Posted by: everynation | May 2, 2009

Well, here goes…


by Morgan Stephens

I wanted to talk/think through the concept of “empowerment” in campus ministry, because that’s what 90% plus of this blog will be about: campus ministry.

Leadership in a campus ministry context is a funny thing- it’s like that old Supreme Court definition about pornography: “I know it when I see it.”

These days, it seems, “empowerment” is the leadership buzzword, and if we just use it enough, it feels like, good things will happen with student leaders. Here are some common phrases regularly overheard:

“We just want you guys to feel empowered.”
“I just want to empower you.”
“You guys need to be empowered around here.”

This all sounds fantastic, and the desire to empower others is completely Biblical, appropriate, and necessary.

However, many times, if we’re not careful, it can end up sounding like this:

“What do you guys want to do this week/semester/year? I haven’t read a single book in 6 months, my Bible is…wait a minute, where did I put it…I mean, I don’t want to be religious about it….um…hang on a second….What was I saying? Oh yeah, what are we supposed to do, I mean, what do you guys want to do?

Empowering others is not just about giving others latitude for decision-making.
Empowering others is not just about flattening your leadership structure.

At its essence, empowering others is about giving others what they need to get the job done.

For us as leaders, that means giving others vision, as well as latitude for decision-making.
Giving others inspiration, as well as flattening our leadership structure.
Giving to and creating for others the resources necessary to fulfill the dream in their hearts.

Should we be top down? No, but leadership does have a starting point somewhere.
Should we micromanage? Obviously not, but, on the other hand, what gets measured, gets done.

When I walk into a group, hear talk about empowering others, and then see little to no corporate or even individual excitement, momentum, or Great Big Thoughts For God, I don’t know what you’d call it- but I’m pretty sure that’s not the kind of “empowering leadership” that changes the world.

Let’s lead with a vision so large it requires every single student’s talents and gifts to make it happen.
Let’s serve with a passion so deep that it propels students into effective action and difference-making.

Leadership always begins somewhere. When it comes to leading students, I’ve found the most effective way is to begin with direction towards a vision. If the direction changes, so be it, but at least we’re moving…


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