There is research indicating that acts of heroism could have genetic foundations and that we can cultivate our propensity to “be a hero”. Through intentional acts of selflessness and generosity, even if small and seemingly insignificant, we can posture ourselves for a moment when heroism might be displayed. There is a hero/heroine in all of us.
I certainly experienced that a few weeks ago, for our first leadership cohort called LeadUp. Gathered with seven high school students and a handful of college mentors, together we identified some systemic problem areas in our communities and developed plans of how to help. Some of these students already contained a vision of their life’s work! I was excited, humbled, and challenged throughout the weekend.
Here are some observations:
- Vision: These students understood that we all started with the divine image of God placed upon us. This is our most basic DNA as humans. God created us in his image and it was good. We all had value and all deeply loved. Our choice that led to the greatest of sin was opposite of what makes us heroes. We choose selfishness over selflessness. But, living in God’s grace helps us overcome that brokenness created by the first sin and gives us a vision of how we help others reclaim their divine image. It is how healing and community form. These students shared many visions: a vision to end homelessness in their community, to help at-risk kids develop a passion for their education or finding a skill set (a set up for meaningful workforce development), to help kids who have been sexually abused and more. I was inspired by these young visionaries!
- Selflessness: It appears that at the heart of every hero or heroic act is selflessness. Indeed, Jesus says that greatness is found in serving others. Heroes sacrifice and seem even willing and prepared to die. Take your average firefighter-our everyday, modern heroes. These youth all displayed a type of selflessness not normally attributed to them. Culturally, we see them as pre-occupied, self-centered, whiny, and everything in between. Heroes? Not so much. But these students embraced the heart of servant-hood and serving others. It was noticeable in their conversations, how they quickly got to know one another, and how much they wanted to support each other. It was evident in how they discussed the problem areas and why and how they each wanted to help.
- Perseverance: People dedicate their life’s work to the types of plans and visions these students developed. Some already knew the educational route they would have to take to live into these dreams. And, the perseverance to stay the course over the weekend! We worked them hard and it was all planning and preparation! I was really amazed they hung with us. Again, they radically dispelled the popular myths about youth culture.
Lead Up puts our focus on Jesus. Leadership is about service, sacrifice, and a core value of true humility. I am excited this group of youth is ready to embrace that mantle of leadership and use it to serve others and mine the divine image of God out of each person. The only way we solve the social ills of our community, nation, and world is to gain a Godly vision of restoration, roll up our sleeves, and go to work for the good of others. Lead Up!