At the start of the school year ministries “compete” for all of the new students. At the end of the school year ministries “compete” for new leaders. Some recruit new leaders very informally through simple conversations over coffee. Some do so very formally, using applications and conducting interviews. No matter the method, this time of year every ministry is asking students to consider leadership positions for the 2012-2013 school year.
It has been my observation that this process causes a lot of tension and confusion for students. In their immaturity, many students say “Yes” to these leadership opportunities for the wrong reasons and many say “No” to these leadership opportunities for the wrong reason. When students say “Yes” or “No” for the wrong reasons, they actually end up hurting the ministries and hurting themselves.
To help students learn to make better decisions about these opportunities, over the next two weeks I want write about the good and bad reasons to say “Yes” or “No.” This week, I’ll share a few thoughts on good and bad reasons to say “Yes.”
Bad Reasons To Say “Yes”
People Pleasing It has been my experience that many students say “Yes” simply because they are afraid to say “No.” A campus minister whom they love and respect asks them to step into a leadership position. They do not want to disappoint their campus minister by saying “No.” People pleasing is not a good enough motive to sustain their commitment to leadership and actually causes more interpersonal damage in the student’s life because you wind up in “performance mode.” This is devastating to the ministry and to the student.
Spiritual Pride It has also been my experience that students are tempted to say “Yes” to leadership because they like the honor that comes with the position. It is a subtle motive, but it is often there. Students want to lead because it makes them feel good about themselves and look good before others. This motive is also destructive to the ministry and the individual. God resists the proud. He will humble us. Those who step into leadership with prideful motives cannot effectively lead students. The Biblical call to leadership is a call to serve, to become the least.
Capacity Gap I’ve seen this time and time again. Students simply have an inaccurate view of what they can handle. They say “Yes” with the greatest intentions and with sincere conviction that they can manage the responsibility of leadership, but a month into the semester they realize they cannot. In this case one of three things happen, if not all of them. The ministry suffers, the student suffers, and/or schoolwork suffers. All three consequences are harmful to the ministry and the student.
Good Reasons To Say “Yes”
Calling This will sound too simple, but we should say “Yes” when we are called. If through much prayer and waiting a students senses God calling them into leadership, then the answer should be “Yes.” Often, after a year of involvement, students already have a heart for where they would like to serve the ministry and are asked to step into that very role. This is the best case scenario.
Gifting College is a wonderful time to better understand spiritual gifts. If a students is being asked to step into a position that best uses his or her spiritual gifts and natural abilities, then it is likely a good indication to say “Yes.” Even if a student does not yet know his or her spiritual gifts, these opportunities can be a testing ground to discover gifts.
Need It is perfectly fine to simply say “Yes” because there is a need. If a student really wants to serve a particular church or ministry, then sometimes the best way is to say “Yes” to where there is the greatest need. Calling and gifting may be a higher priority in the filter, but sometimes, with a heart to serve the ministry, students can just say “Yes” because there is a need.
Justin Christopher is the director of Campus Renewal Ministries at the University of Texas and author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.