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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


The Most Important Factor When Leading Students

If you’re like me, you hear all kinds of theories about how to best lead and teach students today. There are countless books on the market with the latest suggestions on how to handle this different generation of kids, who grew up online, who now carry their phones around as though they were an appendage to their bodies and who seem to speak a different language than their parents and teachers do.

Some theorists suggest we need to toughen up. We need to become more strict, and put these lazy, disengaged, slackers in their place. Others suggest the opposite, saying these kids need some latitude and grace. They require adults to allow them some creativity as they bloom into the adults they’ll eventually become.

So, who is right?
Do our students need more rules or less rules? Do they need us to tighten up or loosen up? What do they need require most?

I believe the answer may surprise you. I’m convinced the most important factor is:
Consistency.  Simple, raw consistency.

In our day of tumultuous change, where the only thing that is constant is change, adults must model consistent values and behavior, whatever the rules are. I actually don’t think the issue in our homes is whether to be strict and have a curfew or not, it is to simply stick to your guns and be constant. Don’t waiver. Don’t fluctuate.

The ingredient that fosters insecurity among children (old or young) is inconsistency in their adult leaders. We all know peers who grew up with different standards in their homes. Some of our friends remember very strict parents; others reminisce about parents who allowed them lots of leeway. In either case, I am not sure it was the rules that were important, but the fact that they were enforced in a steady manner.

So, my advice to parents, coaches, faculty and youth workers?

Choose your standards, and be consistent.
It provides security. It furnishes a model to follow. It allows them a stable environment in which to grow. 

What do you think? How important is consistency? Leave a comment below.




  1. Matthew Gooch on December 1, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Tim, I agree completely.  Consistency is key.  Of those students that I have seen go off the rails, almost all of them were receiving inconsistent messages and enforcement of the rules.  
    The worst inconsistencies that I’ve seen are those between church and home.  As a Youth Minister, I have seen many youth who were faithful and devout participants in the youth ministry come unhinged mainly because the message at home wasn’t the same as the message at church.   This is especially true of students whose parents attended church.  
    As parents and teachers, every area of our life must be a consistent model for our kids, and we must be consistent and fair with the rules that we’ve set.

  2. @Mike_Puckett on December 1, 2011 at 9:05 am

    I can agree as well. I am an NC native recently transplant to OH to launch a college ministry partnered between a church and 2 campuses. Many of the students who were just graduating high school when I arrived had been through some serious church splits and bad leadershing while they were in youth. Since I’ve been here I’ve had a number of students ask me if I was looking for a bigger position or how long I planned on sticking around. As I have gotten to know them, I’ve seen that this inconsistency also happens in most of their families. Divorce is rampant, few of them get along and many are much worse. As I’ve spent time here with them, they have opened up more and more simply because I have been consistent with them. Hard to believe that consistency is so important.

    Thanks for the reminder. This came at a needed time for me.

  3. Coach Pulliam on December 1, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Evidence of consistency
    breeds feelings of stability. Feelings of stability provides immunity from
    oppressive thought. Immunity from oppressive thought allows increased mental
    capacity. Increased mental capacity creates a fertile mind.  As a result, educators become seed sowers as opposed
    to task masters

  4. Jerry DiPalma on April 5, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Tim: After many years as a collage professor and a practicing Engineer I am currently a substitute teacher at our local high school. I have read your book “Artificial Maturity” and have also read many of your comments on “mentoring”. I must say you are always “Right On”. I enjoy a great relationship with my students. It is based on mutual respect and a high degree of consistency. Thank you for sharing your insights with us.
    Keep up the good work !!!!

  5. unscramble letters words on March 12, 2019 at 4:27 am

    This is a technical term in the computer games which use for help and another system which are for all type of users who want to associate with the online game. So just open of your computer and look at how it will be comfortable for you.

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The Most Important Factor When Leading Students