Course Description: “This course deepens students’ capacity for leadership based on wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. In addition to concluding the leadership minor by linking leadership practice to leadership theory, students dialogue about leadership issues such as gender, community, temptation, finding one’s voice, mission, and the whole-person model. A well-written synthesis paper and a high-quality portfolio presentation are crafted to integrate students’ learnings about leadership and to provide a post-graduation plan for life-long leadership development. Current and active involvement in a leadership position is required for students in this class.”
How this Course Impacted my Leadership & Core Values:
It is hard to definitively say what has influenced me the most from this course: everything we covered interconnected in ways that almost make it impossible for me to separate one thing from another. If I think hard enough about it, the first two books we read, The World is Not Ours to Save and The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor, shaped and impacted my thinking and outlook in a variety of ways.
Fundamentally, human beings want to be found meaningful, lovable, worthwhile, and worthy of admiration, praise, and respect. So often, the narrative of society is to shun and dehumanize those with whom we disagree or who are different from us socioeconomically, politically, spiritually, and emotionally. It can be incredibly easy to settle into the “us vs. them” mindset that writes others off as our enemy or insignificant (Cohen & Sherman, 2014). We justify our reasonings and rationalities, sometimes going to the extremes of personally attacking our so-called enemies.
“…God is not finally on any of our sides, no matter how righteous the cause, because our enmity to him makes all of us simultaneously rebellious Israelites and biting snakes (Wigg-Stevenson, 2012, loc. 841)”.
Similarly, we can see ourselves as the heroes and protagonists of our stories, negating the validity of others’ experiences and seeing them as the victims we must rescue and save (Levitt, 2014). Each person is uniquely and lovingly made to be who they are. We cannot turn away from others simply because they are different from us – we must celebrate those differences and use these as tools to build new relationships, understandings, and ways of thinking and seeing the world around us (Levitt, 2014). This means we go out of our comfort zones and bubbles to embrace and have communion with everyone (Labberton, 2010, p. 72-75). If we are Christ-followers, we cannot push past others or pretend we did not see them only because their presence confronts painful truths within us. Healing, redemption, and love are meant to be given and shared by all of humanity (Keller, 2012, p. 7-11).
Within the course, we developed an idea of what the world’s biggest problem is. True to form, I believe that it is our lack of mindfulness, grace, humility, and compassion in our relationships, ethics, outlooks, and behaviors. Pain and conflict are unavoidable within our lives; as much as we may not enjoy them, they are simply and irrevocably present. This is evident everywhere we look: politics, broken relationships, global wars, economic disparity, the list goes on. One of the simplest things we can do to combat the violence and negativity is to just love those around us, believe that everyone has worth, value, potential and a voice. We must remind ourselves that we see dimly through a lens and do not have the whole world figured out. We are not better than anyone else, and no one can tell us that they are better or superior to us, either. We are equals, partners, collaborators, and are called toward creating love, peace, light, and hope in a dark, broken world. We are to serve, not to condemn or save the world and all within it: we are finite and often, blind beings (Labberton, 2010). Instead, the reconciliation the world needs is found in practicing compassion, love, kindness, mercy, level-headedness and patience, and humility in all our beliefs, interactions, relationships, and actions.
What I am Passionate & Driven By:
As I have grown and developed over the 15 weeks of my semester in this class, what emerged as a passion for me was this idea that we are called to serve, love, and bring healing to the world in new and radical ways that mirror the work of Christ. I know that within my own life, and I am sure that many of us can agree, we are taught to do and focus on what makes us happy or feels good, without concern for the implications of what we do and how it may affect those around us. I am driven by the idea that at the most basic and fundamental level, every member of the human race – no matter who they are or what they believe, deserves to be treated with love and kindness, something we may not see in social or mass media. We are also not called to be self-righteous, haughty or indignant toward others because they are different in some way. Our differences make us unique, human, and beautiful. In every area of my life, I want to embrace this idea and reaffirm for others the meaning, beauty, and joy we can find in our painful experiences and suffering, using these are resources for growth and learning.
Cohen, G. L., & Sherman, D. K. (2014). The psychology of change: Self-affirmation and social psychological intervention. Annual review of psychology, 65, 333-371.
Keller, T. (2012). Generous justice: How God’s grace makes us just. Riverhead Books.
Labberton, M. (2010). The dangerous act of loving your neighbor: Seeing others through the eyes of Jesus. InterVarsity Press.
Levitt, J. M. (2014). World peace, positive peace, and how do we get there? A review of the following: Reflections on peace education, nonviolence, and social change, US + them: Tapping the positive power of difference, and Positive relationships: Evidence-based practice across the world. Peace And Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 20(1), 100-104. Doi:10.1037/pac0000011.Wigg-Stevenson, T. (2012). The world is not ours to save: Finding the freedom to do good. InterVarsity Press.
Wigg-Stevenson, T. (2012). The world is not ours to save: Finding the freedom to do good. InterVarsity Press.