Leadership – It’s All About Service by Sheila Holder

Adventist Christian education grows leaders. Many programs are introduced in schools to develop leadership skills in students. More importantly, Adventist education instills the concept of service as a paramount tenet of leadership.

There are more than 350 working definitions of leadership. A simple definition is “leadership is influence,” by John Maxwell. There is also a more complex statement, “leadership is a process of giving purpose [meaningful direction] to collective effort, and causing willing effort to be expanded to achieve purpose,” by T. Owen Jacobs and Elliott Jaques. Yet, the fact remains that leadership at its best is in serving others.

Servant leadership is fostered at Bermuda Institute in a variety of ways. Helping those less fortunate is encouraged from kindergarten right through the grades. One important focus of the school for developing leaders is community service.

One such example is the Bermuda Institute Leaders Charity that was established in 2001. It was the brainchild of Frigga Simmons who, in her position as director of development, wanted to teach the students the importance of giving back to their community and the meaning of philanthropy. The association’s purpose is to teach young people about caring, sharing, and giving. This is achieved mainly through community involvement, environmental stewardship, and responsible citizenship

A student has to be a leader in their own right before they can join the Leaders Charity. They can be a member of the National Honor Society or the National Junior Honor Society. Students are also eligible if they are a class officer, a student association officer, or a prefect. Responsibilities of the members include raising funds to assist those in need, both in Bermuda and overseas, and they must also volunteer in the community.

Simmons, a proud sponsor, has mentored several of the leaders in this distinguished group of students. Some of their accomplishments include:

•           Providing toys to students in Bermuda and also to students overseas

•           Purchasing school supplies for school-aged students

•           Providing clothing for children at Christmas time

•           Painting, cleaning, and creating gardens at various locations around the island

•           In cooperation with a local organization, raising $200,000

The journey of leadership for each student leader must be an exploration into the world of service. Jesus has left the best example for students (and adults) to follow, that of servant leadership. The best leadership, the kind that Adventist education espouses, is leadership that serves the needs of others.

Sheila V. Holder is the superintendent of schools for the Bermuda Conference.