Nobody is more responsible for your leadership development and growth than you. This article by Adrian Pei of Epic’s Leadership Development team is about the countless opportunities God has provided that we can learn and grow from, if only we have the eyes to see them. It also describes much of what Epic’s full and part-time staff programs have to offer.
You can read the full text of the article below, or you can directly download the pdf here: Seeing and Stewarding Leadership. Many thanks to Whitney Chen for her work on article formatting and design!
Nobody is more responsible for your leadership growth and development than you.
College and post-college years can be some of the most confusing and intimidating years of life. There are so many decisions to make: what will I study and pursue as a career? Who will be my friends? Will I date and get married? What do I believe?
Much of this is because we are still in the formative years of figuring out who we are. These are our first years living away from our parents, and it’s normal to feel the shift — it’s our life, our
choices that matter. We face the consequences, good and bad, of our decisions. Grasping this reality can be paralyzing, as we are tempted to wait for the right answer to come to us, or somebody to show us the way.
However, when seen another way, these years can also be exciting and empowering, because God has given us this freedom and ability to choose and shape who we are! After all, we are not robots, but individuals created uniquely to live out a greater purpose. Like a master storyteller, God is weaving together our lives to surround us with countless opportunities designed for us to develop and grow into who He intended us to be. There are people, events, ideas, and even challenges and tests that can teach us an incredible amount — right before our eyes. That is, if we are able to see them, and embrace them so we can grow.
College and Life Leadership Opportunities
When I think back on my college years, I was surrounded by incredible people — people who were different from me and could challenge me to grow. They were different in ethnicity, socioeconomic class, personality, and religion. The key was for me to realize this unique opportunity. With intentionality, I could ask somebody to mentor me who was older and wiser, or seek to learn new cultures by making friends of various ethnicities or socioeconomic classes. College brings a diversity of people together in ways that are easy and accessible for students. With the right perspective, I could broaden my horizons without having to travel
outside the college campus itself!
But it’s all a matter of how we see things: do we avoid people because they are different and make us uncomfortable, or do we seek them out and allow them to teach us and broaden our perspectives?
The same applies to other areas, whether in college or post-college. Are the classes and jobs we have obligations or burdens, or are they opportunities to learn valuable life and thinking skills? Many of my classes and first jobs out of college were foundational for learning how to write, think, and solve problems. Many of the group projects that I dreaded were my first opportunities to learn to lead a team of peers, and to work through conflict while under pressure. Planning for my wedding was my first opportunity to make significant financial decisions with a partner, as we were learning to establish our common values and approach to money, family, and other important areas.
I could go on, but just consider all the opportunities that life brings to us. Now, think about ministry and the additional opportunities and resources that come with that, in a ministry like Epic Movement and Cru!
Epic and Cru Leadership Opportunities
Think about the events and experiences you can attend and even help organize, whether it’s summer missions projects, student or staff conferences. You can travel the world and learn about the value of your ethnicity, and figure out what you believe, while as a student. If you’re an intern or part-time field staff, you may be entrusted to lead a team! You will plan outreaches, learn to mediate conflict, and mentor others to draw out the best in them. How many organizations out there will provide such rich developmental opportunities at such a young age and level of experience?
Before you even join as an intern, STINTer or staff member, you have the opportunity to do MPD (ministry partner development), and learn to cast vision, build a team of trusted partners, and learn the meaning of trust and dependence on God. Perhaps you have the chance to live at home during that process, and learn how to have hard and important conversations with your parents about your life, career path and decisions. Then when you start working on campus, there are opportunities to step out in faith while doing evangelism, as you learn to communicate with boldness and respect, and grow in your confidence and ability to handle
rejection. You have chances to disciple others and build them in their faith, as you invest in their development as leaders. In working with a team, you can discover your unique strengths and gifts, and learn to see conflicts and differences not as burdens or distractions, but as opportunities for growth.
Along the way, you have events that set you up (i.e. intern kick-off weekend and orientation, missions briefing conference), and help you assess and adjust (intern mid-year, student and staff conferences). There is training and curriculum, whether it’s Cru’s new staff and intern curriculum, CruDoctrine, or Epic’s movement launching course. There are Epic’s own resource website, CruPress Green, and countless other articles and tools online to enrich your learning. Do you see how limitless the resources and opportunities are?
Signs of “Successful” Leaders
Today, I believe I can identify leaders who will likely be “successful” when I first meet them, before I know much about them. It’s not because I know what the future holds for them or what career or life paths will open up for them. It’s because they are self-motivated, and pursue growth and learning with initiative and intentionality. Successful leaders are humble learners who always believe they have room to grow. Any of you can grow into being this kind of leader!
Recently, I attended an Epic student conference and when I saw the quality of the training that was being provided, I thought to myself: I wish I had this kind of training when I was in college! But then I realized, Maybe I did. The real question is, did I see and realize the training and opportunities that were all around me?
Did I own and embrace my responsibility for my own growth and leadership, or did I wait around for somebody else to tell me the way?
Epic is committed to mentoring and developing each of its leaders, and will continue to improve its training, because it’s important. Moreover, God has given us the gift of community and of His own guidance along the path of our growth — He has promised that He will not leave us alone. However, we must remember that ultimately, He has given us the gift of choice and of stewardship of our own lives and development. We are responsible for the leaders we become a year from now, 5 years from now, and 25 years into the future. Embrace that precious truth and gift, and learn to steward the countless opportunities around you! Don’t miss out on the work He wants to do in and through you, even now.
- When you think about your current stage of life, what are some unique circumstances that could help you to learn and grow?
- Think about the events and training you’ve gone through this year. What have you taken from them? How might you better capitalize on future events and training?
- Think about the people around you: older, younger, or your peers. Who might you initiate with, to learn from? (Think of both known and unlikely sources of people in your life)
- In what ways do you want to grow in your leadership in the next year? 5 years? Make a plan incorporating events, training, people, and leadership experiences to help towards your goals. Bring it to your leaders for feedback and accountability.
Article formatting and design by: Whitney Chen