“If you’re going to develop student leaders, the first person who needs to be developed is you.”
This is the opening line to my latest book, Equip – The YouthWorker’s Guide To Developing Student Leaders. It’s a book focused on raising up the next generation of leaders within our student ministries – leaders who will continue to guide the people of God in living out the mission of God.
I wrote this book for a very specific audience – youth pastors, youth leaders, and youth workers working in the context of the Church. But the principles and process that I outline has ramifications for anyone who wants to develop student leaders: Grow your own leadership and you’ll be better equipped to grow leadership in others.
Here’s an excerpt from the book:
Most people have the capacity to learn and grow in their leadership skills. Even if you don’t think you’re a good leader, you can get better at leadership. Part of your growth will happen as a result of your thinking. This is why it’s crucial to become more intentional in your thinking as a leader.
When I invite people to spend more time thinking, they initially wonder, What do I think about? All they can picture is sitting in an open field, daydreaming about life and allowing any and every thought to carry them where it will. That’s not what I mean by thinking. To put it simply, thinking precedes leading. In fact, leading that isn’t preceded by thinking is called reacting.
When was the last time you thought deeply about your own leadership development? The truth is, there’s a lot to think about. I recommend focusing on two different types of thinking: inspiration and evaluation.
Inspiration thinking is the ability to look at a situation and figure out what will move a group of people one step closer toward accomplishing their mission. It looks forward. It keeps the vision clear and compelling in the minds of people. It recognizes the unique contribution each individual can make and encourages its use for the good of the group.
Evaluation thinking stops to consider what has taken place and figure out what worked and what didn’t. It seeks to commend the efforts that go well and correct the efforts that don’t. It is always on the lookout for lessons learned. It makes the most of every situation, learning from mistakes and improving on successes. It looks back with an eye toward continual growth.
This is the type of thinking Jesus encourages his followers to engage in as they wrestle with the cost of discipleship:
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, “This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.” Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.
Luke 14:28-32, TNIV
Inspiration thinking looks forward and asks the question: Can I? Evaluation thinking looks back and asks the question: Will I? Both are important in the consideration of any endeavor.
Equip is available at Amazon. I’m currently working on crafting a workshop that takes people through the principles I advocate for in the book. I encourage you to pick up a copy of the book. If you’d like to make developing student leaders a priority within your ministry context, I’d love to talk to you about ways we can partner together.