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Creating a Vibrant Youth Program: Helpful Resources

Educators are inquisitive collectors of resources, data, and of course, tales from the classroom. They are, by and large, what the CliftonStrengths© describes as Input driven, or Learner driven, in their comings and goings. We like to learn, most of us love to in fact, and we want to pass the information and resources we glean on to others so they can also succeed and thrive.

More often than naught, as teachers and other leaders within our schools create and run programs, they often seek participants from the “top-down.” While there is a time and place where that may be good and appropriate, the current decline of youth-initiated participation in our schools and churches may indicate the need to reevaluate how we set up some of these programs. In that line of thought, I wanted to present a review of three resources I found helpful in the creation and running of youth-led programs.

Lead Like Jesus: One resource that I found valuable in the development of youth-led programming was the book Lead Like Jesus Revisited: Lessons From the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time by authors Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges. The book is quick and easy to read with plenty of charts, diagrams, and frequent reflection questions for the reader to engage with. It is divided into seven parts:

  • A biblical perspective on leadership. The six chapters in this first part of the book evaluate what leadership looks like — namely servant leadership —  and outline the four domains of leading like Jesus (heart, head, hands, and habits).
  • The heart of a great leader. The five chapters in this section paint a picture of what is at the heart of leadership, what leadership looks like when the heart is not in line with the actions, and how to turn the heart around in order to re-center leadership on the foundation of Christ.
  • The being habits. The five chapters of this section describe the various action-based habits that help make leaders effective (accepting and abiding in God’s love, intentional solitude, prayer, knowing and applying scriptures, and maintaining supportive relationships).
  • The head of a great leader. The four chapters of this unit outline the necessity of “vision” for a leader and for an organization. It also gives various checkpoints to see if the leader’s vision is in line with his/her beliefs.
  • The hands of a great leader. The four chapters in this latter half of the book sketch out a descriptive analogy of Christ’s leadership.
  • The doing habits. The six chapters in this second-largest unit in the book set out the habits of character that are essential for any leader seeking to build a program that will thrive, filled with team members that are on fire for God.
  • Next steps to leading like Jesus. This final section of two chapters, including both a resource list and self-checklist, primarily function as an effective and practical “pep” talk for the reader.

The companion study guide to Lead Like Jesus found at the back of the book also makes for a worthy resource. Each section coincides with the introductory information about Christ’s leadership qualities as well as the need to be thusly transformed.

The source material is biblical and offers many self-reflection questions, checklists, fill-in-the-blank “confessionals,” self-rating scales, and prayer prompts. I have found that the time spent doing the individual work was threefold rewarded with personal conviction and change, both in the team members as well as myself, the mentor coach to the program.

Messages to Young People: Despite the differing views regarding Ellen White’s writings, my opinion is that she is still a relevant and vital author to study in the 21st century. After reading her story and learning more about her character, many of my students have declared her a “rebel with a divine cause.” Over time, they have grown to highly value her and her writings.

As an educator, I believe that sharing knowledge with one another is imperative, which is why I pass along these resources in confidence. My hope is that they will serve as encouragement to you as you grow in your personal and professional walk with God.

What resources have you found useful guides in your educational journey?

Megan M. Elmendorf Hopson

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One comment

  • | 4 weeks ago

    Ciertamente, los maestros buscan, crean y comparten recursos. Gustan de ayudar a los demás a crecer. Me identifiqué.

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