Posted by: tlhawkins | November 9, 2009

How Do You Choose Student Leaders, Part III

My guess is that how we choose student leaders is impacted most by our own influences, personalities, campus context and leadership styles.

Consequently, Justin and Brandon have written some great thoughts in the previous two weeks and was expanded by Brian Barela, Director of New Media Strategies & Integration at Campus Crusade for Christ, on his blog.

Mostly I would probably just point someone to Seth Godin’s book, Tribes.  Andseth-godin in reality I probably am not consistent enough with my own criteria anyway.

So thought I would take a shot at something I am a little more consistent about and committed to:  what is my role and responsibility with our student leaders? Because this plays a huge part in “how” I choose leaders.

Preserving the Missional Impulse

Every good idea/word/phrase that creates a buzz will find its critics.  So, if you are carrying baggage with the word “missional” – hold your thoughts at bay for a minute while you finish reading.

Author/Missiologist Alan Hirsch describes the missional impulse as the practical outworking of the mission of God and the incarnation.

Being missional, does not mean anti-gathering.  In fact, it celebrates gathering, celebrates community, celebrates common places.

What I want to be committed to is preserving for our students is their place of mission on campus, their relationships, their expansion of communities and influence on campus, and their TIME to do so.  I don’t see this as “taking our campus” for the gospel, as much as our students are incarnations of the gospel that they take with them to every part of campus.

The reality, is that their ability to take the gospel with them, full of an imagination of how the gospel speaks to every part of campus.  My responsibility to them is to help them stage productions of the kingdom of God all over campus.  This shapes, then, how I see my role as a collegiate minister/chaplain/pastor/teacher/director.

Provocateur and Raconteur

This is a phrase borrowed from Kevin VanHoozer in his work, Drama of Doctrine. He uses it to describe the roll of the canon in shaping the church’s corporate identity and witness.  This has led me to a deeper appreciation of Jesus’ teaching.

  • To be the provocateur is not to challenge everything, but to gently dislodge assumptions and orientation in order to have a thick understanding of our faith, even if that is to reclaim the original position.
  • To be the raconteur is to participate in and have a story to tell.  Our directions to students don’t go far, but they’ll follow an inspiring story to the ends of the earth!

Playwriter and Critic

family-theater-2008-wAgain, borrowed from Drama of Doctrine, VanHoozer describes the roll of the pastor is to, “…lead the people of God to mount local productions of the kingdom of God.”

  • To be the playwriter is not to take the place of God, but is to help students discern their unique participation in this ongoing production.  I’m more interested in helping them discern their unique role than casting them in the wrong role.  Could anyone other than Mickey Rourke have played that role in The Wrestler?!
  • My friend and college pastor Joe Belzer has said numerous times that discipleship is 99% encouragement.  And he modeled that.  Which means that 1% of the time it is playing the role of the critic.  And he modeled that in my life as well!  The critic does not create, but one who is good at what he or she does helps refine what is already in production.  We never want to invert these roles to be 99% criticism and 1% creation, and nor do we want to ignore the role of refiner, it is part of the maturing process.

The reality is, I love our leaders every year.  And every year, some don’t meet expectations and some wildly surpass them.  And I’m sure they feel the same about me.  My hope and prayer is that they leave inspired to keep staging new productions of the Kingdom of God everywhere they go.


I’ve been reading Mac Lake’s stuff recently with Seacost Church, some great stuff recently on New Movements in Leadership Development, there are four parts all worth a read.



  1. Incisive and helpful. Great utilization of VanHoozer’s thought. Maybe one of these days I will actually read him.

  2. great post Tim! thanks for sharing the Provocateur and Raconteur and Playwriter and Critic. those are helpful.

    when you said “And every year, some don’t meet expectations and some wildly surpass them.” have you seen a pattern emerge in terms of percentage of those who meet/don’t meet/surpass expectations?

    it has worked out to about 20/70/10 (surpass, meet, don’t meet) in my experience. wondering how that matches up in other contexts.

  3. Brian, I have habit of rooting for the underdog, so I probably choose heavy on the “hopeful” side. So, if I think about it based on every 10 leaders, I think my breakdown would probably be 20/60/20.

    I do wonder on a broader scale though what that looks like for types of campus ministries.

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