Multiple men and women have had a significant influence on my life. These special people are uniquely different. The broad spectrum of life lessons I have gained under their teaching has shaped my approach to marriage, parenting, finances, ministry, and everything in between.
A similarity that each of my mentors share, is the title - Leader.
Throughout God’s Word, encouragement and guidance is given to men and women. Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.” Within the faith, we value and strive toward being effective leaders.
The world also values and attempts to cultivate effective leadership. Every year, thousands of dollars are spent on resources designed to cultivate leaders. For instance, try searching Amazon.com for books with “leadership” in the title and you will find over 100,000 options to choose from. That’s just books!
It’s not lost on me that such a large amount of information is available at our fingertips. I enjoy diving head first into resources like these. However, I’m a visual learner. All too often, after reading about a technique designed and proven to build ones’ leadership skills, I want to see it in action. For me, witnessing effective leadership firsthand is inspiring. The character of a leader is equal to and at times, more influential than the words they say.
I’m sure there are faces you are imagining right now of leaders that have made a lasting impact on your life. A closer inspection of their life helps us answer the question, “What does effective leadership look like?” The lives of my role models are the inspiration for the list below.
Three Traits of Effective Leadership
The leaders that have influenced my life will be the first to admit their own inadequacies, flaws, and weaknesses. Their effort to lead has always trumped their expertise on any given subject.
My mentors have been steadfast in their commitment to being consistent. Their commitment to consistency produced a reliability that I could depend on.
My role models continue to show genuine love and kindness toward me. Their compassion is not rooted in obligation. Rather, they have made me a priority in their life. They care more about the needs of others and seek ways to meet those needs.
Of course, much more can be said regarding the characteristics of leadership. What I’ve learned from these men and women is that effective leaders exemplify humility, commitment, and compassion. They do not merely talk about it – They live it.
Let me encourage you to evaluate your current level of humility and identify what you are committed to. Developing these two habits builds character that makes your leadership effective. More importantly, an investment in these habits often leads to a desire to meet the needs others.
Our team just returned from our Nicaragua Spring Break Mission Trip, and I am still growing from the experiences we were able to have there. I deeply cherish the new perspective I carry, appreciating the prosperity and blessedness of what I have that so many others do not. Since returning, I’ve prayerfully found more moments of joyfulness, gratitude, and humility in my days.
We befriended people who live in tarps and metal boxes, within the confines of a city dump. We walked through “houses” of dirt floors and single rooms for an entire family to share. We sang in Spanish alongside brothers and sisters in Christ who know and worship the same God we know, celebrating the unity of our faith and the global mission of Christ.
The things we did while in Nicaragua were simple, but their impact was deeply profound. We sent out teams to do street evangelism, neighborhood fiestas, vacation bible schools, and to serve in feeding centers. Each of these endeavors afforded us the chance to step into relationship with people all across Leon and the surrounding villages, and to proclaim the powerful message of the gospel.
As a student associate, my heart was incredibly encouraged by witnessing each of our students on this trip leading someone to Christ. From the first point of contact they initiated the conversation, built a connection, introduced the gospel, gave the invitation, prayed with their new brother/sister in Christ and presented them with a bible and how to get connected to a local Nicaraguan church. 435 people on this trip surrendered their life to Christ this week. Praise God!
There is a rich harvest in Nicaragua, as there is here, and I pray we continue to live out the calling of mission on our lives to spread the good news of what Christ has done!
Hey everyone! Nic Miner here, and today I did something I realized I had never done before. I listened to one of Billy Graham’s sermons. You might think that it is embarrassing for someone in my line of work to have never listened to a Billy Graham sermon, and I would agree with you. With the passing of this incredible man of God, I decided to move it on up my list of things to do and I wanted to share some of the things that really struck me.
*This is in no way a critique of Billy Graham, I am not qualified enough for that.
The link to the sermon I listened to is below. Click on it and you can hear it too.
First and foremost, SO MUCH SCRIPTURE. It literally felt like every other word was a direct quote, paraphrase, or story from the Bible. I could not count how many times he said, “The Bible says” or “Scripture speaks to.” I also loved how his Bible rarely left his hands. It blew me away, not to mention convicted me. And what was crazy about it was how easy he was to listen to. His message didn’t feel notes driven or perfectly outlined, but just like a conversation. Billy Graham was authentic and natural.
