Emerging leaders boosts leadership at OBU

Payton Clark, News Editor

Jesus…the President of the United States… your youth pastor. All of these are considered leaders by most people, but what defines a leader, and who can be one? Emerging Leaders is hoping to break the stereotype and teach all students how to be a leader.

Last Tuesday Oct. 3, students had the opportunity to learn more about Emerging Leaders, a leadership building program, during an informational meeting. Students interested in learning more about the group can visit the Spiritual Life office and submit applications by Monday.

“Jesus never held a position of leadership, but look what he did to the culture around them, how he impacted them, even today,” Director of Student Ministry Clay Phillips said.

Junior member Kennedy Turner describes Emerging Leaders as a class rather than an organization, like social clubs or campus groups.

“It’s more of a leadership building program, and it’s kind of like a class but we don’t want it to be just discussion based,” Turner said. “We do team building and communication activities within the hour meeting. We’re going to start focusing on applying what they’ve learned, so leaving with a challenge that they can apply whatever they learned that week.”

According to Turner, Emerging leaders is structured by how many years students have been in the program.

“First years come to Emerging Leaders to learn, and they’re the person we’re investing in,” Turner said . “Second years are someone who has already been through the program, who will sit at the tables and lead discussion, and build intentional relationships with the first years. Third years pour into the second years and lead how the year will go for Emerging Leaders.”

New Emerging Leaders members, or first years, can expect to learn more about themselves through the program.

“Predominantly your first year experience is a lot of self-awareness and self- learning,” Phillips said. “You go through some curriculum and some processes that help you learn who you are. So it’s a long look at self, to see what your strengths and weaknesses are. ”The program uses a book study and multiple personal tests to teach students about themselves and their leadership skills.

A normal Emerging Leaders meeting starts with snacks and time to get to know each other, followed by curriculum and group discussions.

We typically do an activity, like in the first semester going through and walking students through the assessments and things that they’ve done, and then we’ll lead them in group discussion,” Phillips said. “They’ll discuss the principles they’re learning about themselves, and how that impacts what it is that they’re doing.”

Interested students can apply by this Friday or Monday by filling out an application.

“Come pick up an application from the spiritual life office, or if you know a student involved in emerging leaders speak with them about how to get in contact, and we could probably get applications through those students or leaders,” Phillips said.

The book “Placed” is used as curriculum along with tests to help students learn about themselves.

“In our meetings we use the “Placed”, using spiritual gifts tests, personality tests and strengths tests to learn more about yourself and what kind of leader you are,” Turner said. “You learn how your personality can clash or work well with others, and how to use your spiritual gifts, so it’s all about you the first semester.”

“Placed” provides information that most people might not even know about themselves.

“That’s going to help you learn how you operate because a lot of people don’t even understand how they function, or what their personality type is,” Phillips said. “Students haven’t even considered that, how that personality works with or against other personalities and how to function best in a group or organization based on your natural personality. That’ll help you find your position in organizations so that you can be successful.”

The second semester of a first year’s experience discusses characteristics of a leader and how to use them in every aspect of life.

“We talk about some leadership traits that you can work towards or learn to develop, which are going to help you in every setting, regardless of your personality,” Phillips said. “Just some basic qualities of a leader, that we feel like leaders need to exhibit, things that are going to propel you into leadership roles.”

Emerging Leaders hopes to challenge the traditional views of leadership to show that anyone can be a leader.

“It’s super cool because whenever we think of what a leader is we try to break down the stereotype and show that you don’t have to be an extrovert or some big known person to be a leader,” Turner said. “The second semester we’re putting that into action and see how they build up a leader.”

Phillips says the most important focus of Emerging Leaders is based on the Great Commission call to make disciples, requiring leadership.

“When I think of teaching someone to obey all that Jesus has commanded, you’re leading them,” Phillips said. “I think that when you have the opportunity to learn about leadership, you should take that opportunity [because] regardless of positional leadership you can lead a lot of people.” According to Phillips, Emerging Leaders particularly focuses on leadership as something that doesn’t require positional power.

“Something we talk about is that everyone has the opportunity to be a leader, and so in that first year we’re trying to develop what your type of leadership looks like,” Phillips said. “How do you lead from the inside, how do you have an impact?”

Students don’t have to have big titles to be leaders in the communities.

“There are going to be some who lead in a greater capacity, who have influence because of position or something over more people,” Phillips said. “But that doesn’t mean people who aren’t in those positions can’t lead or be leaders.”

Phillips says that the program will show students how to be successful in whatever they do.

“Part of the temptation for students is that if they’re not in a position of leadership they don’t feel as valued, they feel like they’re not as important and that’s certainly not the case,” Phillips said. “In learning these leadership skills, it’ll teach them that they’re just as important as the president of an organization, and they have inherent value just because they’re made in the image of God.”

The skills learned in Emerging Leaders are different from programs at other schools due to the Christ-centered focus and value for all.

“And that’s particularly how we’re different at OBU in teaching leadership as compared to somewhere else, that we seek value in each and every person,” Phillips said. “And these skills are going to teach them how to cooperate better, whether that’s in a study group or a discipleship group, or their church life, or an organization on campus.”

Turner says that understanding yourself is one of the most important lessons she’s learned from Emerging Leaders.

“I think one of the most important things that I’ve learned was that you have to know yourself to lead yourself, and then to lead others,” Turner said. “If you don’t know that your personality clashes with someone then you won’t be able to work with them in a way that’s most efficient. Even if you think you know yourself, you can always learn more.”


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