Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

This morning I read Tim Elmore’s latest blog post. The first 2/3rds of the post deal with the communication gap between the iY Generation and older generations. (The other 1/3rd of the post is a plug for Tim’s new book on the subjuct, “Habitudes for Communicators”. I plan on picking it up.) The post provides some good observations points to think about as you work to communicate effectively with your students.

What are some ways you are communicating with your students? What have you found to be difficult? What have you found to be effective?

You can find the post HERE.

FYI: I have used Dr. Elmore’s Habitudes and other resources and have found them very useful. See his website here.

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Once we know what we are looking for in a leader, how do we find them? This is the hardest part. Wading through a sea of students to pinpoint potentials, then narrowing down committed students willing to give leadership a shot. Or you could be looking at a small pool of students trying to convince students they have potential. Whatever your context there needs to be a place to start the search? What is the best way to start recruiting? Here is what I’ve been learning.

First, establish a process for locating and recruiting leadership. A process or plan of action can help one swim through a sea of students without becoming overwhelmed and drowning. And it can help one navigate a limited pool to determine those with the most potential.

Keys to the process:
1. Be Clear – Make sure students know qualifications, expectations, length of commitment, etc. Students need to know what is being looked for in and what is expected of a leader in the ministry. (This can be easily communicated in an application. List qualifications, expectations, time commitment, important dates and job descriptions in the application.)

2. Be Thorough / Complete – Shake every bush you know to shake. Leaders are not always found in the obvious places. Use other leaders and students to help pinpoint potentials. Look at everyone who has participated in the ministry (small groups, worship nights, mission trips, retreats, etc.) Potentials can show up in many places.

3. Set Reasonable Time Limits – Set some deadlines. One can’t recruit forever. Help students see the need to decide and move forward in the process. Pay attention to the school calendar.

4. A Narrowing Focus – The process needs to help weed out unqualified students and recruit consistent with the ministry vision.

Ideas for the process:
Host an information lunch – Send personal invitations from you and current leadership to attend. (You may want to offer and open invitation as well.) Invite current leadership team members to come and share their experience. Have a Q & A with those leaders. Make applications and job descriptions available for potentials.

Personally recruit leaders – Single out potential students. Set a time to meet with them or send them a personal invitation to apply for the team. Ask current leadership team members to do the same thing. A personal touch can help a potential student move forward and apply.

Make open appeals with caution – If you make open appeals to the general population with in the ministry, make sure your process gives you the ability to say no to unqualified students graciously.

Second, put your process to work.

Start with an application. Develop an application to collect information from potentials and communicate expectations and clear job descriptions for leaders. The application needs to ask potentials to communicate their background (hometown, leadership or ministry experience, testimony, etc.), current situation (major, hours completed, job, how is God moving in your life now, etc.), spiritual giftedness.

Some things the application I use in my ministry includes:
Covenant Agreement – The agreement clarifies expectations of moral behavior and conflict resolution.

Spiritual Gifts Inventory – I give a website for a free assessment. They record the results in the application.

Important Dates & Expectations – I try to outline all the dates of events and other activities leadership team members are expected to participate in. The sooner they have the dates the sooner they can work their schedules around them.

Interview. After an application is turned in conduct a time to interview the potential. The interview allows for clarification of the application, understanding of expectations and job descriptions and opportunity to get to know the potential and vice-versa.

The interview also allows for the potential to verbalize their testimony and God’s activity in their life. I find this to be very important. It helps to better assess spiritual maturity, passions, and communication ability.

Ideas for the Application & Interview:
Ask what you want to know – make sure to ask the questions to collect the information needed. (Don’t go overboard – keep it with in reason.)

Involve other staff, upperclassman or veteran leadership in the interview process – a second set of eyes and ears can open a world of perspective.

The process for recruitment must be set to the context of the ministry. Using the above suggestions can help one pull together a solid process of recruitment.

How do you recruit leaders for your ministry? What is involved with your process? Share your thoughts.

