As the Spring Service Projects prepare to load up and head out, a few people have raised questions about the lack of male student leaders. Assistant editor Melissa Tagg wrote that this visible form leadership is only one type—“the upperclassmen in the dorms who make life hilariously fun for all their neighbors, the students who aren’t afraid to ask in-depth questions in class, work-study students who serve around campus” are all in positions of leadership where men have and do serve.
But what about those Spring Service Projects? Is the lack of male leaders a concern?
The Amsterdam SSP team led by Brian Young and Tessa Rosier is one example of a group with male leadership, though the male factor has little import with the team. Kim Case, one of the advisors, never even thought of it in terms of male/female leaders. “I don’t think it’s tied to being a male or female…it is working together as a team.” The Amsterdam team works together using each leader’s gifts for the whole. “It’s more of a team effort—how our gifts benefit each other.”
Wendy Seekamp, lone student leader on the Neon, Ky. SSP, augments the importance that everyone has different gifts mentioning she is excited that some males are going as the group will be doing mainly construction work. On the lack of male SSP leaders, Seekamp said, “Overall, it seems like it is easier for females to step up to leadership.”
One major consensus is that a balance of men and women is important in a leadership team. “There are some situations that I would not feel comfortable helping a female,” Young said. “That’s when I’m glad that Tessa is there.” Chaplain VanOort said he believes “there are great leaders on campus and we want to encourage more.” Seekamp is afraid that if women are the only leaders, the men will not see it as an important duty. “I would encourage males to leadership roles as a way to act out their faith.”
Yet why do men not step up to be leaders? Young had no answers but suggested that leadership is about answering a call. “Maybe God has led more girls to lead.”
Leadership is about leaving a comfort zone, about venturing into the unknown. It requires faith and organizational skills, a combination that may scare the proverbial pants off would-be male leaders who are not comfortable with these responsibilities. To get over this bump, Young hints that males should simply “accept the challenge.” Or “Ask,” as VanOort suggested, “see their gifts, call them forth and encourage them.”