Developing leaders

Developing leaders

My InterVarsity chapter had a problem. No one wanted to be a leader. Our chapter turned around when we began focusing on how leadership is a privilege from God, not an obligation.

I have noticed that many InterVarsity chapter members become leaders for the wrong reasons. Perhaps you’re familiar with this scenario: Someone comes up to Joe Sophomore or Jane Junior and says, “Hey, you’ve gotten a lot out of the fellowship over the last few years. Now you really owe it to us to serve as leaders.” And then Joe and Jane take on responsibility — not because they have a vision for the fellowship, or a sense of calling from God, or even a desire to serve, but because they feel obligated. Unfortunately, leaders with that kind of motivation often get burned out and used up.

Students need to be properly nurtured and prepared for leadership from the very beginning. In fact, if you only communicate one thing to your chapter’s freshmen, it should be this: God and the fellowship love you and want to serve you (not plug you into a demanding two- or four-year program), so that you’ll grow into the people and the leaders that God intends you to be.


Fundamental truth number one: God doesn’t need us to accomplish anything. Fundamental truth number two: God is good and generous; everything he calls us to, including leadership, ultimately results in our own growth. Fundamental truth number three: leadership, therefore, is a privilege.

In the past, few people in our chapter have really wanted to be leaders. We’ve overcome that mentality by stressing the fact that God calls us to lead because be loves us and wants us to grow spiritually. The kinds of risks and sacrifices that leadership demands aren’t intended to make life hard, but to give us opportunities to experience more of God’s faithfulness.

As a leader in your fellowship, it is important to build trust with freshmen and sophomores one-on-one, sharing with them how God has used your leadership experience to draw you closer to him. Then, as students seem ready, encourage them to take small steps of faith. Students who trust you may, with your encouragement, begin to take risks that require them to trust God. Becoming a leader is a large step of faith, and nothing will better prepare them than experiencing God’s faithfulness firsthand.

— Kim Cope