Good leadership (in most cases) starts with a quality person. I think agreement can be found from ministry to ministry or oganization to organization; you want quality people in leadership positions. The “list” of qualities would have many similarities and differences for each ministry and/or organization. Entire books have been written on what qualities a person in leadership should possess. The articles, workshops and sermons on the subject are numerous. So how does one come up with a “list” of qualities?

Starting Point: The Variables.

To find the appropriate answer one needs to start with two big variables of the ministry or organization: Structure and Context.

Structure: How is the leadership team organized (team approach, committees, hierarchy)? What type of positions (small group leaders, officers, team leaders) need to be filled? Some positions will have a need for different qualities than others.

Context: What is the setting the ministry and its leaders operate under? Large campus/church or small campus/church; Small, one college town/Large city, multiple college town; 4 year state school/private college/2 year community college. What is the focus of the ministry? Is the focus on athletes, Greeks, Freshman, or the general campus population? Answers will determine the qualities needed for leadership.

Next – The Givens or non-negotiables. What must every leader posses in order to serve in leadership regardless of structure and context?

A commitment to Jesus Christ – leaders of a ministry tasked to reach a campus with the gospel need to have embraced the gospel and its implications for life with their own hearts in order to lead others to do the same.

Evidence of a growing and maturing relationship with Jesus – belief in the gospel must be bolstered by evidence indicating one’s maturing in their understanding of God’s expectations for life and responding in obedience to those expectations on a consistent bases.

A solid sense of humility (A Philippians 2 mindset) – leaders need to live life with a good estimation of themselves. Understanding who one is and who one is not will facilitate leadership from humility instead of pride.

A teachable spirit – leaders must remain learners. A leaders effectiveness is connected to his/her ability to learn from others, mistakes, change and the Holy Spirit.

In considering qualities, another question emerges.. How much stock do we put in one’s potential? Should potential outweigh character weakness or flaws?

Leadership development means exactly that – develop leaders. Potential must play a role. No candidate for leadership will perfectly fit a list of qualities. There must be a willingness to help students capitalize on strengths and passions and to grow in areas of weakness. A Philippians 2 mindset can be taught and experienced in the context of serving in a leadership position.

These things are not earth-shattering or tremendously insightful, but offer a good base to think through leadership qualities for leaders. What are your thoughts? Do you have some other variables? Would you list other non-negotiables? Let me hear from you. Let’s get the discussion going.

RESOURCES:
(There are many out there – you can add others that have helped you in the comments. Here are a few I have found very helpful.)

“Next Generation Leader: Five Essentials for those Who Will Shape the Future” – Andy Stanley

“Dynamic Spiritual Leadership: Leading Like Paul” – J. Oswald Sanders

Growing Leaders

Dwight D. Eisenhower defined leadership this way, “The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”

This is a fitting definition for leadership in the context of campus ministry – the art of getting students to reach the campus, because they want to reach the campus. But how do we get students to want to reach the campus? It starts with leadership.

The givens:

    Every campus ministry must have leadership.
    Campus ministers (non-student staff) are a big part of the leadership equation in any ministry to collegiates rather it be church based or campus based.

However, the hinge point is this: leadership from the constituents of a ministry is the very breath of the effort.

Collegiate ministry must have collegiates in the lead. The reality of leadership relegates success and failure. Leadership creates the perception and the experience of an organization. Leadership maps the pace and the destination of a ministry. With out collegiates in the lead of a collegiate ministry it cannot achieve its ultimately purpose: reach the campus.

This is a start to a series of post discussing Leadership with in a collegiate ministry. Here are some of the questions I will answer and discuss:

    What are the qualities of a collegiate leader?
    What is the process to recruit leaders?
    How are leaders trained and developed?
    What are the expectations of the leader?

Obviously context is a significant factor in the answer to these questions. I will base my answers on my own context and experience. I invite readers from other contexts to offer insights from their perspective.

Give the questions above some thought and offer your insight. If you have another question you would like to add to the mix, please offer it through the comments.

Until next time…

It has taken me a bit longer to continue the series than originally planned. Trying to get a semester of ministry started can fill your days and nights quickly. Here is the final post on Influence.

What are some practical things campus ministers can do and help students do to maximize influence?

