I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” John Maxwell
This month marks the sixth year that this magazine and Belhaven University have partnered to encourage influential young high school leaders to stay strong in their faith and to continue to lead in the next chapter of their personal journeys. High school graduation is one of those significant milestones, a dividing line of “before” and “after” for so many important events in one’s life.
I consider it a highlight of my whole year to go back and reconnect with some of our past leaders and hear what they are doing in the here and now. Including a few of them each year in this issue is, for me, an affirmation of God’s faithfulness to His promise of unique plans for each Believer’s hope and future. These almost-fully-launched young adults encourage me, and I feel sure they will inspire you, too!
This new class of Future Christian Leaders is on their way to achieving great things. They grasp the concept of “salt and light,” and the profound creativity of God is on full display in the talents each has been given. None of us here at the magazine has a hand in scoring the applications, and so, I don’t read the essays until I sit down to put the cover story together. Every year, there seems to be a theme that runs through all of them. I am most struck this year with two things—their collective sense of the big picture of life and their generosity of spirit. They are all givers rather than takers. How very refreshing. In the culture of “selfies,” Instagram, Facebook, and all the other social media “musts,” it takes an extra measure of intention on several levels to slice through the fluff and be authentic. I think from what I read in their papers, these young people have managed to do just that. Hence, they seem to be mature beyond their years.
If you think about it, life for all of us is a series of new beginnings. As these young leaders complete their secondary education this spring, they leave the familiar and plant their feet on a new path where new experiences and new challenges are waiting. And when college ends, there will be more endings and more beginnings. Even at my age, I find myself beginning again every few years as each chapter of life brings me to something I have not met before. How very precious to my heart it is to read in Hebrews 13:8 that “Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.” He is my anchor and my constant.
It is my prayer for these promising young men and women that they will cling to that foundation of Jesus Christ whom they embrace at this moment in their lives with a growing intensity as seasons come and go and the inevitable changes that come with the years bring new challenges—beginnings and endings and more beginnings.
One of my Bible Study buddies sent out an email just this afternoon where she spoke of our journey with Christ as a “continuing education” course. Amen. It is that. And, in that fact, are a hope and a future that never gets old or stale or boring.
And now, enjoy this issue, and meet 24 remarkable Christian Leaders of the Future.