting firm. He told me how impressed he had been with the leadership development that his daughter received in her InterVarsity chapter in San Diego. I told him, “I’ve been thinking of an idea.
It is spring and it’s the season when many InterVarsity chapters are selecting new leaders for the next academic year. You might be one of those students that has been asked to serve as a core leader for your chapter. It’s possible that you are looking forward to that role with great enthusiasm and eagerness. On the other hand, perhaps you are unsure and wondering how you were selected. Regardless of how you feel about being a core leader for your chapter, the kind of leader you are is essential.
After I had been on staff several years, InterVarsity on the West Coast hired the first female area director. Several of my colleagues in New York/New Jersey went to our regional director and asked him to consider now appointing me, as a woman, to the area director role. I was very encouraged and grateful for this affirmation from my community. This opportunity gave me the chance to develop my gifts as a leader so that I was later made the first female regional director within the organization.
In my previous post, Student Leadership: Agony or Ecstasy? (Part 1), I addressed the importance of a student leadership team that has high kingdom potential. Another essential component to reinforce during the leadership selection process is clearly defining and ensuring agreement with InterVarsity’s mission and beliefs.
One of the most profound privileges for me in leadership has been to serve on and lead leadership teams where the net effect of our leadership was far greater than the sum of our parts. Unfortunately, though, I have also served on teams that were traumatic from start to finish. On the traumatic side, one of the most memorable was a team where the other leaders were mainly out to advance their own priorities and agendas regardless of what it did to the overall effectiveness of our teamwork. Too many of our meetings were exercises where dueling egos dominated our discussions.
The blog is an avenue for staff and student leaders to hear from the visionary leaders of Collegiate Ministries about theological formation, discipleship, chapter planting, chapter growth, and other key ministry themes for campus work.