The answer to this question is not difficult nor are my suggestions here earth shattering. Matter of fact, it is rather simple. And they are things many have done and are currently doing with students and others. But I state them with the hopes campus ministers and the students they work with will take the simplicity of maximizing influence and learn to think differently and strategically about the communities God places us on any given day.

First way to maximize influence is to invite people to come along. Create the community for yourself. Jesus invited 12 men to come along with him as he lived his life, ministered to others, and strategically invested in each of them (Matt. 4:18). He created the opportunity.

Create opportunities by inviting others to join you. This could be an invitation to a small group you lead, a discipling or mentoring relationship, leadership team, mission trip or project. By inviting others to join you on such journeys you place people (students, peers, etc.) in a place where you can engage and influence their lives.

Be willing to extend invitations. You never know how God may already be at work. Be prayerful, watchful and strategic.

Second way to maximize influence is to engage people along the way. Jesus took advantage of open opportunities as they came along. In Luke 11, the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. It was an open opportunity to exercising influence.

On the journey opportunities to engage others will present themselves. Take advantage of those opportunities. The random encounters taking place has you walk across campus. The student asking the “can we talk” question after a Bible study or event. The unexpected stop by the dorm room. The time you spend with your lab-partners, mates (suitemates, roommates, classmates & teammates), co-workers, and leadership teams will present opportunities to influence.

This requires us to open our eyes to the everyday opportunities God is creating as we journey along through every day events and happenings. It requires open eyes and ears as well as willing hearts. How is God working in the everyday encounters of the journey?

Third way to maximize opportunities to influence is to be present in life circumstances. Jesus made his presence known during life circumstances. In Mark 8, Jesus steps forward and feeds 4000 people. In John 2, Jesus turns water into wine. In John 11, Jesus comes on the scene to raise Lazarus from the dead. All these circumstances created opportunities for Jesus to maximize influence.

The happenings of life can create some great opportunities to influence other people. Current events can create opportunities to talk about world views, spirituality, justice, mercy, etc. Life events like deaths in the family, divorce, or illness open many up to spiritual things and the opportunity to simply be present to offer love and care. Tragedies, worldwide or close to home, create opportunities to present a Christian response.

Three keys to exercising influence in these ways:
1. Take Initiative – you have to step out to speak and respond when opportunities present themselves. One can’t just stand around and watch. You have to get in the game.

2. When you see or hear the Spirit’s prompting – ACT!! God’s Spirit will show us opportunities. Be obedient to those occurrences.

3. Earn the right to influence – (Ryan makes this point in the comments section of part 2. Read it HERE.) This means we learn to listen well. Close your mouth and open your ears. It means we serve abundantly. When the chance to serve someone occurs, take it. It requires we love completely. We must choose to love even when it is inconvenient and difficult. And it means we pray unceasingly. We have to become people who pray for opportunities to influence and the stamina to see them through.

Again, these are not new ideas. But the reminder can do us some good in helping us and our students think through how to be an influence in a world filled with many.

What are your thoughts?

Jesus maximized every day opportunities in the context of his communities to exercise his influence. I think we can learn to do this as well. But first, we need to identify the main communities in which we operate.

Most communities we operate in can be placed in three categories: Those created by me, created by others, and those created by circumstance. Let me give some examples. (Again – there is overlap and these are generalizations. However, looking at these categories can help us and our students identify opportunities.)

Communities Created by Me.
These communities are leadership positions I hold or ministry teams where I have responsibility. It is the small group I lead. These communities are my mentoring or discipling relationships. By in large these are the communities I created by my own initiative or choice.

Communities Created by Others.
These communities are my relationships with my (as one friend puts it) mates (classmates, teammates, roommates). They are organizations or groups I participate in but don’t necessarily lead. These communities can be intramural teams, lab-partners, study groups, or group projects. They are my co-workers and neighbors. A big part of these communities are dependent upon the other individual’s willingness and participation in the relationships.

