The "It Factor"...that thing that makes college students follow a College Minister is RESPECT. How do you get or grow respect?
I was blown away by the number of hits and re-posts my blog indicating respect was the "It Factor"....not coolness, not charisma, not great speaking ability. One of the hard distinctions we have to make is the difference in what will draw a crowd and what God uses to bring about life change.
I like crowds...in fact, I think part of what we must be measured against is whether we are reaching a number of students proportionate to the size campus on which we serve. But, that is not the end in itself....life change....what are your students doing AFTER they leave college and your ministry. Are they honoring the Lord and serving somewhere in a church? So, if RESPECT is a huge factor in God changing students' lives thru your ministry...how do you develop or grow it?
1. Time. Students have to see you live out who you are. There is a reason that almost all of the large college ministries have a long time leader in place. That person has been there long enough to earn respect.
2. Don't just be one of the gang! Students have buddies. You aren't called or paid to be their buddy. You are to be a friend who has a different life perspective. A buddy won't tell another buddy something that person doesn't want to hear. It may stop them from being buddies. As God's person on that campus, you must sometimes say to students things they don't want to hear.
3. Some will leave. Realize that standing on principle will sometimes cause students to leave your ministry. I went through a large experience of this twice. A stand on some principles caused students to leave our ministry....both times we grew back larger...once very quickly and once over a little longer. I wish I could promise that will happen every time. I can't....but I think it is part of the fabric of respect. There are certain things you stand for. Being principled and hard headed aren't the the same though.
4. Stop trying to impress students....be you! They know you aren't 21...don't try to act like it. Ever notice how some College Ministers try to disguise their age?
5. Things College Ministers with the "It Factor" do:
-Affirm the gifts abilities and potential you see in their life.
-Give them feedback. What are they doing that is working. How and what can they learn from their failures?
-Develop and train them. Don't just tell them to serve. Show and teach them how.
Respect doesn't come instantly...if it does, it probably isn't really respect.