Over the last several weeks I have been thinking a lot about our Student Leadership. I have been really wrestling with this question, “What are the core values I want these leaders to walk away with.”

I have certain values I want all of our students to walk away with, but for this group of leaders, what specifically do I want them to take from their time serving as student leaders? I have come up with 5 core concepts I want these students to take away from their time in this ministry.

1. Prayer – I want them to see prayer as the foundation for their ministry. “You can do a lot of things for God after you pray, but you can’t really do anything for Him until you pray.” Brunson  The church needs innovative and passionate leaders but more than anything else the church needs leaders who are willing to commit their lives to prayer. It is impossible to lead people to God if you do not know God. Prayer is the most important role of the leader.

2. Servant Leadership – Jesus did not simply teach or lead from a distance, he spent time with people, serving them. Jesus engaged people where they were. He did so by first meeting their felt needs. To his disciples He was Rabbi and Lord, yet he was still willing to selflessly kneel at their feet to wash them. I want to build leaders who are not afraid to get their hands dirty. I want students who don’t see leadership as simply as, “something you do” but rather see leadership as “who you are.”

3. Collaboration – I want leaders to learn to work together towards a goal. To see through the eyes of a team and learn how to collaborate. When people work in groups there are five possible outcomes. First is Avoidance (I don’t care). Second is Accommodation (you win, I lose). Third is Competition (I win, you lose). Forth is Compromise (sometimes I win, sometimes I lose). Fifth is Collaboration (Win-Win). Compromise in certain situations is an okay option but I want to teach students to collaborate, it is vital to building a strong team. It is also the best outcome for the Kingdom. For me that means I have to be willing to collaborate with them and not simply push my ideas through (Even when I know my way will work better).

4. Learning – Leaders are learners, when you stop learning you will inevitably stop leading. I want them to fall in love with reading; the Bible as well as other books. Right now I am working through “Communicating for a Change” by Andy Stanley with 2 of our student leaders. I am trying to pair up experienced adult teachers to mentor high school students in teaching. As a part of the quarter they are teaching they meet with me once a week to discuss the book as well as what they are learning. I also want them to learn through failure. I know that sounds odd but it is the truth. I want our ministry to be a safe place for them to try and fail. Truth be told, I have learn so much more in my life through failures than I have through successes. Ultimately, you learn best through doing. I want to students to feel free to experiment, to know it might not work and know it’s okay. Then to be able to help them process what went wrong and how it might work better the next time.

5. Mentoring – I am really trying to focus on developing mentoring relationships for all of our leaders. My hope is as the mentor relationship develops over time that our leaders would begin to mentor younger students. It is what Jesus intended when he said “Go and make disciples.” The goal of discipleship is to reproduce yourself. As I work with student leaders, if they can’t teach someone else what I am teaching them, then I have failed.

So here is my list of core values I want our student leaders to develop. What would you add to the list of core values?


    1. Sarah I think it is so important for leaders to have an idea of where we are actually trying to lead people. For the first several years I did student leadership I really did not know where we were going, we were just going. Over the past year I have really been focusing on the “where we are going” because the “where” will greatly affect how we get there.

  1. Gary, great list, and great thoughts. I’m with you on those core values, the only one I thought of that you hadn’t listed (although you touched on part of it in “learning”) is to be dreamers. I want our student leaders to be dreaming up new ideas, new ways to do things, better ways to do things that we’ve been doing for awhile, whatever. Especially as they come up in the church, we should be encouraging them to dream for ways they will impact the church & the Kingdom for God.


  2. I want to thank you for spending the time and energy to mentor the kids at Westhill, especially Ben. What a treasure you are giving him! —and what a blessing for our congregation! Others will be blessed in the future because of the training these young people are receiving.

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