Servant Leadership That Lasts All Year Long

By Jessica Fehrenbacher

We are currently in full holiday mode. This time of year, people are friendly to others, more generous of their time and money and generally in better moods. Over the years, I have heard people say that they wish this type of spirit lasted beyond the holidays. The term “servant leader” came to mind when thinking about this time of year.

How rewarding would it be for young people to take the spirit that is alive during the holiday season and model it all year? To be servant leaders all year requires dedication and commitment.

Ines Arenas delves deeper into the subject in her article “Teaching Values and Servant Leadership With Youth.” Arenas worked with students who participated in a summer leadership program, and she wanted to prepare the students for lifelong leadership that extends beyond a specific season or event.

Arenas had expectations for student conduct that were very straight forward:

• Aim to do the best academic work possible
• Respect others of different races, cultures, religions, genders, ages, sexual orientations, disabilities, and national origins
• Behave in an outgoing, cooperative, safe and responsible manner toward all people in the program (or school, after school program, sport) and in the larger campus and communities
•Work with adult supervision
• Honor rules for physical safety and all other rules for student conduct

Mastering servant leadership is a lifelong learning process. The idea that young people could put these behaviors into action and use them through the teen years and into adulthood presents an opportunity to create lifelong leaders.

By exercising leadership qualities such as focus, determination, integrity, passion and patience throughout the year, students are bettered equipped for solving day to day problems and helping the people around them. They desire to fix issues in their communities and find opportunities throughout the year to volunteer and help others. To be servant leaders year in and year out (not just during certain times of year, at camps or during events) could truly change the community around us. Let’s work on keeping the holiday spirit alive throughout the year, not just in December.

Jessica Fehrenbacher is the Make a Difference Grant Program Manager at Youth Resources.