Student Leadership is Awesome?

I found out I was having twins about 12 days ago and haven’t been able to get my head around writing ever since.  Since I usually post at least three times a week, taking a full seven days off not only without writing, but honestly, without even a single idea for writing feels strange and a little scary.  My children aren’t even born yet and already my brain is too full of strollers and hoodie towels to write about student development or justice or faith?

But it occurred to me that over the past two weeks, our students are keeping on in some pretty cool ways.  Events are being planned, volunteers are being recruited (even with finals coming very close), dates for service in the next semester are being set.  They do all that.

One of the cores of our model as a team is inverted hierarchy.  The five professional staff sit at the bottom and the 35 student staff on our team are above us, closer to the front lines of our campus and surrounding communities.

I’ve been around a few different student leadership models in the past few years–youth group leadership teams, especially.  I’ve designed them, led them, been on them when I was a student myself.  May I make a humble critique of what we youth workers typically do?  We bring on enthusiastic, high capacity students and ask them to execute our task list.

Set up and tear down the room.  Check. Create a welcome team.  Check. Form a music team to lead worship each week. Check.

Then we call that leadership.  And it might be.  But that’s not a given.  It might be that those things are acutally our job and we’ve passed them off.  Five months later, we wonder why those students seem, well, a bit bored.  This is an exciting opportunity.  Right?

It is possible to empower students to be co-authors and hands-on shapers of programatic forms and overall goals.  They are able, with coaching, to assess whether we are meeting our goals, and to make changes to get closer to the mark.  And while that can be accomplished in lots of ways, for what it’s worth, shifting away from only delegating down really helps us.

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