By Kristine Whitnable

Leadership 201 Prerequisites: Serving 101


Jesus taught his disciples by example. One day, when he and his disciples were getting ready to relax after traipsing through the dusty streets of Jerusalem, Jesus took a basin of water and a towel, bent down and washed the feet of his disciples. So they would not miss the point, he told them, “Now that I, your lord and teacher have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:14-15 NIV)


Today, InterVarsity staff members are training Christian leaders on college and university campuses across the country. Like Jesus, the staff members often model what it means to be a servant leader, encouraging students to learn servant leadership. Howie Meloch, a staff member at Washington University in St Louis, tells of one experience where such learning took place.



“I met Jessica when she was a junior at Washington University in St Louis. One evening during the first week of school, I went to visit her in her residence hall. Jessica was surprised that an InterVarsity staff member and a leader would come to visit her.



“‘Howie, I never see any other advisors eating at the student cafeteria or visiting the suites of the students they work with.’ she said.



“We talked, and I explained that Jesus ministered to people by coming down from heaven and living among them. He visited earth in order to tell the people how much God loves them.



“‘If my main job is to influence you and care for you, how can I do that if I don’t know who you spend your time with, what you like to do or where you live’, I told her.”



“Jessica considered what I had said. I encouraged her to not only think about Jesus’ words, but to actually follow through with an action. Like Jesus did for his disciples, I carefully explained to Jessica what I expected her to do. ‘I am not doing this so that you will visit me, but so that that you will visit others.’”



Later that semester, as praises to the Lord were being shared in the chapter meeting, Olivia, a freshman at Washington University, said, “I praise God for Jessica, because last night she came and visited me. I was amazed that she would just come by my room. It was such a blessing because I was having a really hard evening and she encouraged me.”



Christian leadership means being a servant to those we are leading. InterVarsity staff members show students how to be servant leaders in very practical ways. The student leaders then model these servant ways to others. What Jesus taught his disciples is being reproduced in InterVarsity students today.