Good Leaders Are Made, not Born
Contributing Author: Mr. Jamie Anderson, Sixth Grade Teacher
For some it seems as if they are natural born leaders, while for others, they have to work really hard to be a good leader. Leadership training is not something that can happen overnight, it takes time and intentionality to train up good leaders.
As the sixth grade teacher, I have the privilege to work with students and train them to be the leaders God calls them to be. On the first day of school, the students are challenged to daily live 1 Tim 4:12, “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
Daily, students are challenged to be responsible, respect others (Luke 6:31), strive for excellence (Col 3:23), and to listen (James 1:19-20). They have the opportunity to be a leader by holding doors for others, helping them carry supplies, picking up garbage that has been dropped, and leading by example in lines, on the field, or in the hallway.
Weekly, my students have the opportunity to speak in front of chapel by reading Bible verses. They also demonstrate how to worship, they help change the Powerpoint slides for the worship songs, and they help set up and take down chairs for the students and parents.
Monthly, the girls have a Bible study with Mrs. Maestri where they are studying God’s word and learning how to encourage each other and to develop lifelong friendships. For the boys, I am using the Bible’s characteristics of a Godly man and showing them how the code of chivalry and characteristics that were required of a knight were based upon God’s word.
Quarterly, the sixth graders join together with the ASCEND school (the Autism Spectrum Center for Education and Neurological Development), for field trips to Mortimer’s Farm, the Yavapai County Fair, Christmas parties, Easter celebrations, and various other activities. This reminds students that being a leader is about serving others. I remind them that leading is “not about me, but about you.” At first, the students are nervous and feel awkward being around the autistic students, but by the second visit, our students are opening up and letting God’s love flow through them. By the end of the year, they are having great conversations, smiling, laughing, playing games, and having fun with the ASCEND students, as if they had been friends for years.
The highlight of this leadership training culminates with the Sixth Grade Camp Out. This highly anticipated event helps students transition to seventh grade with campfire Bible studies, community building games, but most importantly, a rite of passage ceremony.
The ceremony begins on the second day of the camp when we go on a hike to where a board has been set up for them to cross some water. Before walking across the board, they are reminded of Romans 12:1-2, and “to not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of their mind.” They are challenged to step up and lead their classmates closer to God, and not be like the teenagers the world expects them to be. After giving them time to think through what is expected of them, they have the opportunity to walk across the two-color plank. One side represents sixth grade and their younger self. The other side represents maturing into a godly young man or woman. In the middle there is a distinct line separating the two sides.
The students are given this visual that they are making a choice to become more mature and to accept more responsibility for their actions. After they cross, they receive a letter from their parents telling them of how proud they are and the great things they have to look forward to over the next several years.
The students, who take this seriously, often become the leaders of their class. Others may take a little bit more time, but they too are growing into the leaders God wants them to be, and impacting the lives of those around them.
Jamie has served on the faculty since 2007 teaching at several levels in 2nd through 7th grades. In 2010, Jamie earned his Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University. During his free time, he enjoys the outdoors and officiating sports.