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Godly Leaders in Training and Practice

Godly Leaders in Training and Practice

Life is full of transitions. Life transitions are often prompted by transformative experiences during college when one evolves from adolescent to adult, and from student to professional. Perhaps the most valuable transition is from follower to leader.

Greenville College provides training and experiences to develop Christian leaders. Students are exposed to servant leadership to demonstrate the example set by Christ. They not only train to be Godly servant leaders, but they also practice leadership in challenging situations.

Leadership development comes in a variety of forms at Greenville College. It is folded into athletics, academic courses, chapel addresses and training retreats. Student leaders, such as those involved in student government, participate in a ten-day backpacking trip called Walkabout in the pristine reaches of the Smokey Mountain wilderness. During the trip, they spend 48 hours alone with little more than a page of scripture and some water as they reflect on the Word and pray about how they will influence other students for Christ.

“The first form of leadership is self-leadership,” said Dustin Fenton, associate dean of campus activities and leadership development. “If students begin to own and embody that vision for their lives, others will be influenced by their drive and determined direction.”

When they emerge from the solo fast, they participate in a five-mile mountain walk/run where they are charged with praying for a specific person or situation. Student leaders learn about active listening, labor sharing, and carrying one another’s burdens in prayer.

Some student leaders at Greenville College train with Chaplain Lori Gaffner. Where other schools have resident assistants, Greenville College has resident chaplains who provide guidance for residential students. Gaffner invests in the resident chaplains teaching them how to respond to challenging situations and to inspire their peers to respond to God’s call.

Leadership training provides a solid foundation for students at Greenville College, and everyday practice allows them to exemplify leadership abilities. “I involve students in active learning environments and promote ways for students to try on various levels of leadership and influence through campus activities and events,” said Fenton. Students engage their leadership abilities when they are placed in positions of influence. “It’s exciting to watch the transformation that occurs when students realize their decisions result in tangible, significant outcomes,” said Fenton. From planning campus activities and managing publications to producing AgapeFest, an annual Christian music festival, student leaders at Greenville understand the risks and rewards that come with positions of influence, and they navigate challenges with guidance from Christian mentors.

“What is constant throughout all campus leadership opportunities are the people mentoring students in these roles,” said Fenton. “Faculty and staff are passionate about serving and influencing others to be more like Christ.”

Greenville College believes that God created each of its students to uniquely shape the world, and the school inspires students to embrace God’s call. “Godly leaders stimulate personal growth by inspiring those around them,” said President Ivan Filby. “As president, one of my jobs is to push the passion for leadership throughout the whole college into faculty, into administrators, and ultimately into students.”

This story was published on November 18, 2013

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