Student Leadership (#1)

 As we continue to grow as a student ministry, we are starting a Student Leadership program. We are going to meet frequently and talk about what it looks like to be a student leader. Below is something that I am sending to our students that are interested in leadership – at church, at school, at home, at work etc… Also, check out the book – “Help, I’m a Student Leader” by Doug Fields.


 If you asked the president of a large company for a one-word definition of leadership, she might describe it as enthusiasm, drive, power, presence, or competence. These words are often associated with the world’s view of leadership. But if you investigate Jesus’ leadership requirements for His closest followers, you’ll see that only one word makes it to the top of his list. It’s not an attractive word. Ready? Drum roll, please…Jesus asked his leaders to… serve. Serve! 

I understand–it’s quite shocking at first. But if you want to follow the lead of Jesus, you’ll find the primary objective of a biblical leader is to serve. Carefully read this verse to understand how Jesus wants his closest followers to act:

You know that in this world kings are tyrants, and officials lord it over the people beneath them. But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant… (Matthew 20:25-26)

Jesus’ selection of leaders could be considered either insane or ingenious. But since he was God in the flesh, let’s assume His leadership judgment fits in the latter category. The first 12 men He chose to lead with him included five fishermen, a tax collector, and six others whose occupations are a complete mystery. Sometimes we wonder why Jesus chose these men instead of those who were already seen as leaders. Whatever the reason, the greatest leader ever to live chose ordinary guys to lead with him.

Clearly, Jesus connected serving to leading. He deepened the definition of leadership when He described himself as a servant rather than a king:

“For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

Jesus didn’t just speak about serving; He modeled it. He put the needs of others first and placed Himself in positions where serving was necessary. Ultimately, this posture of servanthood led Him to the cross–to serve the needs of humanity. He served without reservation, and the greatest act of servanthood was also the greatest act of leadership our world has ever seen. Think about that for a moment. Jesus. God in the flesh. All-powerful, all-knowing, all God, and yet, all servant–to everyone!

He served the down and out, the sinner, the outcast, the lonely, and the poor. Leader? Yes. Servant? Absolutely! As Jesus served, He created and led a movement with the potential to influence others! Given Jesus’ actions, my definition of leadership would include two key words: serve and influence. Jesus did both. That’s leadership! If you want to be a leader–not just a student leader, but a Christian leader–you must learn to lead like Jesus. How? By serving others.

When you serve others, you’ll have the opportunity not only to lead, but also to change the image of leadership in your church, in our student ministry, in your family, and in your school. So instead of viewing a leadership role as a chance to exert power and voice your opinions, view it as an opportunity to serve. When you do, you’ll succeed at leadership, and you’ll grow to be more like Jesus. Are you ready to do that?

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