This past weekend was an exciting one in my life. I have the privilege of helping to provide oversight for a student leadership conference for students from Ohio and 3 surrounding states. 3SLI is a multi-year training program comprised of three levels, each with a separate leadership focus. Students who complete all three years have the option to receive scholarship money from some of the most well-known Christian Universities in the nation. In the close to 20 year history of this event, 3SLI has helped to provide leadership training to countless students and has played a part in shaping the mind and character of countless Kingdom builders.
In addition to my involvement on the leadership planning team, the event also happens to be hosted at my church so I spent much of the weekend wearing two hats, planning team member and host. Thankfully I was surrounded by a fantastic group of other planning team members and volunteers from my church who all came together to make the weekend a huge success.
I find it both encouraging and challenging to be in a leadership setting. Watching students come to a greater understanding of God's desire for their leadership lives is encouraging. To know that the next generation of Kingdom leaders have been taught what Biblical leadership looks like leaves me feeling hopeful for the future of God's church, my local church and the 3SLI event itself. Surrounding myself with sharp leaders motivates me to step up my game. I can be guilty of resting on my laurels but when I'm placed in the mix of strong leaders who expect strong leadership, I can't help but desire to rise to the occasion, I find it challenging.
I'm reminded of Proverbs 27:17, "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." Watching students spur one another on towards avid note-taking, participatory worship and an openness to what God was leading them towards is the real life manifestation of this verse. My desire to be a stronger leader for those other leaders gathered around me is no different. The reality is that we often adapt to our surroundings. If someone has high expectations, we generally rise to meet them. If everyone else is participating, we tend to participate. If everyone is griping and complaining we tend to join them.
For better or for worse, this comes with momentum. We either find ourselves soaring through the clouds with our brothers in arms ready to take on the world or commiserating with the other miserable wretches we've surrounded ourselves with. It's why we leave church feeling like a million spiritual bucks and why we feel spiritually broke at the end of a long and taxing week. We become the product of our environment.
I'm asking myself easy questions like:
Let's be courageous enough to ask these questions, honest enough to answer them truthfully and disciplined enough to make the needed changes. We were created to sharpen one another as Christ followers. Be sharp. Stay sharp. Be encouraged and keep moving forward. -Andy