Student leaders share experience, opinions about society

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February 16, 2018

Student leaders share experience, opinions about society

A society chaplain delivers a devotional during a Friday society meeting. Photo: BJU Marketing/ Derek Eckenroth

Societies are a fundamental part of life at BJU, and they exist to cultivate desirable qualities in students.

Matthew Weathers, student leadership and organization  coordinator, said his goal is to develop student leaders and society is one place where that happens.

“For me societies are simply a platform for building of relationships and student leadership development.” Weathers said.

Colt Schiefer, current men’s student body president and former president of his society, Epsilon Zeta Chi, for one year, said being president of his society helped develop the leadership skills he would later use in his role as men’s student body president.

“The biggest thing was communication,” Schiefer said. “It taught me how to communicate with a team.”

He said during his time as society president, he learned if he didn’t effectively communicate with the rest of the officer team, or his society members, things would fall apart.

Schiefer said his leadership skills were grown in another area, organization.

“Making sure you’ve got all the details planned out [is extremely important] in leadership,”

Schiefer said. “Both [communication and organization] I think are both naturally strengths of mine but being a leader in society really brought those out.”

Schiefer also said he learned how to lead a team effectively. He learned how to encourage his peers to go in a certain direction when he believed an action was required.

He encouraged students who may feel inexperienced to run for the minor officer positions.

“Nobody goes into this perfectly qualified,” Schiefer said. Don’t think that you’re inadequate.”

Lydia Zeller, current women’s ISC director, and former president of the Wildcats, is passionate about society and society leadership.

“It was honestly some of the best experiences of my life,” Zeller said. “I wouldn’t change any of it.”

Zeller said being a society leader has helped her manage her current position well.

“[Being a society leader] gave me a lot more responsibilities and pushed me a lot to learn how to manage my time,” Zeller said.

Zeller views society as people-focused and not program-oriented.

“Something that is crucial in society is the relationships that you build,” Zeller said. “You can’t get so focused on the events that you’re doing that you forget about people.”

“Something huge that I learned is that I needed to not focus so much on the things that I was planning, but the people that I was doing it for,” Zeller said.

“That

has helped me the most in being in the position that I’m in now because it’s all about building relationships.”

Zeller has used this people-focused philosophy she learned while in society leadership in her current ISC director position.

“I want to make sure I am representing the students accurately,” Zeller said.

“I want to convey what they are thinking to the people higher-up who can make a difference.”

Katie Albert, current president of the Kangas, the largest society on campus, said her leadership position helped grow her relationships with many of the women in her society because she has been able to get to know them personally.

“I have been able to connect with people differently because of [my position],” Albert said.

Albert said being a society leader has given her a platform by which she can create an environment for her society where deep relationships are fostered.

Both Schiefer and Zeller said students should take leadership opportunities whenever possible because developing leadership is important for the Christian.

“As Christians we are supposed to be a light to the world and part of that is doing everything we can to the best of our ability,” Schiefer said.

“And when we do that, leadership positions are going to come and we need to be able to utilize those leadership positions well,” Schiefer said.

“Leadership and other opportunities [are] a gift, and you need to be able to steward that gift well.”

Zeller said she believes everyone is able to lead.

“Christ when He was on earth led; He led [his disciples] by serving them,” Zeller said.

“Every person is put into a position of leadership whether they think it or not. [Part of] leadership is influence, and no matter what you’re doing you’re influencing somebody, even if you think you’re the little, most insignificant person around. There is always somebody watching you.”

Weathers said his hope for the future of society is full commitment.

“[I hope] that society leadership would embrace the mission of societies,” Weathers said.

Albert stressed the importance of society involvement outside the 11 a.m. Friday meeting.

“I think that Friday society is the very least important part of society,” Albert said.

“What it’s really about is the outside connections. [Society] is something that you use your entire week, throughout your entire experience.”