Some people may look at leadership positions as a chance to make a difference for others, on their campus and in their world. And that's true. But leadership positions also tend to make a difference in the life of the leader. We talked to five leaders on Christian college and university campuses about the difficulties, joys and lessons they've discovered from leadership.
Share the Vision
Bethany Bible College, New Brunswick, Canada
Carly has a big vision. She wants each student on her campus to find his or her role in fulfilling the Great Commission.
"I believe God wants to raise up my generation to 'go and tell' unreached people about Christ and to fight for justice around the world," says Carly.
As president of the college's Student Mission Fellowship, Carly has a great opportunity to help her peers become more globally minded through activities, posters and prayer. But she knows she can't achieve her vision on her own.
"Being a leader on campus has helped me recognize how much I must depend on God," says Carly. "Without him, the activities and conversations I have will have no eternal value."
Her leadership role has also taught Carly how to better make decisions. She frequently receives more mission ideas from her fellow students than she can handle. The challenge is discerning which ideas are the best use of her time and energy.
"Doing them all would actually make Student Mission Fellowship less effective than choosing a few and doing them strongly," says Carly.
Her decision-making skills have improved as she responds to submitted ideas, prays about them, speaks to a mentor who helps guide her, and finds help from others with similar views and desires.
"It was so valuable to me to find other students that share the same passion," she says. "I recommend leaders cast their visions and ask if others would like to be a part of it. This will give you the opportunity to delegate responsibilities, and also help you feel like you are not alone in your leadership role."
Do a Few Things Well
Dallas Baptist University, Texas
Chris loves his job as a resident assistant (RA). But he'll be honest: Waking up at 1 a.m. because someone burned popcorn isn't a good time. Not the first time. Or the second or third time either.
"Opening my dorm room door at 3 a.m. after a long day of studying doesn't always make me want to smile," he says. "But it's all worth it."
For Chris, serving as an RA on campus is a way to give back. "The resident assistants I've had poured so much into my life, and I wanted to do the same for other guys in the dorms," he says.
One lesson Chris has learned is to not carry too many responsibilities. "The most important thing I've learned is to say no," he says. "I don't have to say 'yes' to everything or try to please everyone."
When tempted to take on more leadership, Chris recalls how peach trees produce better fruit when pruned because more nutrients become concentrated in fewer peaches. "We should concentrate on a few activities and do them well, as opposed to doing everything in a mediocre way," he says.
Chris limits his activities, sets his priorities and takes time to rest and avoid burnout. "I have to set time aside for everything," he says. "I am a servant of God first, a student second, an RA third, and everything else just falls into its place."
Biola University, La Mirada, California
Business major Jared is still in college, but already tasting what it's like to be a CEO.
As student body president, Jared manages more than 60 paid employees and a sizable budget. He even feels the performance pressures of a CEOit's Biola's centennial year, and students have high expectations. "People want big things," he says. "We plan to deliver."