Lead Like Jesus

Students Develop Christian Leadership Through Training

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Beyond the leadership retreat, students have opportunities to grow in leadership together through more extensive training and guidance.

Every Monday morning before most Westminster students arrive at school, a group of students gathers to study the book Lead Like Jesus, led by Ashley Woodall, Assistant Director of Student Life, and Dr. Dave Schall, Dean of Students.

“We are always looking for ways to provide training for our leaders in addition to the practical experience students get leading in the various areas of the school. Ms. Woodall had read this book before, recommended it to me, and we both agreed it would be a great tool to use,” said Mr. Schall. After sending an email out to gauge student interest, eighteen signed up to buy the book and meet on Monday mornings starting at 7:00 am.

“I think it was definitely a sacrifice for me personally to attend. I am not a morning person, and I’m slow to get out the door. Meeting at 7:00 was a challenge,” said Grace Johler, junior.

“We hope to be able to give them [students] leadership tools to carry out their leadership roles well. Although we can do a lot of on the job training, we wanted them to be able to have a time set aside to dig into what good leadership looks like and what it takes,” said Woodall, who decided the knowledge gained from the book and discussions was worth the sacrifice of meeting on Monday mornings.

“It [Lead Like Jesus] taught me that leadership is about influence. and we all have influence whether we realize it or not. Do I lead in a way that is solely beneficial to me or am I using whatever influence God as given me to serve others and advance the kingdom?,” said Woodall.

The aspect of leadership as influence taught the students the impact they have on all the people with whom they interact.

“I knew it [leadership] carried weight and Jesus did it, but I didn’t realize the impact it can have on others,” said Johler. Lead Like Jesus emphasized the opportunities to serve people in all areas of life.

“Brothers and sisters can be leaders, a good friend can be a leader, and the only one in a group who says ‘no’ can be a leader,” said Schall.  

However, not all the messages from the book were easily applicable for the students involved.

“I found that students struggle to make connections between broad or abstract leadership principles and his or her own leadership roles. But that’s the fun part of the role Ms. Woodall and I played in this study; we get to help them make that connection,” said Schall.

Woodall and Schall led by directing conversation page by page of the assigned reading. Students could ask questions or share quotes that stood out to them.

“I think this book could be a “staple” textbook in any leadership training because it outlines the leadership principles of the greatest leader of all time. Starting with 12 broken and fallen men, over 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ changed the world, one relationship at a time,” said Schall. Over 2.2 billion people across the globe now follow Jesus.

Although the group has now finished the book, Miss Woodall and Dr. Schall are considering repeating the training for newly interested students.

“I definitely want to be a part of more of these conversations just as much for my own benefit as the students. We all have much to learn. I think the desire to learn how to “lead like Jesus” is there for many of us,” said Woodall.