Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Look at the Leadership Corp Part 3: The Gift of Service

 In my first post, I promised you a peek into the world of an iGovern Counselor. Well, it starts with very little sleep. From there it’s hard to describe what a “normal” day looks like, because the word “normal” doesn’t really apply to iGovern camp. The one predictable aspect of camp is that it will be unpredictable. This means everyone must be flexible, willing to jump in and do whatever needs to be done at the moment.

 On one level, iGovern is crazy because it’s a scenario. The students are Senators, Congressmen, Ambassadors, and Presidential candidates, and the counselors play lobbyists, Chairs, secretaries, journalists, emissaries, and political establishment insiders. Since everyone is acting, you have to be flexible and adapt as the story progresses. For example, something happens in the International Summit on piracy, so a letter must be written and delivered to the U.S. Senate, pressuring them to pressure their U.S. Ambassador to pressure the Summit assembly. This is politics – people interacting, which is never truly predictable.
On a deeper level, camp is “crazy” because the ultimate focus is not the scenario, or the lessons we’re trying to teach the kids. The focus is the kids themselves. We want the students to know that we truly care about them, and that means putting them and their needs first. There were times when I skipped events so I could just listen to a student who needed to talk. This meant that other counselors had to cover for me when I was out, which made things more unpredictable. The same happened to other counselors too, and I tried to help cover for them. But none of us would have it any other way; we were thrilled when any of us got such an opportunity to show love to a student.

There’s something amazing about living focused on other people. I’ve never done it completely, but there are times in life where I come closer than others.  iGovern was one of those times – when nearly every waking moment is spent thinking “how can I help?” I was there to serve – the kids, the other counselors, and ultimately, God. I didn’t have to think about me: doing my school, my work, my chores… it was all about doing something for someone else. And it was wonderful.

Ghandi is credited with saying, “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” I think I can understand what he meant. I don’t mean to boast by saying I was focused on helping others – to the contrary, I feel like I was given far, far more than I gave. There’s a release, a freedom and peace,  that comes when you think less about yourself. At camp, there’s little time for that – there’s little time for thinking, period! But this can be good. Sometimes we think too much, at least I know I do. Life is in the doing, faith in the action.

James 2:17 says “Faith, if it does not have works, is dead;” maybe this explains why actually doing something – serving – makes one feel so alive.

It makes me want to do more.

Grace Tate

1 comment:

  1. Grace~

    This post really spoke to me. This summer I worked for three weeks as a counselor at a small Christian camp. It was an amazing time. Even though I was there to teach, I learned so much more than I ever could have taught.

    Then, I get to iGovern West, and I was the student, and others spent time teaching me. I've told so many people that I learned more in that week of camp than I think I'd ever had in my life. Not just about politics and how the government works, but spiritual things as well.

    So, I want to thank all the Leadership Corps and GenJ staff who served the 80 some of us for the week. I'm sure you changed many lives to the glory of the Lord.

    I am reminded of Matthew 18:20, which says, "Where two or three are gathered in my Name, there I am, in the midst of them." Christian fellowship doesn't work like math. Everybody might add 1 to the equation, but they get back so much more than they gave. The Lord is the reason everybody gains!

    Again, thank you so much for this post. I'm looking forward to the next two!

    God Bless,

    Alexis B.