SMU calls men to spiritual leadership

The Student Missionary Union has noticed the lack of spiritual leadership by male students.

Luke Cheng and Luke Cheng

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Every year, Biola’s Student Missionary Union offers numerous opportunities for students to get involved in nurturing a Christ-centered community. The SMU department has a dedicated and enthusiastic staff, but recent leadership has reflected an unproportional amount of women in leadership.

Few men involved in SMU leadership

There were only 19 men out of a 102-person staff involved in this year’s Missions Conference, according to senior Kyle Donn, Missions Conference 2012 co-director. Sophomore Dan Marino, Missions Conference co-global awareness coordinator, mentioned that he was the only male coordinator out of 11 coordinators on staff.

Short-term mission team leaders, sophomore Jonathan Bang and junior Jason Lee, said that three men out of 10 applicants applied for the summer 2012 Japan trip and only one male out of 11 applicants applied for summer 2012 Indonesia trip during the first round of applications. Sophomore Stephen Croft, co-director of prayer and next year’s SMU president, said that there were initially no male applicants out of 23 applications when he co-led a trip to Belize last summer.

According to Biola’s enrollment statistics, the full-time undergraduate male-to-female student ratio for the 2011-2012 school year is 1,536 to 2,463. While these numbers indicate a larger female presence on campus, this ratio does not justify the disproportionate number of females in leadership positions. Marino and Donn hope that this will not be a consistent trend for the Biola community. Donn fears that these numbers are also a reflection of current leadership on campus, saying that a majority of student ministries on campus such as Revive Ministry, Evangelical and Mormon Interaction and California School Project are primarily led by women.

“It is important to address men because God explicitly addresses men in the Scriptures,” Donn said.

SMU grateful for women's leadership, encourages men to step up

Lee says the Bible is clear and specific about men and leadership.

The goal is not to limit female leadership, but to exhort men into stepping up, Croft said. Marino and Croft are glad that women are involved in needed areas, but the amount of female leaders, unproportional to the amount of male leaders, has also exposed where leadership is lacking.

“I am so proud of my sisters for stepping up and being leaders, but it makes me wonder where all the guys are,” Marino said.

Donn says that men should be initiators and they should not become apathetic because women are already doing the job. Men have a responsibility according to Scriptures to take action, Croft said.

“It is fine for women to take up leadership roles, but it is not fine for men to neglect leadership roles,” Marino said.

Donn said that it is undisputed that there are exceptional women in leadership, but he believes ministries would thrive if more men played a part.

“You will even hear women cry out on campus, ‘Why are there no men?’” he said. “You talk to most girls and they want to be led by men.”

According to Marino, the greatest need for male leadership on campus is in the humble places of volunteering and servitude.

“Whether it is custodial work, leading a Bible study, or being AS president, everyone has a role,” Bang said.

Marino and Croft hope that men on campus do not only seek positions that are paid or in the front lines.

“It should not matter what position you are in as long as you have a pursuit for God,” Croft said.

Croft continued to say that men should not focus on affirmation and prestige, being a leader does not always mean being in a leading position.

“It is great that men on campus aspire to be pastors and worship leaders, but the Bible also calls us to be faithful in the little things and serve in the quiet places. … In every circumstance, we decided to be a man and a leader,” Marino said.

Influence male leadership could have on campus

Since students at Biola are being poured into so much, the effect they could have on the community would be significant, Donn said. He believes the potential is astronomical.

“We need to show guys their potential, that they can be God’s champions if they are willing to step out,” Marino said.

If students actualized the knowledge gained from Bible classes and chapels, Donn believes that students would not only make an impact on the Biola community, but also beyond the walls of the university.

Bang, Croft, Donn, Lee and Marino hope to see Biola transform into a place where Bible studies and prayer groups become the norm in dormitories instead of video games and random activities.

“There is nothing inherently wrong with playing video games, but our priority should be focusing on our education and community, and ultimately, advancing the kingdom of God,” Marino said.

Croft desires to see a generation of men who lead abandonedly for God, doing radical things that the world does not understand. Marino agreed with Croft, adding that “it is the responsibility of men to set an example of godly character before women and the world.”

Bang, Croft, Donn, Lee and Marino acknowledge that they have their personal flaws, also not wanting to overlook the men who are stepping up on campus. Yet they hope that men on campus continue to exhort and encourage each other to pursue godly character, stepping up and getting involved on campus and in local churches.

Donn said in order for men to lead properly, they must find time to rest in the presence of God, which ultimately begins with prayer.

“The amount of prayer is a reflection of our dependence on God. If we want to lead God’s people we must pray,” he said.  

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SMU calls men to spiritual leadership