Dustin Jizmejian: Leadership 

by Maria Croyle (Iowa)

When I saw Dustin Jizmejian’s name on the list of speakers that would be coming to Semester I was excited to hear his lectures, and learn how to properly pronounce his last name. I had the privilege to hear Dustin in Manitou Springs, Colorado when I went to a Student Conference session in 2018. Dustin’s topic at Semester for us was leadership and what good leadership should look like.

The book that was assigned for us to read upon Dustin’s arrival was In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen. A few of our staff members had previously used this book for their morning devotions, and I was ready to open up this book and begin reading it for myself. Something that I really enjoyed about this book, was not only was it one of the smaller books that was sitting on my desk that I had to read but how the book taught me that to be a leader you have to first let yourself be led. The idea in the world today is that the powerful and the wealthy are the ones that are the cream of the crop. This tempts me to want to be powerful, to be over others. But what I discovered through the book is that Jesus is our ultimate example of a leader. He was a servant and willingly humbled himself to listen to others. He was being led first before leading others.

My favorite class with Dustin was one of his first lectures, which was more of an activity.

He had all of the students take a “mindstyle delineator” test. The test was a kind of self-assessment that helped exhibit the different ways people think. The four categories were CS (Concrete, Sequential), CR (Concrete, Random), AR (Abstract, Random), and AS (Abstract, Sequential). After stressing over the test for longer than I should have, I came out with my results. I was a high AR, meaning my thought process is all over the place. I think of one thing and that one thought explodes into a million other thoughts that connect to each other in some way–think of a spider web. I want to have deep relationships with others, I am compassionate, spontaneous, and want to make a difference in people’s lives. A reason why Dustin wanted us to take this test was to display that other people may not necessarily have the same thought process as you do. It was fascinating for me to see how my classmates and I behave in certain ways that connect to our ways of thinking. Dustin taught us that as a leader it is effective to relate to your followers in the ways that they think instead of your own.

Throughout the days, Dustin talked about what good leadership should look like in a Christian’s life. Dustin asked us what leadership should resemble. Many people’s answers were along the line of a person who guides and directs a group toward a certain goal. He then talked about the differences in how the culture views good leadership versus how Christians should view good leadership. As Christians, we should use Jesus Christ as an example of what a noble leader should demonstrate. Jesus as a leader was consistent, He spoke the truth in love, He genuinely cared about people, He was not arrogant or dominating, and He came into the world to serve others.

What I learned throughout those few short days is that a leader should be personal, focusing on serving and nurturing others, instead of centering my attention on what I want and what my needs are. To be a great leader I need to submit myself first, needing to be led by others before leading others.