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Turning A Student Into A Servant Leader

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This article written by Dr. David Fincher (‘93) president@cccb.edu

You may have seen the phrase “servant-leader” in our mission statement: Developing Servant-Leaders for the Church. Please let me explain why we work hard to turn students into servant-leaders.

Robert Greenleaf (greenleaf.org) is known as the founder of the modern servant leadership movement. In the late 1960s, he was trying to answer the question of how anyone could successfully lead in a society that had lost respect for traditional authority. In his book Servant Leadership: A Journey Into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness, he wrote,

“They will respond only to individuals who are chosen as leaders because they are proven and trusted as servants. In the future, the only truly viable institutions will be those that are predominantly servant led.”

How does this relate to the church? Earlier generations may have submitted to whomever was behind the pulpit. Now, only servants will be respected and followed. Jesus Himself modeled and taught this principle: Leadership is not about titles and positions, but about serving others, as He served others by giving His life (Mark 10:42-45; Luke 22:24-27). A student who learns to serve like Jesus can better lead the church, behind the pulpit or in any other capacity.

To help our students become servant-leaders, we use various programs where they experience serving others.

Service Learning – Each student is expected to learn through completing four hours of weekly service. They work with a supervisor, serving children, visiting the elderly, helping with tasks, and assisting in classes or services. They see mature Christian leaders in action and become acquainted with the needs of people.

Day of Service – Each semester, we cancel classes for a day and assign students to group projects, like working at a church, a Christian camp, a children’s home, or in the house of someone overwhelmed by necessary maintenance tasks. They learn to serve with others and make a big difference in a short period of time.

Service Teams – Many students prepare for months to go on a mission trip. Travel teams visit Christian camps, conferences, or churches to work with students. Some serve a church weekly, leading congregational worship and youth groups. These experiences help them learn things they would never discover in a classroom.

Field Education / Apprenticeships – Before a student receives a ministry degree, he or she works with an experienced professional on a successful site. This allows students to practice key tasks in their field. The grade they earn is important, but the extended practice is vital.

Look at the cover of this newsletter again. The historic pulpit represents the ministry of the church. The faces are those who have been impacted by our generous scholarship programs. Join me in praying for them to be the servant-leaders the church needs during the 21st century.

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