When it comes to leadership, many students can be lulled into believing one’s training can wait. With college degree in hand, simply head to the local book store, purchase one of the many leadership books crowding the stores shelves and presto! Instant leader! Sadly, this could not be further from the truth. In your high school years, many of the most important traits of an excellent leader are being developed and revealed. So be careful about ignoring the present, while waiting on your future. Before you know it, your future is now, and your past framed its arrival.
Seek to be trustworthy - a person of integrity.
There is no time like the present. Proverbs instructs, “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways” (Proverbs 28:6). Many great leaders, in the church and in the world, have fallen from leadership, due to the lack of trustworthiness and integrity. For children of God, this should be non-negotiable. It is is developed in the little things. As students, when you say you will be somewhere, unless there is an emergency, be there. If you say you will arrive at 9:45, don’t show up at 9:51. Be there on time. Better yet, arrive early. My father always told me, “Early is on time, on time is late.” Simply put, do what you say you will, deliver on what you promise and when you agree to complete a task, do so. A leader must be trusted, and to be trusted is to be believed in. A leader is someone we should be able to believe.
Strive to develop the heart of a servant.
In Matthew, Christ calls attention to the leadership style of the Gentiles. He calls his disciples together and says, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.” So far, so good. It appears the disciples have something they can be excited about. Authority! Rule! Nope. Jesus corrected that idea. Jesus continued, “It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25). Is there a better model of leadership than Christ himself? Our lives should display the heart of a servant and the willingness to serve others through the love of Christ.
Live a life of conviction.
People should know what you believe and why you believe it. Our lives should seek to glorify God and to lead with conviction in thought, in deed and in action. A life of conviction may very well be one of the most powerful traits of a leader. Al Mohler writes, “Convictions are not just beliefs; that is, they are not those beliefs that are merely held by us. Instead, convictions hold us in their grip.”
Developing the traits of an excellent leader begins early. As high school students, you should be seeking to develop these God honoring traits now, instead of later. Principles such as these, and many others, are not achieved at a weekend retreat or within the pages of a bestseller. Rather, they are cultivated with time through prayer, the study of God’s Word, and a heart of repentance. A leader, called by God, seeks not the praise of man but to glorify one’s Creator.