Depending upon their environment, young people have different views of leadership. Some are taught to be competitive, “take no prisoners”, bossy leaders who run for every position they can. Others see leadership as a way to improve their chances of getting in to the “right” university. Still others are told, they will never “amount to anything”. Suggesting they could lead seems as remote to them as telling them they will one day be a U.S. Senator.
With all of the confusing messages about their potential, the often questionable leadership examples adults give them and little discussion of leadership in Bible classes, it’s no wonder even the Church has major problems finding truly godly leaders.
Yet, for the Church to be healthy and grow, it needs godly, servant leaders on earth. For more people to learn about Jesus and become Christians, the world needs more Christians who can lead people to Christ. For Christians to try and change the realities of those who are suffering, we need servant leaders who can inspire change in even non-Christians.
Our Bible classes for young people need to begin making time to train young people – mentor them – in godly, servant leadership. So what are some things Bible Class Teachers can do to help young people become the types of leaders God created them to be? Here are some of our favorites.
- Teach young people God will ask all of them to lead, but some of them in different ways than others. Every Christian should be sharing their faith and leading others to Christ. Some students though may eventually become teachers, ministers or elders. Every Bible student should work on becoming the leader God wants them to be.
- Teach students about godly and ungodly leaders in the Bible. We often teach them stories about leaders, without mentioning their leadership skills (or lack thereof). Your students may know what Queen Esther did for example, but have you discussed with them the leadership skills she showed in the process? Her ability to listen to and take wise counsel, her willingness to be courageous in the face of danger, her willingness to risk her own life to try and save the lives of her people and more are also characteristics of godly servant leaders.
- Teach students the difference between leaders in the world and godly servant leaders. Servant is the key to the difference. God expects His leaders to think of themselves as humble servants of those they lead. They aren’t there to boss people around, but to serve them in ways that will help those they lead grow closer to God.
- Work with them on the characteristics of godly servant leaders. Help students learn how to have hearts that put God first, that love others unconditionally, that are humble, seek God’s wisdom, that are generous and more. All of those traits will make them better leaders when they have chances to lead.
- Encourage them to read the Bible regularly, as well as Christian leadership books by experts like John Maxwell. Authors don’t have the same inspiration as scripture, but they can often give practical advice that incorporates biblical commands and principles.
- Give them opportunities to practice. Create ways students can take leadership of small things at first, then bigger things as they become more experienced. Be prepared to give them feedback and encouragement to help them continue to grow.
Taking the time to help your students become godly servant leaders can help them, the Church and the world. It’s definitely worth your time and effort.