Do you recall ever having a dream, idea, or calling as a child or teen that filled you with excitement, only to be shot down by someone telling you that you were too young, inexperienced, or naive for it to become a reality? Or perhaps you were told you needed to “wait your turn”?
Our culture would have us believe that world changers must look a certain way or be a certain age, however, the Bible shows us that young people don’t have to adapt to low expectations. Just look at the lives of Mary, Daniel, Samuel, David, and Timothy — young heroes of the faith who instead chose to be used by God and serve as an example to others, whether they realized it at the time or not.
A servant leader ultimately seeks the highest joy of those he or she serves
COVID-19 has shaken our world in ways we could have never imagined, and on top of that, our nation is wrestling with divisiveness and tension stemming from political and social issues. Although it’s easy to feel hopeless amidst such a negative climate, our young people have the opportunity to shake up the world for the better by demonstrating radical and sacrificial leadership. A servant leader ultimately seeks the highest joy of those he or she serves (Matthew 20:26-28).
The greatest leader of all was Jesus Christ, and He showed us how to lead. He displayed an others-centered leadership style to serve as the ultimate example for us. I can’t think of a better illustration of this than when He washes His disciples’ feet — feet that were likely not in the most desirable condition due to walking on dusty, dirty roads with sandals.
“When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” -John 13:12-16
The greatest leader of all was Jesus Christ, and He showed us how to lead.
The world’s opinion of leadership is so different and contrary to Jesus’ example, however. Being “a leader” means getting the gold star — earning recognition and status. Satan has a deceptive whisper that will tell young people that they don’t need humility, that self-love and self-care is more important than serving others, and that being bold or taking initiative is not required.
But as our students continue to grow in their faith by learning how Jesus led during His time here on earth, our prayer is that they will choose the road less traveled and stand up for righteousness in their homes, schools, and communities, even when it’s challenging or frightening. Nelson Mandela once said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."
He will equip us to accomplish what may seem unfathomable in our minds.
When God is on our side, and we’re doing what He has called us to do, He will equip us to accomplish what may seem unfathomable in our minds. Did you know that Moses had a speech impediment, yet God would have him deliver the Israelites out of the oppressive hand of Pharaoh? Despite his insecurities and abilities, God chose to work through him and was glorified through Moses’ weakness (Exodus 4:10-12; 2 Corinthians 12:9).
How does God want us to lead during these interesting, uncertain times? We not only look to Jesus’ example, but also turn to 1 Timothy 4:12 to serve as our guiding framework:
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
SPEECHProverbs 18:21 tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue. What we say to others in person or through technology matters to God and influences others, knowingly or unknowingly.
Is your speech gracious, seasoned with salt, and being used to edify others (Colossians 4:6)? Or is it unwholesome, seasoned with profanity, sarcasm, jokes that bring others down, lies, or gossip? James chapter 3 is devoted entirely to the topic of taming one’s tongue, and in verses 9-10, he’s not afraid to call out hypocrisy:
“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”
Is your speech gracious, seasoned with salt, and being used to edify others?
CONDUCTI think we’re all familiar with the phrase “walk the talk.” For Christians, walking the talk through our behavior is part of our testimony. Do our actions in the classroom, around our friends, outside of school, at work, and on social media reflect the faith that we claim to have?
Do our actions . . . reflect the faith that we claim to have?Leaders ought to be living lives that are above reproach, though, far too often, we hear of leaders engaging in inappropriate, unethical behavior. Christ followers are called to conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27) that does not cause others to stumble in their walk with the Lord.
LOVEIn our interactions with others, are we aiming to express the unconditional, selfless “agape” love that Jesus freely pours out on us? In John 13:35, Jesus says that “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Christian leadership is fundamentally about giving, not taking, which isn’t always easy or glamorous.Sometimes being a loving leader requires us to “roll up our sleeves” and get out of our comfort zones for the sake and betterment of others. Christian leadership is fundamentally about giving, not taking, which isn’t always easy or glamorous. However, it’s always worth it because we get to point people to the Savior of the World. What a blessing and honor!
FAITHWhat does it mean to have faith? Hebrews 11:1 defines it as “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” and goes on to mention the men and women in the Bible who showed great faith in God. I encourage you to read the chapter in full to get a better understanding of this concept and see how it is rooted in action.
Although trusting God and moving forward in faith can be challenging, mostly because of our lack of complete perspective and control, we must remember that “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). God may very well call you into the unknown as a leader, but know that others are looking into your life, and your response to His leading and voice is a testament to your faith in Him.
God may very well call you into the unknown as a leader.
PURITYWe live in an overly sexualized society with messages and images that students are being exposed to at far too young of an age. The world tells us that what we do with our bodies doesn’t matter — that we should just do what feels right in the moment and whatever makes us happy. But the Word tells us otherwise.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” -1 Corinthians 6:19-20Because sexuality has become so normalized, especially among today’s teens, committing to live in a manner that is pure and holy will inevitably turn heads toward the Gospel. I want you to know that you can choose to walk in purity at any point, no matter what your past looks like. Because we serve a God who forgives, redeems, and restores, we can lead from our scars that have been fully healed.
I want you to know that you can choose to walk in purity at any point, no matter what your past looks like.
I look forward to diving into each of these five leadership pillars throughout this school year with our students during chapels and small groups and encouraging them to always look up to Jesus Christ before they set out to lead. May our leadership efforts produce the fruits of peace and unity that ultimately point others to Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers to anyone who would receive it.
Steve Mayo serves as the Director of Discipleship at CCA. He also collaborates with the Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale's Six78 and HSM youth ministries, and assists with overseeing the church’s Vision 2023 Education Team. He and his wife Morgan have three children who attend CCA — Titus, Quincy, and Maxwell.