My oldest son Malachi recently celebrated his 21st birthday. When he was growing up, people would often call him “Little Marvin.” Anytime I heard someone use that nickname, I wondered whether it was good or bad. Was I teaching him everything he needed in order to be equipped for all that God has planned for his life? As he grew up imitating me, did that lead him and others closer to Christ and his purposes?
This is the essence of developing Christlike student leadership. Each generation has the responsibility of passing on essential character traits to the next generation. If we criticize the generation following us, we must take responsibility for the fact that they are reflecting what we taught them. Our charge is to produce a Christlike heritage in our children and youth.
This is especially challenging given today’s inclusive society and the pressures of urban youth culture. Many of our youth are forming more relationships on social media than with their neighbors. As a result of our teaching them about inclusiveness, many have created their own customized religions. I’ve heard teenagers refer to themselves as Buddhist Catholics or Christian Muslims. Even among those who attend churches, many are embracing non-Christian forms of worship and rituals.
How will we regain our distinctive traits as biblical Christians? What will we leave this generation to pass on to the one that succeeds them? How can we help them know God intimately, obey Christ willingly, serve others lovingly, and influence society strategically? How do we insure that our youth groups become more than warehouses of activities, so that young people develop into spiritual leaders of God’s kingdom?
Leadership must be modeled, cultivated and demonstrated. This month I want to focus on three concepts that develop students into student leaders:
- The Power of Presence
- An Appreciation for the Process
- A Focus on the Product
Each of these three concepts has a role to play in Christian youth leadership development, and I’m looking forward to unpacking them this month and hearing your feedback. What practices or concepts have you found to be essential when working with young people and developing them into Christian men and women?
Workers Together for the Kingdom,