Over the years, I have read and heard many different definitions of what is required to be a successful leader. Some have claimed leadership is comprised of those who are willing to take steps where others will not go. Others proclaim it is seen in those who are able to get a large following behind them. The list could continue with more and more supposed traits of leadership. See, it’s essential to believe that just because an individual, perceived to be wise, has made a statement about a particular subject, that it may not be true or factual. One of tried and true definitions I’ve heard of leadership has come from my good friend and mentor, Todd Appelbaum, who stated “Leadership is lonely.”
After a very refreshing weekend spent at Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) Fall Retreat, I was very encouraged to see so many young individuals who are willing to take a step into leadership roles and develop their faith, minds, and athleticism into something that is quite substantial. Within many of these young people, whom many callously call “kids”, was a thirst for excellence and a passion for faith that is not flimsy or common; they wanted substance within their lives and walk with God.
The real meat and potatoes behind this writing is the idea of modern leadership. What is it? Who are these leaders that will step up? I was personally challenged, realizing that leaders are best raised by having a proper example for them to follow. The mother may give birth to a small child who will grow into a giant of a man, but there must be a period of time where this giant is nurtured, developed, and shown the right ways to live their life. I do my best to provide positive leadership and mentoring for those who will be the leaders of their peers. It saddens me to think of the moments where I’ve failed in this aspect. However, we can only look ahead.
What really grinds my gears is when others attempt to motivate and stir up the youth by telling them what paths to avoid, through personal experience. Allow me to explain. For every 100 people I’ve met who preach abstinence, strong faith, or spiritual discipline, only 1 of these people will have actually spoken from the perspective of having lived a life consistent with their words. Too often, we hear of what not to do from those who have already done it. The fat man sits back in his recliner after a hearty meal, advising you to eat healthier than he did.
Who will be the leaders who will be able to confidently stand before hundreds of young people and encourage them to join them on their journey of staying pure, living righteously, and putting a bullet between the eyes of sin?
It’s much easier to bring people to your favorite vacation spot when you have actually been there, rather than simply imagined it from the picture you saw on a postcard in a dirty gas station.
My advice and urging to the youth:
Take the initiative now to live a life that you will be able to share with others who desperately need encouragement and true leadership. Be the example you want to set for others who will follow in your footsteps. I can assure you there will be many who look up to you for advice, encouragement, love, and prayer.
You may be a mentor to those who need a father figure, a friend, or maybe just one person who is interested in showing the love of Christ, without any other motivation or intent. When others look up to you, will they be able to have a better understanding of what it means for God to love them? When others see you, will they be able to see and follow you as somebody who is truly living a life of faith, righteousness, and purity?
Live your life in such a way that you count the cost of everything you do. By this, I mean to consider the consequences of your actions; both bad and good. Never assume that your life will never impact others.
Love God. Love others.