Leadership is a curious thing.
I think it’s safe to say that most people would love to lead in a particular subject or area of work. But often people don’t want to put in the courage, work, and responsibility or don’t even have the conviction to lead others. In the very roots of leading though, courage is the water that feeds the conviction to lead others. And I have to say, courage is not one of my strengths. That’s why I tend to be a great helper to an authority but struggle to actually lead another group of people. Summit Ministries though, is a particularly incredible source in equipping disciples of Jesus Christ not only to defend the faith winsomely and articulately but they also enable you to have the courage and the conviction to lead others to know the truth and love of Jesus Christ.
This is my first year staffing for Summit Ministries. I knew I loved being a student and learning from great speakers but it’s a different animal once you actually apply what you have learned to serving and discipling others. I wasn’t terribly sure what to expect as a staffer. However, I knew based on what I had learned from the conferences and what I have learned as a disciple of Jesus that I wanted to lead and care for other students and see them grow in their love and joy in the Gospel and know why the Gospel is so vital for humanity.
But that courage part, well, was the difficult part. I wasn’t sure how the leaders would prepare us to lead a group of students, and I wasn’t too sure how I would prepare, so I was pretty nervous on the first day when we arrived to California before the conference. But luckily, Summit proved me wrong in light of preparing for leading.
We spent 3 days going through the foundational subjects of the conference such as worldviews, metanarrative, and theology, social issues and sexual ethics. We also had intensive training in how to lead small groups, how to engage in one-on-one’s with students and encouraging advice from past staffers. I was thoroughly impressed by how much time the leadership of Summit took the time to come alongside us new staffers to educate us and prepare us to lead the students vigorously. That says a lot about a ministry who takes seriously the discipleship of the students who come to their conferences.
I think the best thing that gave me courage to lead as a staffer, though, aside from the knowledge and training, was the love, support and affirmation of an incredible community of believers even in the midst of us sometimes making mistakes. The experienced staff encouraged us to be ourselves with our small groups; to do our best to lead and facilitate our small groups but don’t try to be this perfect superhero of a small group leader that is joy-robbing and exhausting. They also emphasized that they were always there to support us to help us when we needed help to lead and would always encourage us to grow in the midst of our short-comings and mistakes. Not only did the staff educate us, they also cared for us and stayed present. Summit not only educates you in knowledge but they also teach you how to love and serve people as disciples should.
Through Summit, they have now given me not just knowledge but also plenty of opportunity to grow as a leader. Through staffing Summit, I had the privilege of managing the conference bookstore; getting to exercise my public speaking muscles with making announcements; facilitating a group of guys; discipling my small group in their walk of following Christ and helping them through hard questions, doubts and big decisions in life.
I think another awesome part of Summit is also that the majority of their staff are young adults in their teens and 20s. I think I’m starting to catch on what Summit is trying to do here: Summit not only wants to educate young people through their conferences but they also want to disciple young people so those young people can also disciple and lead more young people. Educated, loved and well-grounded disciples making more educated, loved and well-grounded disciples. Summit not only is teaching in the conferences but they are also teaching in their staffing, as well.
I would highly recommend anyone who wants to get their foot in the door of ministry to work a Summit Student Conference. The leadership team educates and trains you while also loving and caring for you. You get to make friends, disciple friends, learn with friends and have fun with friends as a job. What more could you ask? Just today after having lunch with some guys during the California conference, I went back outside to play volleyball with some friends, then after I got to listen to a great lecture by Sean McDowell and then later that night I get to build relationship and work through great questions with good friends.
I had to think to myself, “I could really get used to this as a job.”