Perhaps what struck me the most was how Billy Graham DIDN’T SHY AWAY FROM SENSITIVE TOPICS. He spoke of mistakes and sin in the world. He made the point that we cannot rely on any government system to take the place of the Kingdom of Christ. And in an incredible way, he attacked the racial divides that separate people in society. While doing this he didn’t come across as mad or judgmental, but concerned; for these things are a result of people being separated from a relationship with God. Billy Graham invited people to have a relationship with Jesus, but he also invited people to live holy lives.
Lastly, Billy Graham NORMALIZED SPIRITUAL THINGS. He showed through the culture, movies, and plays that people have always been asking the question, “Who is Jesus?” or “What do you think of Jesus?” His point being, if you people are always asking the question then it’s normal for me to do so as well and offer an answer. Billy Graham also normalized the action of faith and showed how we exercise faith in everyday life. He did all of this with amazing clarity and purpose.
I could go on and on, but I believe Billy Graham’s legacy speaks for itself.
One of the things I frequently pray for in our student ministry is that God will raise up our students to do amazing things for the Kingdom of God. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that the next Billy Graham, Martin Luther King Jr., or countless other heroes of the Christian faith are young people sitting in our services. As a ministry, what can we be doing to raise these future leaders?
How are we encouraging students to read, memorize, and meditate on Scripture? We expect excellence out of them in many other areas, but what about when it comes to the Word of God?
Are we talking with our students about the issues society is facing today? One of the things that I notice is how easily students pick up political opinions from their parents and friends. If we are viewing society as lost, broken, and worthless then they will too. And I don’t believe that lines up with the heart of Jesus. Yes, society is messy, but we have to get students to realize that the only solution is a relationship Jesus.
Let’s do our best to teach our students how to be disciples of Jesus Christ.
Thank you for reading,
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20. This is a couple of verses that have been the mission of our church for some time now." Where does it start and how in the world am I supposed to do this?" are two questions that I think a lot of Christians ask themselves when they think of these verses.
This is my seventh year to host FUSE with a student ministry and each year I get asked, "What's the mission behind this?" The mission is simple. Let's get students to realize how easy it is to start Gospel-centered conversations. Most people never start this process of making disciples because they're too scared to even start the conversation. The truth is, discipleship begins with evangelism, which starts with us opening our mouths and being willing to talk about what Christ is to us. We can start by telling our story.
The idea behind FUSE is for students to go invite friends to church. Don't get me wrong, inviting someone to church isn’t necessarily evangelism. But, being willing to talk about church is an excellent start to beginning a Gospel-centered conversation. My desire is for students to see that it's really not that hard.
Once a student comes to FUSE they're going to see that church can be a very fun place to be. They're also going to get to meet other Christians who are normal people who have struggles too. But, most importantly, they're going to hear the Gospel. I have found that even if a student doesn't make a decision that night, it often opens the door for another conversation as we plant the Gospel seed in them.
I have seen students experience FUSE and then realize they don't need a special Wednesday night event to talk about Jesus on their campuses. This, along with students accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior, is a massive win for our student ministry.
FUSE also has a mission aspect that pushes each team to go and do missions in our community and in our church. This exposure to missions helps our students realize they don't have to go out of our country to do missions. We can always be doing missions.
Again, these conversations are just the beginning of making disciples. We want students to invite friends to be a part of LIFE Groups and GROWTH Groups and to be able to disciple these students and help them be more of what God desires us to be.
Make sure you encourage your student to come and be a part of FUSE this year. And keep encouraging them to have these Gospel conversations. Let's go make disciples of all the nations together!
From grade-school courses to the Olympic games, personal performance is measured and identified as a success or failure. These terms have set standards in our society that cause us to modify our behavior.
Of course, many of us make these modifications to increase our odds of success. However, if you’re like me, a fear of failure is the greater motivation. The reason being, success is often linked to strength while failure is viewed as weakness. This perspective also affects the Christian faith.
