Student leadership brings so much to the table for students. It brings belonging and something that they can have purpose in. It brings leadership development to prepare them for living a life on mission. However, one of the most important aspects of student leadership is the community it brings for student leaders.
A lot of students believe they are living a good life if they just keep themselves from partying or doing “bad” things. There is a problem with this mentality. That mentality tells us that what measures our life in Christ is the decisions we make. Honestly, most of them could probably keep themselves from doing all of the “bad” stuff, however, following Christ alone just does not work and students do not realize their need for community until they experience it and see how important it is for their walk with Christ. If we are honest, we as leaders need our community to encourage us as we follow Christ just as much as the students! I need people in my life to stay on mission everyday. I get distracted and there are other things begging for my attention that are a whole lot easier than making disciples. If we choose to live life outside of community, we are truly missing out…and so are these students!
Students need to have a place that is so safe and so inviting that they would do whatever it takes to be there because of how well they feel known by those people. That is real community for them. So, how do we create that community for kids? Well, it begins with teaching them what it means to really follow Jesus.
19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
They barely even knew Jesus at the time. Why would these guys leave their family, friends, career and so on so quickly? Because, the mission that Jesus invited them on was way greater than anything they could of dreamed up. Jesus was inviting them to come alongside Him (God’s son) and change the coarse of the world with him! He could have done it all on his own but he chose to do it with others. He was modeling to us what he wanted us to repeat.
Being on mission together is about investing your life in something that is actually going to last. The decisions kids make right now will impact the rest of their life. Think about it! When you choose to give your life away to loving others, the impact it has on those people creates a ripple. I tell my student leaders to think about who modeled Jesus to them? They all think of a person who had a profound impact on the reason they follow Jesus today. Now just think about 5 years from now. Who is going to say your name? And who is saying that person’s name and so on and so forth? Before long, your life has impacted a ton of people, all because you chose to give your life to something greater. Now, think about the impact you can have when you are mission with others… you can change your WHOLE SCHOOL!!
So ask yourself these questions:
1. What am I inviting kids into? Is it a culture where we just get a bunch of planning done? Or is it a place where student can share their lives with one another and spur one another on?
2. How am I modeling the importance of community to these student leaders? Do I live out my walk with Christ through community as well?
3. How can I encourage these students to be a community beyond Young Life meetings? How can I encourage them to live it our in their schools, in the lunchroom, at a basketball game, etc.?
What it will look like varies. The most important part is making sure it is something that draws them in and re-energizes them for the work ahead of them. Maybe it is a once a month student leadership time where for an hour of the time you are listening to one another talk about the most joy-filled and hardest moments of being on mission and THEN you get to your planning done after that. Maybe it is a shared meal before club each week? You decide what works for your students but make sure you are cultivating time with them in the same way that you cultivate time with your adult leaders on your team. We are better together in a tight bond than we are as scattered members. Take joy, my friends. Community is doing the hard but important work of Christ, TOGETHER. Hallelujah that we do not have to do it on our own!