Leadership is challenging. You don’t have to read an article to know that. Part of the challenge is that leading well is not just something we do, but it is something we cultivate in others.
Each year, I spend a day with some senior level ministry leaders. I count it a great privilege to know these people, to have a peek into their lives and ministries and to have them speak into mine. The following are just a few of the leadership lessons I have learned from them and others with regard to campus ministry.
Leadership is a great privilege and calling. God has called you to your position. With it comes great joy and responsibility. The challenges of campus ministry are real and about much more than just the job. The ministry comes with headaches, personal cost and sacrifices. Yet those difficulties are worth suffering to serve the Kingdom. Do you see your work as a gift from God?
Leadership means investing in others for the work that is to be done. For campus ministers, this most often begins with student leaders. Look at your ministry and ask yourself in whom you are investing. Investment means much more than just developing a leadership team. You know Jesus had the many, the 12 and the inner circle of three. While not a formula, this is a great model for the way we invest in students and student leaders. Who are the people to whom you give the most time and attention? How are you preparing them to lead in the ministry?
Leaders don’t own, they empower. Good leaders know the work of ministry is not their own but that of Jesus Christ. Leaders are called to steward the ministry and the people within it. Leadership is not about keeping power but about giving it away to others. More than delegating the work load, leaders who empower others willingly share the authority and responsibility, trusting others to do great things for the Kingdom and doing all they can to equip them to do so. Do you share power in your work?
Secure leaders rejoice in the success of other leaders. In your own ministry, recruit and empower those more talented than you—and then celebrate the work they do. Honor other leaders. When you hear of the success of others, do you feel jealous, or can you take joy in the success of others for the sake of the Kingdom?
Leaders should evaluate their own work and the work of others in ministry. This is very important and requires the honest assessment of yourself and others. Many leadership books can provide guidelines for ministry assessment, questions to ask and systems to use. However, I have found one question borrowed from Walter Wright’s book Relational Leadership to be essential: Was God pleased?
We can do all kinds of good and right things in ways that don’t honor God. That’s not the calling. Was He pleased by product and process?
Leadership requires community. Find a group with whom you can meet, share, pray and rejoice. Finding a group of leaders—often separate from your own ministry—with whom you can honestly share and pray is a great gift and one worth pursuing.