March 7th 2018
“Alright everyone,” asked Tyann, one of our 12th graders, “who wants to continue down the trail, and who wants to turn around now?” We had hiked a couple hours that morning on pretty flat ground around Lake Nockamixon, situated in a small state park in eastern Pennsylvania. We had the option of continuing another couple miles down the trail or turning around to head back to our cabins. Tyann was our “leader of the day,” a role each student took on for a portion of the trip, including responsibilities of monitoring wellbeing of the group, keeping the group on schedule and on task, and making informed decisions based on the best interest of the group. Tyann put the decision to a vote- and found that one third of the group wanted to return, while about two thirds wanted to continue on. She was part of the group that wanted to return to camp. I was curious to see what would happen.
The day prior, we spent time looking at four different leadership styles- directing, selling, consulting and engaging. Students and volunteers took a self-evaluation to see which leadership style aligned most with their personality. Directing leadership is mostly directive, Selling leadership looks to explain the reasoning behind a decision, Consulting takes others’ opinions into account before making a final call, and Engaging leaves the choice completely in the hands of the group. We had spent the prior evening talking about the pros and cons of each leadership style, and when was appropriate to use each of them.
As Tyann consulted the group on our hiking route, she decided that because of the majority wanting to continue on, that we would keep going, but we were able to come up with a compromising plan which brought us to a beautiful lakeside lunch spot that fell in between our two options. Tyann put into action what she learned about herself the day before, laying aside her personal preferences to put the group first. She acted with confidence and thoughtfulness, making the experience the best one possible for everyone involved.
Psalm 139:13-14 says, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.…” Leadership takes on many forms. Each of our students were created uniquely by our loving and personal God. Anytime they can live out that uniqueness and discover the way their leadership can be a gifting to the group is a chance to reflect on the way God designed them to be. My hope is that they continue to flourish as leaders- whichever trail they decide to take.