Clare Bekkers

Finding balance in ministry leadership

By  Clare Bekkers, Youth Speak News
  • May 1, 2015

Leadership positions in campus ministry are invariably rewarding. They nurture relationships between peers that are rooted in faith and create a comfortable space where students can feel open to grow in confidence in their devotion to Christ.

What is particularly challenging in maintaining a healthy ministry is the level of commitment from participating members.

Too much commitment or dependence on one person can be risky, and too little could lead to a distancing in leadership.

I’ve often found myself giving too much to my chaplaincy by way of managerial commitments. As a result, I have felt drained trying to hold the fort up by myself. I felt like I was highly depended on to accomplish tasks. I found myself attending all the events not because I wanted to, but because I was expected to. This put me in a position where I lost the passion I had for sharing my faith, opportunities that, beforehand, I got excited about.

This is not the way God intended us to evangelize. Leadership should not be an emptying experience, but one that lifts you up.

The purpose of campus ministry is to help students grow in their faith during university, offer assistance and present opportunities for fellowship. Student leaders are not excluded from that kind of support. In my experience, this is where I lost my footing. I felt my only contribution benefitting my chaplaincy was in organizing and planning events. I separated myself from the faith component. What I needed was a change in scenery.

Feeling lost, I decided to resign from my leadership position. And it was the best decision I could have made because I had to look at campus ministry from another angle to reboot my faith.

Not having leadership responsibilities within the chaplaincy, I see (once again) the beauty campus ministry offers to students. Since everyone is at a different place in his or her faith journey, everyone has something different to offer — and this is an extremely valuable asset to gathering a group of faithful peers together. Within a chaplaincy there are people that can mentor you, offering support and spiritual advice when you need it. There are people that can walk beside you, to count on, offering fellowship and protection through the journey of faith. Then there are people who you can mentor, investing in their lives in a way that will enable them to grow in their faith.

People were created to be in relationship with one another. I see now that separating myself from the opportunity of fostering these kinds of relationships dried up my faith. I put my title above my real role in my ministry group — my role as a peer, a mentor and a role model.

Student leaders undoubtedly have an important role to play within campus ministry. But it is vital that in these positions of authority, their own faith journeys are not neglected. Most crucially, being a leader for a campus ministry group is not just so you can serve other students. The main objective in leading a ministry group is to serve God, by bringing students closer to Him; a valuable lesson I will not soon forget.

(Bekkers, 21, is a third-year English student at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S.)

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