One of the things I spend a lot of time on is student leadership. I believe that ministries will eventually fold and lose their effectiveness if they do not put students into leadership positions.
One of the trickiest parts of putting students into leadership is the very first step: identification. If you’ve spent even a short amount of time in youth ministry you know that it can be difficult to discern whether or not a student really “gets it” and it taking ownership of their faith or if they are just really good at going through the motions.
I don’t expect perfection in my student leaders. I have found over time that looking for specific behaviors in students is not a good way to evaluate a student’s potential. That being said, I do have a few characteristics/attitudes I look for when I recruit student leaders. Here are a few of them:
They are motivated:
Quality student leaders tend to have some sort of fire inside them. They will take initiative to get things done, occasionally without being asked. I’ve noticed this motivation is usually focused around a particular “area” of ministry (small groups, events, evangelism, etc). Sometimes the trick is to find what they are motivated about and turn them loose.
They see needs:
This is huge for me. If a student can see a need (an opportunity for ministry) then that tells me that the Lord is working on their heart. When a student already notices a need and has a burden for it then who am I to get in the way?
They are the (constructive) complainers:
This can be a hard one sometimes. There is no pleasing everyone in ministry, but to me there is a difference between complaining and constructive complaining. I put students who complain about the games being boring or snacks being lame in a different category than the ones who come to me with concerns about not being fed spiritually or an area in which we could legitimately improve. This usually goes hand in hand with seeing a need.
This isn’t a complete list, and it’s not a list I check off and want to see students have a x number of these. It’s just a set of guidelines that help me identify potential student leaders. It has definitely helped me improve how I find them.