In my opinion the enthusiasm, ideas and energy college age people bring to the table cannot be compared to another age stage. We ought to allow them to take the lead, assume responsibility, and in some capacity to even tell us what should be done. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to lead them nor does it suggest we can be aloof when it comes to understanding some balances to be watchful of.
One of the best lessons I learned through the years is to take things slowly and especially when it comes to putting people into leadership positions. One of the balances we need to be very careful of working in college ministry is that of giftedness and character. College age people aren’t lacking in giftedness, but character can be an issue. Now, I know plenty of college age people that have a very solid character, but I also know those that have giftedness that far surpasses their character. This was my story when I was in college. I had some gifts, but my character fell far behind. I wasn’t living a crazy lifestyle, but I didn’t have to for my character to be lacking. It’s said that giftedness is what gets you places, but character is what keeps you there. We need to focus on the character of people and intentionally think through whether or not giving them a leadership position (in any capacity) is best for their long term character development. We don’t usually think about it this way. We see the gifts someone has and then typically release them in ministry. But often times this can lead to a damaged heart and potentially one filled with so much pride that it causes their ministry to come to an end. So, I’d encourage you to be very mindful of who you place in leadership. They don’t need to be perfect (we certainly are not), but there ought to be a balance of how we lead them in developing their character and giftedness.
College age people can have a tendency to push for their gifts to be developed, but not necessarily their character. This usually isn’t ill motive on their part as much as it’s ignorance and a lack of wisdom. They want to be used by God, which is a great thing, but they have limited life experience to see beyond this and into their own heart. God desires them to be Christ-like in character, not necessarily to be used like Christ was used. Differentiating this for college age people and helping them understand where we’re coming from can be a very lengthy process, but it’s worth it.