Inspiring Student Leadership

by Brianne Martin ’13

Students from across the United States came to Azusa Pacific University to participate in this year’s Student Leadership Conference led by Doug Fields, one of the nation’s leading youth pastors, authors, speakers, and the senior director of APU’s HomeWord Center for Youth and Family. The conference, held July 5–8, centered on the theme, “illumination” and encouraged students to live a life that brightens the world around them.

Fields taught the sessions which included other speakers such as Jim Burns, Ph.D., executive director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family and host of HomeWord’s radio broadcasts; Mark Munoz, UFC fighter and champion; and Neely McQueen, author of the book 99 Things Every Girl Should Know. In the opening session, Fields taught from Matthew 20:20–28, emphasizing Jesus’s words about servanthood and stressing the importance of leaders seeking God’s purpose for their lives. “My favorite moment during the conference was the opening session and seeing people from all over the country express their joy and enthusiasm at being there,” said Fields. “That attitude never let up during the three days.”

The conference featured workshops that covered topics such as being safe online, building real friendships, and sharing the gospel with others, as well as worship music performed by students. “The worship was my favorite part of the conference,” said Cassadi Boyd, a student from Sandals Church in Riverside. “It was great to worship in a group and all of us felt very connected to God.”

“Leadership is about serving others. We are never more like Jesus than when we serve.”

Throughout the week, students also participated in engaging group exercises. “The most memorable part of the conference was the Walk for Water,” said Boyd. In this exercise, each student carried five gallons of water around campus, experiencing what it is like for people who do not have immediate access to water. “It showed me how easy I have it compared to others and it was an eye-opening experience.”

The conference’s exercises and message centered on what it means to be a leader and follower of Jesus. “The number one thing I want students to take away from the conference is the knowledge that biblical leadership is about serving others,” said Fields. “We are never more like Jesus than when we serve.”

Madelynn Hiatt, another student who attended the conference, understood this message and has made a commitment to making a difference in her community. “I learned that serving others is something we do very little of,” said Hiatt. “However, it is also something that is easy to do. Just doing small things for people can brighten someone’s day and be a way of showing God’s love.”

For more information on the Student Leadership Conference and for updates on future Student Leadership Conferences, visit