The Apostle Paul has long been viewed as “…The Christian of all Christians” – a man bent on following Christ, allowing nothing to stand in his way (Phil. 3:8-10). Today, many believers who read Paul’s story consider his effort toward being that type of follower, successful. His success in furthering the gospel from conversion until his final days, is inspiring and even goal worthy. Be that as it may, Paul was no stranger to weakness.
In addition to numerous obstacles, Paul had a hurdle that he was unable to overcome. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-8, the apostle writes about a thorn of the flesh being given to him so that he would not become conceited. We don’t have enough information to know exactly what this “thorn” was. What we do know is that Paul begged The Lord three times to remove it. In verse nine, God responds to his requests, “…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Paul goes on to boast in his weakness for the sake of Christ. Verse ten emphasizes the importance of a proper perspective of weakness.
“…For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Regardless of where you’re at in life or what goals you’re pursuing, let me encourage you – boast in your weakness. If you’re a follower of Christ, work hard at any and everything you do. Yet, be mindful of where your strength is coming from.
Studies have long shown the most active age-group in the church are teenagers/students. Think about it, with their summers full of camps/mission trips, and school years full of retreats and bi-weekly services, it’s not hard to see why that is. These valuable years before college, marriages, children, and mortgages are spent developing deep, faith-based relationships and learning more of God’s heart through His Word.
Alarmingly, however, studies also show that the most inactive group in the church are young adults from 18-29. There is a MASSIVE spiritual drop off rate once our students head to college, and we have to ask ourselves - why?
There are clearly many factors – cultural disconnect, new-found freedom, or even just misplaced priorities that make it easy with their busy schedules to justify sleeping in on Sundays…
But one of the BIGGEST reasons our students fall away from the church is that they are put out in a pluralistic world and immediately confronted with a barrage of ideologies and questions they have never faced.
Many of these questions are deeply theological, personal, and tricky to navigate. Having our faith fundamentally challenged without appropriate preparation can feel like going to the Olympics without a coach or any national support. The temptation can be to just give up, and statistics are showing that’s what many choose to do.
To combat this, we will be taking our high school students to the Lead Defend Conference in Conway on March 3rd. We want to ensure that we are equipping our students with the practical tools needed to handle thinking and conversing through deeply polarizing issues. Our desire is for our students to confidently and securely know how to make a stand for Christ in the face of opposition.
My prayer for this conference is that as our students learn to seek deeper matters of faith, they find joy and more joy as they encounter the heart of He who is Truth, and that they feel strengthened in confidence as they go forth to proclaim His name.
Nic Miner here, and welcome to the first ever First Students blog! As a team, we are always looking for ways to better communicate with and equip the parents and students involved in our ministry. We feel like our monthly newsletter, LIFE Group announcements, and website do a good job of communicating WHAT we are doing, but not necessarily HOW we are doing. So, if you are interested, we decided to create a weekly blog of mission reports, thoughts (and maybe sometimes rants), and encouragement from your favorite student ministry team.
I listened to a podcast a few weeks ago featuring a group of guys that I don’t typically agree with (I find this good practice for critical thinking). As I listened, these church leaders attempted to make the case that it is irresponsible for student pastors to encourage their students to evangelize and invite their friends to church, citing that students need to focus on their own Christian walk before they start worrying about the unreached. In their view, asking students to evangelize is too much, because we are putting the burden of their friend’s eternity on their shoulders. They even went as far to say that the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 was only given to the disciples, not Christians today.
I’m still appalled.
It is very dangerous to teach that someone needs to be good enough, know enough, or be a certain age before they are qualified to share the gospel. The reality is that evangelism and discipleship can never be separated, they are forever linked. Matthew 28:19-20 reads:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” ESV
The command here is to go and make disciples. How? By baptizing and teaching people to do what Jesus said. This includes teaching people Jesus’ command to go and make disciples! Jesus set up a brilliant system of replication: disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples…….
Super Sunday is one of our events that is focused heavily on outreach. Students are able to bring their friends to a fun, relaxed environment where they are able to experience Christian fellowship and hear the gospel. With countless invites, numerous guests, and two salvations the work of our students will echo in eternity. I could not be more proud of our students.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20 says:
“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” ESV
Let’s continue to teach and encourage our students to be ambassadors for Christ.
Mission Reports, observations, and encouragement from your favorite Student Ministry Team.