Throughout my personal leadership development and the training I facilitate with my students, I have continuously turned to Henri Nouwen’s work In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership  (Nouwen, 1989). The author examines the work of Jesus Christ who led an entire social movement, beginning with the principles of becoming nothing. The author sets an example of leading with a heart of servanthood. Leadership as exemplified in Jesus Christ, was not about power or politics but was about coming to earth as a servant.  In my own work with students, as a supervisor and mentor I have learned that leading them in a vision is not about asserting my knowledge or power but about considering them more knowledgeable and with more ability than myself.  I am committed to a philosophy of leadership, which incorporates the idea that in order to lead one must first follow. Henri Nouwen depicts Jesus as a leader who knew how to listen to his followers while remaining connected to a larger community and vision. In the work of College Student Affairs, I hope to be leader who listens and stays intimately connected to the work, voice and vision of my students and university.


As a professional I believe I have an obligation to create a space for my students to engage in their spirituality. Likewise I have a moral obligation to respect the process through which each student is engaged.  A responsibility I was given as a graduate assistant in the Women’s Resource Center was to coordinate and plan the Women’s Night of Worship. The event took a great amount of planning and organization. I became energized and excited by the fact that I was providing a program that would serve the spiritual development of my female students.  The evening was more than just food, music and friends but it represented a desire to see students grow and engage in their spiritual life. The details of scripture and themes for the evening always went back to how could we help our women engage in a new and different way with worship. It also created space to leave behind homework and a social life.  According to Fowler (1984) Faith Development Theory posits stage four in spiritual identity development as an ability to distinguish your own self from the experience of others.  The evening was a spiritual practice that would encourage women long after the service to reflect on their individual process and their place with in the community.  Moreover there was something significant about female corporate worship. An evening planned by women for women produces a unique environment for the expression of female voice and according to Parks (2000) provides a sense of belonging, safety and security. As a professional I recognize the importance of relationship with community and the support and challenge it offers students in their spiritual development. 


 As student affair professionals, there are certain experiences and circumstances of our students’ lives that must remain confidential in respect of the student and staff relationship. There are boundaries that must be encouraged and created in counseling and helping relationships as well as maturing within interpersonal relationships (Egan, 2010). Realistically though, there are specific environments in the profession where we may involuntarily receive information pertaining to student conduct. For example, my office was located within the office of Associate Dean of Student Life, a place where highly confidential material was available. The office received financial and personal information about students. I had access to a number of files on the computer and served as witness to a number of meetings and encounters within the office.  As a result of my position and location of office I was entrusted with a great amount of information and at times needed to remain silent about certain events and/or students.  According to Kohlberg (1981), in my own moral development I was aware of my own values and their interactions with the standards of my environment. I learned to respect the contract and relationship I had with my supervisor and students. It was my moral obligation to protect their information and privacy. This examination of my own morals and values in the context of my environment will remain a priority in my professional encounters.



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