WHAT MAKES A TEEN A LEADER? Maria #211 DO 2897 9/93
1. NOW THAT WE'RE GOING to be having more YAs on Home Teamworks & within our leadership structure & in key ministries, we may need to reevaluate how we determine who are the potential leaders within the ranks of our teens & YAs. What qualities best indicate leadership potential?
2. I would venture to say that there is a fairly widespread practice in the Family of assuming that the strong personalities or the charismatic type of people are the best leaders. The people who are the most outspoken, even the ones who cause the most trouble, seem to be regarded as the leaders or those who have the most leadership potential. But judgement based on that criterion may result in your neglecting or not recognising the leadership potential in people who are not so outspoken or charismatic, but who may have other less obvious qualities that are very valuable & even more important when it comes to being a leader or a bellwether in the Lord's Work.
3. Sometimes I think people have misunderstood what Dad said in "Good Shepherds" about how when he was a teacher, the most outstanding boys in his class were the worst, & the leaders were the ones who got in the most trouble & did the most things wrong. Dad says, "They were the guys that caused the most disturbance & led the class astray most of the time, because they had the most drive, the most leadership ability." (DB7, ML#1002:16) Within the context of this Letter, Dad is using this particular illustration to make the point that in order to be a leader in the Family, & specifically a public leader such as a Visiting Servant, you need to have drive, initiative, push, fight & fire, rather than being, as Dad put it, the blah, do-nothing, no-personality, mousey type of person.
4. But I think our Family adults & teens need to be careful to not take this illustration of Dad's out of context when they're trying to determine the leadership potential of our young people. They shouldn't automatically think that the worst teens, the troublemakers, are the best leaders. I've heard of Family adults saying, "That kid is a real leader," when in actuality he turned out to be not a good leader & role model, but a rotten apple! Many times when that has happened, the teens in question had a strong personality & sometimes even lots of natural talent & gifts, but they lacked the other more important qualities, such as loyalty, honesty, a hunger for the Word, a love for the Lord, respect for leadership, a content spirit & an unfailing desire to serve the Lord in the Family, all of which are essential for leadership.
5. I think an example of how easy it is for people to assume that the biggest troublemakers are the best leaders was illustrated in a comment someone made back at the time of the birth of the PER. Around the first of this year we were receiving reports of different problems that were beginning to surface in the Budapest Training Centre (BTC). What happened was that after a series of moves, a small group of teens & YAs with serious ongoing problems ended up living together at the BTC. These particular teens & YAs turned out to be real rotten apples, who eventually left the Family, but not without first causing considerable damage & infecting & weakening many others. Thank the Lord, there is a Romans 8:28 to this situation, & that is that the changes that were implemented through the PER were partly the result of all the information that came in at that time about the problems the young people were facing.
6. When those reports were coming in & some changes were taking place as a result, someone said, "Well, leave it to J. (one of the problem YAs who later backslid) to bring about this revolution. He's a real leader!" I got a check about that comment, because I knew from reports that J. had had serious ongoing problems for quite a long time. He wasn't what I would consider the type of young person that is a model leader. And obviously he didn't cause the PER or bring about any kind of major revolution. The Lord simply used the reports about his and the other backslidden teens & YAs' problems to cause us to shine a spotlight on that area; and as a result, all kinds of problems started being reported that the Lord wanted to bring to our attention. But it certainly wasn't some great leadership qualities on J.'s part that caused the PER!
7. When praying about why someone would look at J. as "a real leader," it made me think of other incidents that I've heard about where adults & teens misjudged problem teens, thinking they were leaders. These particular teens had many of the same qualities that it seems J. has.--They were showy, smart, deceitful, good looking, smooth talkers, etc. They were often the type that could command the attention & admiration of their peers. They knew how to answer & how to "look good," but all the while they were murmuring, rebelling, & sowing doubt & division behind the adults' backs.
8. One example of this type of teen was James Paul. He was one of the rotten apples that got sent away from the HCS, the one that was polluting a lot of the other teens when he was there. Before he was exposed, I heard that he had the adults practically wrapped around his little finger. He was so talented, smart, outspoken, good-looking, & charismatic that he almost hypnotised people, even the adults. And unfortunately, due to his many outstanding qualities, James Paul was looked upon as a real "potential leader." The typical comment that was apparently made in reference to him was, "He's got real potential. He's a bad boy, a real problem case, but he's a real leader." But in actuality, he lacked the very most important qualities for Godly leadership. And while it was true that in a sense he was a leader, the problem was that he was leading others astray.
