Student Leadership: Agony or Ecstasy? (Part 1)

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.

Two of the most important ways to ensure that you are building a team that has high Kingdom potential to advance the work of Christ on campus are to:

  • Thoughtfully develop a leadership selection process that pays as much attention to a potential leader’s commitment to the whole as they are to the advancement of their own gifts and vision.
  • Be very clear during the selection process about the ministry’s mission and beliefs and then ask each candidate whether they can commit themselves whole-heartedly to that mission and to those beliefs.

Leadership Selection Process

This article on leadership selection from InterVarsity's will give you some thoughtful criteria to consider in selecting leaders. I especially appreciate the section on Forgiveness and Reconciliation. Right now I am working on a leadership team with another man who practices this value in every aspect of his leadership. He is not only a pleasure to work with for me personally but has also positively changed the dynamics of our whole team. His humility is infectious.

One attribute that seems to be missing from the article, though, is a track record of taking action to engage the mission. Leaders who are doing what they are calling others to do are compelling leaders that other students will want to follow. Leaders who are “all talk” will quickly tire everyone around them.

A missional lifestyle is caught as well as taught. When you have leaders who value the characteristics in this article, your leadership team will experience real joy in your ministry together.

I will address the importance of reinforcing InterVarsity’s mission and beliefs during the leadership selection process in my next post: Student Leadership: Agony or Ecstasy? (Part 2)

About the Author
Interim President

Jim Lundgren has served as InterVarsity's Interim President. He and his wife, Mary Beth, live in Madison, Wisconsin. Jim has two grown sons, Tim and Andy. He has been with InterVarsity since 1973.