Thursday, December 27, 2012

What is the "IT Factor" for College Ministers...Why Students Follow?

Students will immediately follow someone with great personal charisma,or who is a great speaker, or just someone they like....for a while....when the going is easy!

But, what makes college students follow someone over the long haul, work hard at their direction and even accept constructive criticism from them? What is the "It Factor"?

The "It Factor" is RESPECT! They respect them as much or even more than they like them. Each year when I would get a new 9 month just out of college Assistant, I would tell them that at the start they must choose whether to just be the students buddy or to have their respect. And I would warn them to never settle for being just their buddy...but some would.

You see there is a tragic trap in most, if not all of us....we want to be liked. So, we say and do things to get people to like us. Conversely, we don't want to say or do anything that will perhaps cause them not to like us. One of the tasks of a College Minister is to be lovingly honest with students. That's how they grow and change. But, the risk is that they won't like us. Some will walk away. But, in my experience, only a few walk away when they know you are being lovingly honest.

I had an Assistant that our students liked very much. One time on a fine arts team trip, a student was driving the ministry van while others were sleeping. The Assistant woke up and realized they were driving dangerously over the speed limit. The Assistant said, "You need to slow down". The driver merely laughed and continued at the same speed.

The Assistant was their buddy...not a respected leader!

One common mis-understanding of those outside college ministry is that being young and cool is the most important thing. During the last year and a half, I have been privileged to be on campuses around the country. One campus where I visited, the two college ministry staffers total age is 100 years old...they really aren't too cool. But their ministry is one of the best and largest in the country. They send ministry teams all over the world.

Their students respect for who they are is out the roof!

Never ever settle for just being liked....I would even go as far as to say students can even dis-like you and respect you! Respect is the single most important factor in students following you.

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