9. So I wonder if our people in the Family are misapplying what Dad said about the worst guys being the leaders--or if not misapplying Dad's comments, then at least applying them a little too generously. Maybe some of these "bad kids" do have definite leadership potential in that they're not afraid to make mistakes, they have drive, they have guts, they want to stand up & be counted, they don't fear man, & they aren't afraid to voice their opinions & their questions. Granted, maybe their charismatic personalities do give them an "edge" in that they can rally the troops of their peers, & people look to them & want to be like them. (And it is true that some problem case teens have been reformed & have become good leaders.)
10. But if they lack the most important qualities, which are often not very obvious or easy to see, such as prayerfulness, a hunger & love for the Word, honesty & openness with their Shepherds, a willingness to receive correction, loyalty, a love for the Family, & a dedication to & determination to live our Biblical standard & ideals, then their other more showy characteristics will not be enough to make them good leaders, nor are they the type of young people that we should be promoting & training as those who have the most leadership potential.
11. This may be a case where the adults are intimidated by the young people. The adults could be a little duped by those teens who are the most outspoken, good-looking, popular, big-personality types, to the point that they don't want to "squelch" them. In fact, they even think those teens are the best leaders, & consequently they let them have a lot of influence & control over their peers, sometimes to the detriment of the standard & to the point of allowing them to corrupt the other teens. The teens & YAs might also be somewhat intimidated or overly influenced by their outwardly "strong" peers, & therefore they compromise their convictions & get off the track by following the wrong samples & setting up the wrong people as their role models or bellwethers. That's a shame. It seems this is partly what happened in Europe, where a few teens had such a tremendously big negative impact on so many others.
12. Many of our top leaders are known "sinner" types--due to the fact that they've been willing to publicly admit their mistakes & share the lessons they've learned as a result. Often such testimonies or confessions of our leaders are published for the whole Family, so that as many people as possible can benefit from their lessons. Some people might look at our top leaders & the mistakes they've made or the problems they've had & the lessons they've learned as a result & take that as a confirmation that indeed the "worst" people or the "bad" people or the "problem" people are the best leaders.
13. But I think it's important for people who think that way to realise that the problems or lessons of these dear leaders are of a very different nature than the ongoing weaknesses some of these problem-case teens are manifesting. The lessons our top leaders have needed to learn are more along the lines of progressing in or overcoming their NWOs, human weaknesses, lack of training, wrong modus operandi, etc. They have not lacked loyalty to us or to the Family or the Lord, nor have they lied, covered up their mistakes, or sown discord. They have not constantly or for long periods of time questioned or doubted the Word, or desired the System, or been unhappy in the Family. People should keep that differentiation in mind when they think the naughty teens can be the best leaders. They should ask themselves in what way are those teens being naughty?
14. Take Josiah, for example. He is what you would call a man of force & a man of faults. He's been exposed a lot & he's made a lot of mistakes. He's what some would call "bad" & probably what everyone would call a "sinner." Look at the breakings he's gone through & the lessons he's shared with his fellow leaders or the whole Family!--But in spite of his weaknesses & past mistakes, like leaning to the arm of the flesh, or not being prayerful enough, or not listening to others, or unfruitful relationships, or even the breaking of some rules, there's not a doubt that he's 100% sold-out & loyal to the Lord & the Family & Dad & me! We have great confidence in him as a Family leader, in spite of his weaknesses or past mistakes. He loves the Word, is open and honest, receives correction, tries to change, wants to do his best, has a shepherd's heart, tries to bring out the best in others, & faithfully lays down his life in tireless service for the Lord & the Family. He is a man with a lot of showy, obvious, positive qualities, such as a charming personality, good looks, natural talents, etc., but he also has the non-visible spiritual ones, which are indispensable.
15. We need to clarify the standard by which we judge our young people & their leadership abilities. Charisma, boldness, outspokenness, personality, talents & gifts do enter in, & surely those kinds of kids can be leaders in that the other kids will look up to them & follow them. But in order to make sure they'll lead their peers in the right direction, they'll also need the other more important spiritual qualities mentioned previously.
16. Our adults need some guidelines on what to look for when they choose where to invest the most training, or who to honour with positions of leadership on Home Teamworks, so they don't judge too much by outward appearance, because sometimes a quiet, less flamboyant teen will actually have more bona fide leadership potential than the aggressive, outspoken, confrontational, high-strung teen. This advice is also beneficial for you teens & YAs. You too need to judge wisely concerning who you look to as your role models or bellwethers, making sure they're good Shepherds, who will lead you aright & point you toward the Lord, the Word & the Family standard. Praise the Lord! "Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart."--1Sam. 16:7.
Copyright 1996 The Family