The topic of today’s session was “Student Leadership.” I started by asking them to think for a minute about their goals in life, and/or the goals of their peers. What do they most want out of life? The answers that came back were pretty typical: a satisfying career, a strong family, and meaningful friendships. I then told them we were going to have a debate I would argue that staff should do all the leading, and they would argue that students should also lead in the student ministry context. I was pleased that they had a lot to say. Then, we proceeded to do a Bible study on the paradox promises of Mark 8 and 10: Jesus promises life, security and greatness to those who will lose their lives (Mark 8:34-38), leave their families and homes (Mark 10:29-30), and become servants in his name (Mark 10:41-45).
The reality is that Jesus’ invitation to his disciples is that of IFES to student leaders: lay down your lives for others, leave what is comfortable, and become servants to fellow students, all because you believe Jesus’ promises and desire what he is offering: real life, relational security, and a chance to make a difference in the lives of others.
I concluded by saying that it was too small a thing for IFES to work with student leaders so that they would lead IFES small groups for a semester or two years of their lives while university students. IFES invites students into leadership not simply because it makes for more effective IFES fellowships, though it does, of course. But IFES invites students into leadership to offer students the kind of learning and training that will make them successful in relationships their whole lives long. Few other courses or opportunities in the university setting will teach them the skills and character they will need to deal well with conflict, to listen to others with compassion and yet to strive for deep influence, and to make choices to serve and to prefer others’ needs to their own. This kind of perspective will help them to experience success in the most important relationships they will ever have, so that they would grow into being the kind of parents, spouses, and friends that they dearly want to be. Of course, this is my own testimony. I am grateful for the quality of family and friend relationships that I enjoy, and aware of my debt to that same IFES/IVCF ministry that called me to follow Jesus and to learn from him to lose, to leave, and to serve in order to gain, to find, and to have impact.
Rich and Lisa Lamb