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10 Steps Toward Developing Student Leaders

7. Dream with them (“What are some needs/causes/interests that you’re especially drawn toward?”). Obviously, this requires more time together.

8. Challenge them to move toward an area of interest/passion.

9. Watch them.

10. Set them loose to see a need and meet it.

Again, developing young leaders is not a science nor even following this 10-step process (I just know that people like practical action-steps to consider)…developing leaders is more of an art–a relational art.

I’m less concerned about you taking specific steps and more concerned that you don’t allow kids to sit on the sideline. Invite them off the bench and into the game. Give them opportunities to serve, seek significance, and invest in stuff that matters.

Bottom line: Invite kids to something bigger than themselves. Give kids a chance!

Invite them out of apathy. Be specific. Call them by name. Believe in them. Convince them that they’ve got something to offer. Help them see that they’re not ‘excess human baggage.’

I’m so glad that Jim Burns took these steps with me in the late 70’s and offered me an opportunity to “taste” ministry. I did. I’ve never been the same.

That’s just one of the many reasons I’m so excited for the opportunity to teach some of your kids about Student Leadership. Why don’t you invite a few kids to join you this summer at our leadership conference in either Southern CA (July 6-8) or Philadelphia (July 11-13)? I’d love to see you!

Someone is waiting for you to believe in them.

Questions: What am I missing that is a regular part of what you’re doing to develop young leaders? Share it here.

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Doug Fields has been in youth ministry since 1979 and former pastor to students at Saddleback Church in Southern California. He's the author of 50+ books, including the best-selling Purpose-Driven Youth Ministry & Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry. He's also the founder of Simply Youth Ministry, an instructor at Azusa Pacific University/HomeWord, and on the leadership team with Youth Specialties. You can connect with Doug through his blog at www.downloadyouthministry.com! More from Doug Fields or visit/subscribe to Doug's blog at www.dougfields.com