Mar 27, 2017


Head, Heart, Hands – 3 Essentials for the Collegiate Leader

Featured Writer Andy Abramson defines the three essentials every collegiate ministry leader needs:  head, heart, and hands.

I remember the excitement of starting my first college ministry as an 18-year-old freshman just out of high school. I think about all the mistakes I made and the learning I had to do in those early years as a young ministry leader. I feel so thankful for the people God placed around me in order to help grow and develop my leadership in those early days. They helped shape me into the person I am today. For them, it was never just about that singular moment of that specific college ministry but had to do more with the development of me for the future. Leadership is among the hottest topics in our church circles. We have more resources than ever on the topic of leadership. Nonetheless, the question remains, are we developing complete leaders? As we have been working with leaders around the country over the past several years, here are three simple questions that we ask as we hope to develop complete leaders.

Question #1 – What do I want them to know? (head/knowledge)
Have you ever been put in a position of leadership only to feel ill equipped in your understanding of how to do that job?  As most of us know, an essential part of leadership is obtaining the knowledge to respond correctly in a given situation or to do a particular job.  As we develop leaders we need to ask the question, what do they have to know?  What foundational theological principles do they need to learn?  What types of things should they know to be successful in their leadership position?   As we develop leaders, we are in a position to impart the things that we have learned and the mistakes we have made to allow the people we are developing to accelerate their leadership process. Knowledge is critical to a successful leader!

Question #2 – Who do I want them to be? (heart/character)
Growing up in a home that was passionately about loving Jesus and loving others, there was a verse that became the mantra around our house.  Even sitting here, I can hear my dad quoting this verse to me in my middle school and high school years.  That verse was Colossians 1:28 – “We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone complete in Christ.”  I often think about this verse when training college leaders.  How do I present this leader complete in Christ?  How will God use me to continue to shape this leader to produce a spiritual depth that is long-lasting? The development of a leader’s character is essential to what God wants to do in their life. What the scriptures show us, is that God is faithful to produce in us a character that is reflective of Him. In our sanctification, we will begin to look more and more like Jesus.  Often this character change comes about through the revelation within God’s Word and in a community as we live day by day next to people who are pushing us to reflect Jesus. As we lead leaders, we need to walk alongside them in this transformation process and understand that leadership isn’t just about what they do, but also who they are. Our job is to help cultivate the character of these individuals!

Question #3 – What skills do they need to have? (hands/skills)
I remember my first year of speaking as a young youth pastor.  It was rough, to say the least. I needed to practice giving messages to improve my skill.  But I also remember a youth ministry class in college where we talked about the art of speaking. My professor provided me the tools that accelerated my growth as a speaker. Up until this class I wasn’t even aware that I needed the tools he gave me. They were invaluable to me and are still concepts that I use 20 years later.  As leaders, there are certain skill sets and tools that are beneficial as we begin to lead well.  As we develop leaders, we need to give them the resources for success.

I want us to feel the weight of opportunity that we have to pour into the lives of young leaders and to grow them not just for today but for the future as well. Let’s be committed to developing complete leaders in all three areas of knowledge, character, and skills. Let’s think about the opportunities we have to shape their leadership not just for the jobs we need them to do, but rather the shaping of them as complete leaders positioning them for maximum impact in all areas of their lives. The call to train college ministry leaders is an honor, as we have an opportunity to shape culture-changers well into the future!

about the author

Andy Abramson

Andy is the founder and visionary leader of Verge Ministries. Verge Ministries has a heart to equip college and young adult leaders to effectively multiply ministry in their local contexts through training, networking and ministry development. Andy is passionate about college/young adult leaders. He is married to Jenn and has 5 children.