Since returning to the United States after six years of co-leading a leadership home of young adults in a developing country, I can see that an epidemic of entitlement is seeking to engulf a generation of young people leaving future leadership hanging in the web of self-focused and indulged people.
Two major destructive and defeating characteristics that I witness are PRIDE and APATHY. Guard against these negative attributes and start at as young of an age as possible by cultivating the virtues of HUMILITY and COMPASSION. HUMILITY will encompass a deep love for others. And PASSION or COMPASSION has to be present to create the energy to serve and to lead.
A school can be a huge part of cultivating the virtues of humility and compassion by providing opportunites to serve in the community. Students then learn leadership skills by serving others.
Throughout the Tehachapi high school experience, it’s common for student leadership groups to fundraise in order to host that which benefits or focuses on them, such as prom, dances or other social events. While there is nothing at all wrong with that, I am weary that we communicate a message to work and contribute when there is only personal gain. I am grateful for the system that my children’s school has developed. There is a “house” system that divides students into “houses” similar to Harry Potter. Together they focus on cultivating community and mission service, stirring through a point reward competition a desire towards philanthropic outreach. The goal is to instill selflessness and leadership through serving others. Parents then have the opportunity and blessing of partnering with their students and the school as chaperones which bleeds into loving attributes of relationship as a family.
I hear more mature students, who have captured a heart of humility, say that at this point, they do not like the competition of getting points for their actions of love and offering of service, which further confirms the effectiveness of this system. I see the attributes of leadership within these older students as I have participated in some of the service projects. In the last few months, our school has had the honor of seeing our students develop leadership through serving in areas such as these:
- Bell Ringing for the Salvation Army: Students gathered as houses and classes to ring bells at locations in our community for the Salvation Army's annual fundraiser.
- Canned food drive: One of the houses led a food drive to benefit our local Salvation Army.
- Serving at the Salvation Army: The students served the "Fresh Rescue" participants at our local Salvation Army by handing out produce and baked goods as well as serving snacks and visiting with senior citizens.
- Operation Christmas Child: Older students spent a day serving at the Orange County Operation Christmas Child Processing Center.
I had two high school seniors approach me this week with a desire to accompany me to Haiti for missions in May. I believe this desire stems in part from families and the school partnering in unified efforts to point a younger generation to reach beyond themselves, to see the world around them and become leaders through love and servanthood.