Courage and Confidence

By Mark Hopper

     Recently, we learned that one of our grandchildren was elected “president” of her classroom.  She is in the fourth grade.  This was quite an honor to be selected by her young peers. Apparently, each classroom was asked to elect one person to represent their class.  She was selected.

     First, the teacher asked who would like to be president of their classroom.  Almost every student said they would.  Then the teacher instructed each student to write down the name of one person – but they could not vote for themselves.  When the votes were counted, our granddaughter was voted to be the president of her classroom.

     I’m sure that this was a surprise to her.  I suspect it was also a confidence booster, too.  It is both affirming and encouraging to be selected by your peers to serve as their leader and representative.

     Many years ago when my wife and I were in  high school we received a similar honor.  My wife was voted freshman class secretary and I was voted freshman class president at Scottsdale High School.  In our senior year, she would be elected to be the Student Body Secretary and I was elected Student Body President of Saguaro High School.  

     Between those two milestones I attended a leadership workshop with other high school students at Arizona State University.  During this one week leadership training program, we were organized into 6-8 groups with about 15-20 students in each group.  We had to work together as a team and fulfill specific tasks assigned to each group during the week.

     Throughout the week we learned valuable lessons on leadership.  Guest speakers taught us how to lead others and how to work together to accomplish our goals.  Most of the students were seniors and were already elected leaders in student government in their own high schools.  However, I was younger than most of the others.  I would be starting my Junior year at a brand new high school.  We didn’t even have a student government yet.

     That is why I was surprised when my team elected me to be the president of our group.  I don’t remember if our group won first place at the end of the week, but I do know that it literally changed my life.  When I was selected to be the president of our team by other, older student leaders, it gave me new confidence and courage that I could lead others.

     I think most of us struggle with self-confidence.  We wonder if we are really qualified and capable to lead others.  Will other people really follow and support you as a leader?  Do other people at work, school, or sports follow your lead?

     In my opinion, leadership requires courage and confidence.  A wise leader is not a dictator.  An effective leader is a servant and a shepherd.  A good leader provides vision and direction and invites others to join in the journey.  He listens to the contributions of others and embraces their ideas and desires, too.

     Jesus emphasized that the most effective leaders are servant leaders.  Jesus said that, He did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life for others (Mark 10:45).  The Apostle Paul said leaders need to put the needs of others ahead of their own needs and desires (Philippians 2:3-5).  

     That one-week workshop at ASU strengthened and deepened my confidence that I could lead others.  It changed my life.  I wonder if my granddaughter will feel the same way as she leads her fourth grade class this year?

This article was written by Pastor Mark Hopper of Efree Church of Diamond Bar. Sunday Services are held at 9:00 am & 10:45 am at 3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd. You can contact the church at 909.594.7604 or visit them online at Efreedb.org

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