I will never forget it. I sat on the balcony of the Fireplace Room at The Wilds in North Carolina in the corner where the Music office now resides. I was a recent college grad working on the program staff. My “job” for the week was to sit in on the Student Leadership Conference we were hosting for several Christian schools that week. The personal impact on me grew with each session, but it culminated during the “10 Principles for Handling Life” session. I sat there somewhat in awe and somewhat in bitterness…“Where was this conference when I was in high school?!?!” were the words that kept running through my mind.
I had been a good kid. I tried to do right. I tried to live for God. But not everyone in my Christian school was going my direction. I stumbled as I attempted to take a stand for right. I just didn’t have the tools. And there they were—10 principles that could have changed my life and maybe even the lives of my classmates! As I sat there with these mixed feelings, I realized that I had actually lived out a few of these principles without knowing them—God is amazing! I also realized that I could have done more with my high school days. I thought of several classmates that I might have been able to encourage towards Christ if I had some of these tools.
A “few” years have passed since that day in the Fireplace Room. I have long gotten over my “bitterness,” but I have not gotten over my passion and desire to give these tools to Christian school teens. I am sold on what an effective Student Leadership Conference can do for a teen, a family, a school, a church. It is now my privilege to coordinate and even speak during the Student Leadership Conference here at The Wilds of New England. Partnering with Matt Williams and his team from SLC (Student Leadership Conferences), I have had the great joy to see enduring impact from this short conference for the cause of Christ.
To be sure, a Student Leadership Conference is not just another trip to camp. The whole conference is very carefully designed for maximum influence on the teen and the school. One of the things that makes it so different are the 4 School Strategy times that are set aside for school administrators to sit down with their students in open forum to talk about the problems in their school and how they (the students and administrators) can solve the problems together. As God’s Word works on the hearts, the strategy sessions give opportunity for practical, specific, and planned application. In short, it is awesome. I have personally been able to witness the ongoing change in lives, schools, families, and churches because of what God gets done in a few short days of Student Leadership Conferences.
In His wisdom, God chose not to let me have all the tools in my high school days, but I am very thankful for that day on the balcony of the Fireplace Room. I believe God used that experience to plant in me a deep passion to help Christian school kids who are just like me—willing, but unsure howto take a stand and authentically live for God. And now, I am writing this blog to let people know of this great opportunity!
In their own words about the 2017 conference:
“The conference helped me to really see that I need to make a change in the school now. After I graduate, I won’t have the same opportunities to help the lower classmen in the school. I think it’s important to leave a lasting memory in the minds of the younger students instead of just being a senior who graduates without a long lasting testimony.” Student
“God has been teaching me a lot. Mostly that I need to not be afraid to take a stand in my school when someone is being made fun of and when someone is not talking about good things. Also to invest in younger students.” Student
“Leadership is actually an impact. It’s so easy to encourage someone, and it’s the little things in life that mean the most. You don’t have to be a senior or even an adult in order to be a leader. Anybody of any age can make a difference in someone’s life.” Student
“This week I have been really motivated to step up in my school and be a leader. I have had that desire going into the school year but having this leadership conference has really helped “cement” that in my mind. It has also given me some very useful tools to go about being a leader in my school.” Student
“Something the Lord has taught me during this conference is that I need to really strive to be a selfless servant. I need to get out of my comfort zone sometimes and help those in need,with a Christ-like love.” Student