Last week I had a great week away with a number of our older youth and young adults at SU Gowanbank. We had a week of fun, eating together, laughter, worship, prayer and leadership development teaching. We also played a number of games, baked and had an ‘explodingly’ good time (there is a story – find someone who was there and ask them about it). I am sure some people will wonder what the point of this week was – it wasn’t advertised as a leadership development week, so, why ‘leadership development teaching’ and not ‘Bible teaching’?
Over the past 8 years, alongside some others, I have been developing a leadership training programme for young Christian leaders; a programme that helps equip and prepare them for wherever they may lead in the future whether church or business, health or education, sport or in the home. Our focus hasn’t been on developing leadership skills and gifts, but instead on the development of our character. This may seem strange when most leadership development courses focus on presentation skills, risk management, and applying vision and strategy to improve efficiency and productivity.
Crisis of leadership?
It seems in recent years, that we have been experiencing a crisis of leadership, particularly political leadership, across the world. We have been presented with leaders who seem to suggest that all that matters is what they present in the public sphere and the outcomes they get. No matter whether business, politics or even many church leaders, integrity, honesty or trustworthiness (whatever you want to call it), has been missing.
Maybe this became more obvious when a high-level politician shared that following on from a sermon on integrity at a prayer breakfast, they had resigned hoping that a certain UK Prime Minister would too.
So what does it have to do with us, or even a bunch of young people hanging out in Ayrshire for the week? It is unlikely that any of us will find ourselves taking up residence in 10 Downing Street in the future, but what if there is a major lesson for us all?
What about us?
As a young child attending Sunday School, we often had verses of Scripture to memorise (obviously for prizes). One of the first that I remember learning came from the story of Samuel anointing David as the next king of Israel. Samuel arrives at the home of Jesse to find the next king of Israel and is presented with the oldest son who is strong and tall, surely this is what the people would want – someone who looked like a king.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t look at how handsome Eliab is or how tall he is, because I have not chosen him. God does not see the same way people see. People look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
(1 Samuel 16:7)
We may not all be called to be Prime Minister, to be a CEO of a multi-million-pound company or even to be a church leader, but if we take these words seriously, then I believe we need to take full life discipleship seriously. God isn’t focused on our productivity and efficiency, but instead about what is going on in our hearts. And if we start to prioritise as He does, then maybe we could start to see a greater influence from the topsy-turvy kingdom on all spheres of society.
Back to Gowanbank
Our week away really was a great week, a chance to laugh, to share together, to learn and grow and really be challenged. There are a few pieces of feedback from some of the young people below, but on Sunday, why not try to find some others and ask them about it.
- “My highlight of the weeks was being with people who make me laugh and that can create a safe environment to talk about both silly and intellectual topics. I felt encouraged by realising that I am not alone in the journey with my faith and there are others around me who can be there for me and help me with the struggles I face.”
- “I felt God saying to me that since I was obedient in getting baptised, my faith in Him would grow, and He really challenged me to engage with His word more often and even to keep trying silent prayer.”