At a summer youth event for the organization that I serve, I was talking with a guest speaker who was visiting us from out of state. He remarked about our diversity of leaders and how the mutual respect among us was obvious. He remarked about how some of our key leaders did not fit the typical mold of our denomination. Specifically, he said, “You guys come from different nationalities and cultures. You speak different languages. You have leaders that are all inked and pierced up. How do you get everyone to accept each other so well?” I gave a pretty straight answer: “We’re not big enough to eliminate people because they are different from us.”
His reaction surprised me. He said, “We aren’t either; we just don’t know it.”
I most certainly did not mean by this answer that we have low standards for leaders or that we will let anyone lead. I simply meant that we are a relatively small organization and if we eliminate leaders because they don’t look or dress or act like me, we will cease to exist. People are not expendable. One definition of expendable is: Considered to be not worth keeping or maintaining (dictionary.com). We can’t throw people away. We need every qualified leader we can get. Our leaders are very qualified. They love Jesus with all their hearts and live exemplary lives. They happen to not fit the mold that some people have established.
Our guest finished the conversation by saying, “Some of your best leaders wouldn’t get the time of day in the state where I serve. We have some things to learn.”
We may raise a few eyebrows and be accused of being desperate. That’s ok – we are desperate – to see young lives changed. We are willing to do whatever it takes to see that happen.