‘Synergy’ Christian Schools Student Leadership Breakfast

On Thursday of this week, I had the privilege of accompanying Camille Dewell and Sam Ellery, our two NCS secondary school captains, as we travelled to Cedars Christian College in Wollongong. Here we also met up with Mrs Meek, Head of Secondary, and with school captains and staff from three other Christian schools. By this time we were all very hungry as we were first gathering to share in a delightful breakfast before each student team presented their reflections on a year of leadership at their respective schools.

Mrs Meek and I were both extremely encouraged as we listened to the members of each leadership team outlining the many lessons that they had learned as a result of their leadership ‘journeys’ throughout this year. (It should also be noted that these young leaders still have a number of major responsibilities lying before them as they bring the school year to a fitting conclusion for each of their communities.)

We were encouraged for many reasons and I would like to share with you just some of the insightful comments about the topic of leadership, and especially leadership within the context of a Christian school community, which were shared during the presentations. Each group acknowledged that the leadership role brought with it many challenges and responsibilities. They were very conscious of the fact that they were ‘role-models’ for their peers and that this required them to act in a respectful manner on all occasions, not just when they thought that others might be looking.

The importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle balance was also high on their priority list and this was not necessarily an easy lesson to learn. There were the ever-present competing demands of being HSC students, family members and also belonging to other groups such as church and sporting teams. It would appear that, very quickly, all of our school captains discovered the vital importance of working together in teams. In this way, they were able to share the leadership responsibilities and accomplish tasks that they were unable to do by themselves.

Other vital qualities that were stressed included, not only the importance of developing public speaking skills, but, almost more importantly, cultivating the willingness and ability to listen carefully to what others within their school communities were saying about their needs and desires. This aspect of ‘listening to others’ was strongly related to another area that all teams stressed. This was the fact that in a Christian school, as leaders, they had primarily been called to serve their communities. They all stressed that Jesus had provided this perfect example of ‘servant leadership’ for them to aspire to.

Once again, an important part of the ‘Synergy’ program was that a young student leader had been invited along to share their insights about Christian leadership as it applies to the world beyond school. On this occasion, the guest speaker was Sarah Walker who had been a sports captain at Cedars Christian School in 2009. Sarah is now a qualified teacher but she has chosen to work full-time as a Salvation Army community worker. I would encourage you to read Matt 7: 13-20 (Message version) which was the challenging passage that Sarah referred to. From this, she drew her two key pieces of advice for our school captains on the topic of leadership. The first was that good leaders do not take ‘short cuts’; effective Christian leadership requires consistent prayer and knowledge of God’s word. Secondly, effective leaders must always choose ‘character over charisma’. Good character will always shine through whereas charisma can be a transitory quality.

Camille and Sam fittingly concluded their presentation by directing the audience to a Bible passage that had provided them with inspiration and reassurance throughout their leadership journeys. This passage states ‘Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men (and women) of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.’ 1 Cor 16: 13-14. Yes, the breakfast was delicious but the real highlight, especially for the staff from each school, was to hear these young leaders talk with such wisdom and humility about what they had learned throughout this year. We have much to look forward to as these young men and women move from our school communities at the conclusion of this year to make valuable contributions wherever God may choose to place them in the future.

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