Graduating with More than Just a Degree

Servant Leadership at Sterling College

A little more than two thousand years ago, a college was founded by the shores of Galilee. Twelve original students studied for three years to obtain a degree in servant leadership, and they went on to pursue careers in different parts of the world and different walks of life. But everywhere they went, they took their college with them.
They applied the principles of servant leadership they had learned in those three short years for the rest of their lives. And they changed the world forever. 

More than 100 years ago, a college was founded in Sterling, Kansas, on the same principles that the Galilean college was founded on two millennia ago. A lot has changed in the world in 2,000 years. A lot has also changed in just those 118 years since Sterling College was founded. But the principle underlying the concept of servant leadership has never changed. Simply put, it is the principle that well-educated followers of Christ make outstanding leaders of men and women.  

The idea of leading by service has been rousing people to action for ages and is now being recognized as an exemplary way to motivate people in all walks of life—from corporations to small town churches, school classrooms to accounting firms. Sterling College has been working to instill in its students an integration of their faith and their life. This interweaving of Christian morality and chosen career path forms the foundation of servant leadership training at Sterling College.

Servant leadership training at Sterling College begins the freshman year in a class appropriately titled “Foundations of Servant Leadership.” Students learn more about how to practice servant leadership through skill modules written specifically to equip them with the skills needed to become effective servant leaders. Additionally, a service project requirement is built into each one of our 18 majors. This project intentionally integrates the concept of servanthood with a student’s academic discipline in order to develop and serve the community around them. Students quickly learn that service is not someone else’s career, but rather a central part of everyone’s successful vocation.  

At Sterling College learning isn’t all about books. Service projects, mission trips, and volunteer activities abound in every student’s curriculum and even seem to be distinguishing hallmarks of our prospective students. From yearly outreach trips to Korea to teach English; to missions trips to the Amazon, the gently rolling steppe of Ukraineor the back-country of Africa; to Habitat for Humanity work projects organized out of the world’s first Habitat for Humanity Fellowship Program, service is a huge part of how students at Sterling College learn.

It is no wonder Sterling College students graduate with a servant’s heart and a leader’s mind. They head out into the world with a solid degree, prepared for a career in which their talents will be stretched to their fullest capacity, and with an understanding of how to lead with compassion and by example.


This article was written by Coleman Crenshaw

Coleman Crenshaw, a 2003 graduate of Sterling College, is the Fine Arts Recruitment Coordinator for his alma mater. In addition to his talents as an actor and a writer, he enjoys competition in a non-intense way and is always up for a friendly game of Trivial Pursuit, sand volleyball, or ultimate Frisbee. Sterling College is a Christian, four-year, liberal arts college located in Sterling, Kansas.

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