What to Watch For in Potential Student Leaders
“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
2 Tim. 2:22
Whether your campus ministry has 5 students, 25 students, or 105 students, you are constantly engaged in the process of 2 Timothy 2:2: equipping disciples who can then equip other disciples. If you are a campus pastor or leader, what are some qualities that you should look for in college student leaders? If you are a college student, what are some qualities that must be present in your life to be the best leader you can be? There are many Scriptural qualities that one could point to, but these four in particular stand out as major building-blocks for college student discipleship.
Teachability (“commit thou to faithful men, who shall…teach others also.”)
Teachability comes from humility. Without a teachable spirit, you could potentially pour your time, heart, and effort into someone who will not reciprocate. This is one of the key characteristics of a disciple who will make other disciples. This kind of student will fulfill 2 Timothy 2:22. In my experience, if a student isn’t teachable, they won’t receive teaching or pass it on to others. Students who are discipled on campus should gratefully receive sound teaching and gladly pass it on to others.
Hunger for the Bible (“...the things that thou hast heard of me…”)
In reality, students come from all walks of life. Some students who have an excellent understanding of the Bible. Others are biblically illiterate when they start college. But if there is one quality that always stands out about student leaders, it’s this: they have a hunger for the Word of God. Considering all those different kinds of students’ backgrounds and upbringings, they might have some weird positions on things (culturally, politically, etc.), but don’t let those things scare you. If they crave and heed the principles of God’s Word, then many of those other things will often “come out in the wash.” Teachability with a hunger for the Bible leads to a growing disciple of Jesus.
Concern for Others (“...who shall be able to teach others also.”)
As is the case with any believer, a sign of health and growth is a genuine concern for others. When Jesus summed up the greatest of all the commandments, He said, ““Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself….” (Matt. 20:36-40). These two commands are foundational motivations for any disciple’s growth: love God, love others.
In the midst of their busy college schedules, which of your students see and care for the needs of others? Keep an eye on those students, because a disciple who deeply cares for God and others has the potential to make a difference as a multiplying disciple-maker. Their hearts are in the right place.
Church Commitment (“...among many witnesses, the same commit…”
One characteristic that seems to be absent from a lot of young adults is a willingness to commit to things. When they make their weekend plans, they wait till the last second to commit to an activity, just in case a better opportunity comes along. They might be unwilling to commit to a Bible study, but they’re ready to cave right now for a Culver's run. Spontaneity is freeing. Commitment is rigid and restraining. This is a common mentality, but not every young adult struggles with commitment. In fact, many of them would respond well to a challenge to “step it up.” Encourage them to commit themselves to Godly things, and see how God works on them! If you are a college student, make sure you’re someone who is willing to commit to the most important things and is faithful to keep your word.
This mentality of non-commitment overflows into local church faithfulness. Whether they realize it or not, a student’s time and commitment to a local church is one of the most vital parts of their growth. If they can learn to be faithful to their church during college, they’ll be equipped to do the same for the rest of their lives. Your best students will be more committed to your church’s Sunday services than the group hangout on Saturday night. When they’re pinched for time, they’ll still be in God’s house even when a major paper needs to be done. They’ve internalized the need to stir each other up, and the best way to do that is to meet together as much as possible (Heb. 10:24-25).
To put it simply, as you’re teaching some who will teach others also, if you see these four qualities in a student, get him or her under your wing (or another discipler’s wing) quickly, because these ones will likely “ be able to teach others also.” If you’re a student that wants to lead, then ask God, by His Holy Spirit and grace, to help you “put on” these important qualities.