So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
(Mark 10:42-45 NRSV)
Yesterday I accompanied our second-year Leaders-in-Training to Stop and Shop in Miller Place. We were there to represent Island Harvest, the largest hunger relief organization on Long Island. It was their second time this week hosting a collection for those without enough access to food on Long Island. I was pleasantly surprised by how many people stopped and listened to our LITs as they handed them a leaflet and explained what we were up to. I felt encouraged as the big, empty cardboard boxes we had slowly began to fill with fresh fruits and vegetables. After finishing at the supermarket, we loaded up our van with everything we collected and drove to Island Harvest’s distribution center in Hauppauge to drop it off. In just two days, the LITs collected nearly 700 pounds of food! It’s amazing how much of an impact a handful of people can have!
So why were our second-year LITs asked to do this project? Of course, it was a great opportunity for them to serve people in need. But what does that have to do with developing leadership skills? From a Christian perspective, leaders are first and foremost servants. They are servants of God in and through their service to others. This is what Jesus not only teaches us but also exemplifies through His actions, for Christ “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” By standing outside of Stop and Shop for several hours over two days and asking folks to buy food for the hungry, our LITs were serving as examples to the community. Leaders enable others to do God’s work and bring out the best in people. By asking others to help those in need, the LITs gave dozens of people the chance to be leaders themselves- to take a few moments out of their busy lives to show compassion to folks that they’ll probably never meet. Just like we expect them to be role models at camp, the LITs are learning what it means to be role models wherever they find themselves, to be reflections of Christ’s humility and God’s love. Not a bad way to spend the summer!
-By Dan Bell
Christian Formation Director