School Leadership Team Role in Talent Spotting
by Laurence Singlehurst
A key element of effective teaching/mentoring that has been urged from the foundation of the U of N has been purposeful, planned, weekly one-on-one meetings between students and school staff. This is essential to maximize the learning opportunity of the school. Lawrence Singlehurst, Director of Training for YWAM England, in this paper encourages us in how to use three of these weekly one-on-one encounters.
As school leaders/staff in Youth With a Mission's University of the Nations we want to rejoice in the privilege and rise to the challenges of:
- Discovering and releasing new pioneer leaders;
- Linking our students to ministry opportunities in YWAM, and missions in general, and;
- Informing our students of the diverse training schools, seminars and short courses offered in the U of N to equip them for the work of the ministry that they might be salt and light in society at large. We recognize that some of our current recruiting methods are not as effective as we would desire.
A non-strategic, random presentation of service and training opportunities is not what best recruits students. Many of the students are in fact confused by the number of opportunities presented to them and the amount of work required, on their part, to do anything about following up those opportunities, especially in an unfamiliar environment like YWAM/U of N.
Though young pioneer leaders and many other potential missionaries have actually been in our schools, they have tended to drift in and back out again. It seems that this has often been primarily because no specific personal challenge, nor helpful service, has been given to the student to facilitate him or her in "finding their place" in ministry based on their own God-given personal interests, gifts, abilities and calling to YWAM or missions in general. The question we must ask as school leaders and staff is how can we rectify this situation?
One of the greatest joys of a school leader/staff is not only seeing the student well discipled and mature in Christ, but also placed in an effective place of ministry, whatever their gifts. Therefore, the role of "talent spotting" is of primary importance.
One of the historical changes that we have seen in YWAM is that the school leader, in the early years, was often the most senior leader on a base. In fact, he was often the base director. He had a lot of vision and authority and knew what his next vision and objectives were. Therefore, he could present very specific challenges and opportunities to young pioneer leaders. As YWAM has developed, these leaders have been replaced by those who are more specifically called and trained to lead schools, and rightly so. However, many times school leaders don't have the same authority and vision to enable them to offer such specific challenges as did the base leader.
Here are some recommendations that may be helpful for you to think about and discuss. I am sure they are not the only solutions, but they could be a start.
Recommendation Number One: Being a "Talent Spotter"
School leaders need to be deliberately aware that a major part of their job is to be a Talent Spotter. To be successful in this area they should be informed by their line-leaders of the specific skills they are looking for and have some key job descriptions in hand. Then when the school leader spots the unique gifts in each student, he can get in touch with the appropriate line-leader and they come to the school because their person may be there. As our DTSs and other schools are our prime recruiting ground for the whole of YWAM we believe it is very important that the DTS and all schools recognize they are part of a national, regional and international work with a responsibility to appropriately channel people into the larger ministry.
Recommendation Number Two: the "Three Interview System"
All school leaders should take personal responsibility for seeing people effectively linked and placed in missions. The "Three Interview System" has proven to be very effective for all who are using it.
- First Interview: Survey the student's interests, gifts, abilities, and ministry desires. Some of the questions suggested may help. At the beginning of the school interview each student and ask what is in their heart and what type of ministry are they interested in, i.e. are they interested in staying on in YWAM? If so, in what capacity? What are their gifts, abilities, and general or specific ministry interests? Following this interview the school leader/staff may share with them a list of personnel vacancies in his own country and specific information regarding overseas needs.
- Second Interview: Present specific opportunities for the student's prayerful consideration. At this stage the school leader/staff presents strategic, specific ministry opportunities that are in line with the student's expressed desires, dreams, interests and sense of calling. The student is asked to consider and pray about the specific opportunities. The school leader then offers to help coordinate or arrange for the student to meet with the leaders of those specific local ministries. The school leader could also contact overseas leaders and arrange for the student to visit the appropriate ministry centre, etc. It is important that the school leader make it as easy as possible for the student to be linked into their calling and ministry. The more assistance we give the students in the beginning, the better. Often our system is understandable to us but intimidating for newcomers.
- Third Interview: Help each student follow up with opportunities to be pursued. Towards the end of the school the school leader will see any progress made, or any decision the student has made concerning their future. The school leader may need to make himself available to help the student if they have not been able to make the right contacts, or aid in bringing further understanding to the process. The third interview should be well before the final weeks of the school. When students return from a long school outreach they are often emotionally and spiritually exhausted. Unless there has been significant progress made in giving the student information, or linking them to the right people and therefore engaging them in forward moving processes well before the end of the school, the students seem to take the easiest pathway: they often go back home.
Questions to Help Students Focus on Their Future Direction
- On which small team outreach are you planning to go?
- Immediately after the school my plans are to...?
- My long term plans are to...?
- If I stay in YWAM after the school I might like to...?
- What are you good at (e.g. practical skills, talents, Christian ministry, etc.)?
- What training have you received?
- What qualifications do you have?
- What have others said that you are good at?
- What do you enjoy doing?
- What things have you done which have given you the most satisfaction?
- I would like to do the following for the Lord:...?
- Do you want to continue on in YWAM?
- Do you feel that at any time God has spoken to you about what you are to do with your life?
- In what ways may we help you regarding ministry opportunities within YWAM and/or information re other U of N courses?
- Are you interested in pursuing a U of N degree?
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