Leading from within: the role of the youths in the church


Leadership has been defined variously, with regards to management and administration, organizations and government. It is a common socio-political phenomenon with many expectations both from those that laid its foundation and the general public affected by its actions. Theoretically, it manifests in form of private or public organization or informal organization; by informal organization we refer to certain circumstances that we find ourselves demanding of prompt and precise responsibilities that will help in addressing a given issue.

To some people, it is the ability of an individual to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute towards the effectiveness and success of the organizations of which they are members; to others, it implies relationship of power- the power to guide others.

Leadership, therefore, must engender in its mechanisms, institutions, and structures, a system that fosters integrity, authenticity, credibility, visibility (foresight), honesty, loyalty and the ultimate ethical value, justice and abhor the concealing of harmful information, bribes that are proffered, untruthfulness, abuse of authority, and the practice of nepotism. These virtues are only adequately expressed in actions and behavior, not mere words.

For me, Leadership is the ability to inspire others into participating in a shared vision; which involves choosing goals, selecting objectives and imposing requirements all towards achieving targets and generating progress. It is more pragmatic than theoretical in nature because it is an action word.  Hence, it implies the relationship of power- the power to guide others to attaining a shared vision.

For one to lead, one must be willing to follow because the whole essence of leading people to a shared vision is also being willing to go the length of the whole journey, following the passion and the road maps that lead to the set goals.

Not all leaders leave a legacy of succession but the few who do, possess these qualities: Lead the initiative with a long term view, build leaders at every level of the organization, create an enduring corporate culture with shared values; have the wisdom to know when to walk away from the limelight and; walk away from the organization with integrity.

In sum, one who leads is a leader. This is based on the function one performs at the moment. Thus as one author puts it, “if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”. This is leadership defined.

The final test of a Greater leader is that he leaves in other men the will and the conviction to carry on.  Walter Lippman


All over the world, young people have been known for their strength, their vitality, exuberance, quality, beauty, integrity, dynamism and creativity. From time past, even in Sacred Scriptures, we have seen how young people have shown forth these youthful attributes especially in the service of God. The mission of the Church [cf. Matt. 28:19] to go make disciples of all nations, is call to young people to use their energy to bear witnesses for Christ. Moses, Samuel< David, Daniel were all young people who played active part in the deliverance of the Israelites as recorded in the Bible

The future of the Church is in the hands of its young, hence in 1985, St. John Paul II initiated the World Youth Day, as a means of drawing young people together to help them recognize the role they play, are playing and should play in the life of the Church. So what are these roles we may ask, I have identified and categorized them thus;

·       Leadership
·       Volunteers
·       Participants
·       Mentoring

Take The Lead [Leadership]

It is said that a leader must be visionary and willing to set the trend. It is impossible to set trends if he resists, ignore or trivialize change. A leader must be willing to not only explore new areas but also be willing to take the first step into a new area. As youths, we are called to lead. A very good platform is the Catholic Youth Organization of Nigeria, CYON which is an umbrella body for all youths in the country between the agae3s of 18 – 35. Through CYON, we carry out our leadership function within the Church. Perhaps this helps us to further improving on ourselves [reaching within to embrace others] and then spreading out. The Church expects us to be ready at all times to take up various positions and the only way we can do that is to be prepared. We will be Chair of the PPC, Laity Council, CMO, CWO etc.?

Change can be described as any shift from the usual or any unexpected event that significantly impact our life. It is a constant factor of life; however our attitude determines whether these changes will be detrimental or beneficial to our purpose and progress in life. We must develop ourselves and prepare our minds for it. 

Giving Back [Volunteer]

Many of us possess various amazing qualities that Church needs in the propagation of the faith and in carrying out its pastoral obligation. The best way to put this to use is through volunteerism. This simply means giving one’s time, talent, treasure and thinking in furtherance of a particular project, cause or goal without expecting financial reward.

There are various ways we can volunteer; the choir, lectors, wardens/ushers, altar servers, MOD, cleaning the church, teaching catechism, working as admin staff in the parish officers, information officers, harvest and other committees etc. through these, we bring our personal expertise in achieving the mission and vision of the Church.

Getting Involved [Participate]

One of my favorite quotes from 2013 [which has really become a part of me] is participate to learn, learn to participate. Getting involved is quite essential because the Clergy and Religious cannot go everywhere. This means that with our participation in the activities and administration of the Church an initiative can continue to thrive even beyond a defined period of time and with the exit of its founders [sometime Parish Priests or even fellow youths or executives]. It entails thinking of ways to keep a project or an important part of it going on after its official end.

Sustaining Projects

People tend to be involved in projects if they are able to buy into the mission and vision, and if;
ü  They feel it is theirs and have a control.
ü  They are working well.
ü  They can see positive changes happening because of the project.
ü  They are learning new skills and increasing their confidence.
ü  They are recognized for their contributions.
ü  All the elements of the project such as language, style, pace of work, strategies, evaluation, methods, and resources are suitable and relevant to them.

Succession [Mentoring]

This means transition; the passing of the baton of leadership from one leader to another. Within this context, it includes the grooming of the younger generation [those in MCA, teens and other children who look up to you] to prepare to take over the reins of leadership. To successfully plan your succession, you must ask yourself;
ü  Will there be anything left?
ü  Will they know where it is?
ü  Will they be able to manage it?
It is said of leaders that they cannot be called success unless they have successors. Hence, advanced planning by leaders helps to minimize risk during transitions, and supports organizational sustainability.

Just a little deviation, reports say that over 70% of Nigerian businesses and organizations fail to reach their third generations [they actually do not celebrate their 3rd anniversaries] due to lack of good succession and sustainability plans. Brands like Coca Cola, Pepsi, PZ, Nestle etc. have existed for over 50 years and are still waxing stronger.  From the foregoing, it follows that those who aspire to become successors should; have earned the respect of different stakeholders within the organization. Fit with strategic needs of the organization. Have the necessary outside experience and education. Are passionate about the organization and the issues it addresses.

Back to the matter; now the Church has existed for over 2, 000 years and it seems that only the clergies understand the rule of mentoring as we the lay people do not think of it often hence we faced with crises during elections or even appointments of leaders. Let us mentor people who can take over from us. Even if the older generation has failed in this role, we must take it up and carry it out diligently.

FINAL WORDS … Legacy of Succession

Someone once said, If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader Not all leaders leave a legacy of succession but the few who do, possess these qualities;
·       Lead the initiative with a long term view.
·       Build leaders at every level of the organization.
·       Create an enduring corporate culture with shared values.
·       Have the wisdom to know when to walk away from the limelight.
·       Walk away from the organization with integrity.
The church calls us as young people to be a part of it as it is part of us. We have the strength, the creativity, the dynamism and the drive to bear true witnesses to Christ especially in our contemporary world. Those who know their God shall be strong and do exploits for greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world.

Take Charge, Take the Lead!! Thank you!!!

Speaker, Compere, Volunteer
Think it! Believe it! Work at it! Achieve it! 

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