Communities Created by Circumstances
These communities are driven together by the circumstance of hardship, tragedy, celebrations or victories. It is a life event bringing people together in a relationship. Death of loved ones, natural disasters, loss of job, retirement, graduation, engagements, weddings, etc. These relationships are fused on the fires of a life event.

So how do I maximize my influence opportunities in the communities God has placed me? I think we start by asking questions about our relationships and our communities in our every day encounters. To maximize influence one must think more strategically about every day life. This does not mean everything and everyone is a “project” to be “accomplished.” But rather, to embrace the truth that God is at work all around and He wants to involve people in His work.

We need to ask ourself and help our students ask an important question. Could it be God has placed specific relationships in the context of certain communities to be influenced? The obvious answer is yes. But is it the answer most believe? The answer to this question determines the validity to one’s desire to be an influence.

So if God is placing people in our life to be influenced we need to ask ‘who?’ Who are the people God is placing in my life in these communities? By identifying who we begin to put a face with the idea. Ideas help us think but a face can bring brokenness and reality. Once we know the face (who), we can think further about how (next post).

We need to learn to ask and help our students learn to ask these questions. People are constantly moving in and out of relationship with us in the communities in which we live. The above question can be used to help us identify the opportunities before us. The better known the opportunities the better prepared we are to be used by God to influence others.

Take your own assessment – see who God is placing in your communities and sphere of influence.

Next time we will finish this series by looking into the practical steps of maximizing influence. In the mean time, what do you think?

A Continuation on our Influence discussion

A couple of things before we look at examples of Jesus exercising influence in the orientations mentioned in part 1.

The three orientations I have proposed are generalizations and they do not encompass every sphere of influence we encounter. They are only meant to help us think through specific areas influence can be exercised. And has Mark mentioned in the comments of part one, it is possible to find examples of influences that fit in all three orientations.

Also, certain influences can not only fit into all three orientations, but can move between orientations through seasons of a relationship. An example would be a mentor. The mentor / mentee relationship can move from orientation to orientation has the relationship evolves and grows. I am sure you can think of other examples.

My hope with these post is to help us think specifically about the places in our lives we can exercise influence and to help our students do the same thing.

Now lets look at examples of Jesus exercising influence in the specific orientations of Position, Proximity and Permission.

Position Oriented
Jesus used his position to exercise influence in lives of the disciples. He called them out to be prepared for the spreading of the gospel and the for founding of the church. Jesus also empowered them to do the work of the ministry he sent them out to do {Matthew 10:1-15; 26:26-29}.

It is seen also in his specific relationship with Peter, James and John. Jesus pulls these three aside on several occasions to see and experience things the others did not {Matthew 17:1; 26:36-38}.

Proximity Oriented
People were always around Jesus. Simply by there proximity to the Savior they were influenced. You see his influence with the crowds who followed after him {Matthew 4:23-25}. He healed the sick, cast out demons and proclaimed the gospel. He also taught the crowds with authority and power {Matthew 5-7}.

He influenced the religious community at the time. In most cases they did not respond positively, but Jesus’ presence had influence {Matthew 26:3-5}

Jesus presence at events in the community also had influence. The wedding where he performs his first miracle launches his ministry forward {John 2:1-11}.

Even at the cross Jesus had influence. At the dying of Christ a Centurion soldier is convinced Jesus is the son of God {Matthew 27:54}.

Permission Oriented
Many people gave Jesus permission to influence their lives. We see it with the sick and dying being brought to Jesus asking to be healed {Matthew 8:14-17}. Another example would be the Centurion servant. He sends the Elders of the Jews to Jesus asking for his servant to be healed {Luke 7:1-3}.

We can see it also in the friends of Jesus. Jesus is invited into the home of Mary and Martha. Mary sits at the feet of Jesus to be taught {Luke 10:38-41}. Again with the same friends, Mary and Martha send for Jesus to come and help their sick brother Lazarus {John 11:1-44}.

These examples are not exhaustive. You can think of many more. But in each orientation of influence you can see how Jesus maximized every day opportunities to exercise his influence.

Next time we will talk specifically about how to discover and how to help students discover opportunities to exercise influence.

In the mean time – what are your thoughts?