Service or ministry begins with identifying a need. There is a problem that needs a solution, something broken or failing that needs to be fixed, or something that needs to be done. By its very definition, a service is a helpful action, and for something to be truly helpful, it must be needed.
So why is Gen J needed? What is the problem I am trying solve, the cause that I am trying to help, by joining the Leadership Corps? Why does my work as a camp counselor count as service?
The answer to these questions is two-pronged.
On the practical level, the immediate problem is that too few Americans, and even fewer teens, realize the part they play in “we the people.” Citizenship, our responsibility to lead, is a fast-fading (if not foreign) concept. Government and politics seems detached and irrelevant to our everyday lives, relegated to the world of the nerdy and/or power-hungry. Statistics reveal our apathy – we don’t understand how our government works, nor do we understand why we should care.
Then, on a deeper level, there is a need for leadership that is good. We don’t just need to be involved for the sake of citizenship. We have a higher calling: to shine the light of Christ into every area of the world. The last thing America needs is just more political operatives. What we need is leadership that honors the only true source of life, liberty, and happiness.
Enter Generation Joshua: an organization created to train Christian teens to be good leaders in government, as well as every other area of life. Since you’re reading Liberty’s Call, I assume you’re pretty familiar with Gen J. But to re-cap, Gen J is all about giving teens opportunities to really experience government and politics, thereby learning leadership hands-on and putting faith into action. To this end, the iGovern camps were designed. Instead of simply lecturing students on government, politics, and leadership, the students actually become the U.S. Government for one crazy whirlwind of a week.
Enter me, the lowly camp counselor. As a member of the aptly named Leadership Corps, my role in teaching servant leadership to teens is to be a servant leader myself. Actually, it’s easy to forget that I’m a leader, when all I’m doing is folding t-shirts, directing students to the next activity, or delivering papers. Even in teaching situations, as the Gold Party Hack, overseeing a committee, or leading devotions, it’s weird to think about the impact I may be having on those watching me.
But that’s the point of Gen J: everyone, on some level, is a leader. We all have an impact on those around us. This is what we try to teach at iGovern, and it is what I end up re-learning over and over again in the process: We are leaders, and as such, we have a responsibility to be good ones.
By Grace Tate