In a cynical world, where scepticism, distrust and unbelief can easily shape how we view people in leadership, particularly our political leaders, the National Student Leadership Forum challenges this paradigm. The vision of the annual forum is to inspire young people to become servant leaders, introducing the example and words of Jesus as a model to follow:

“Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.” – Matt 20:26

My name is Louise Markus, and had the privilege, together with my husband Jim to facilitate a group of young students at the recent forum which included:

  • A day spent in the Australian Federal Parliament, hearing the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Members of the House of Representatives, and Senators share how Faith and Values have shaped who they are and what they believe;
  • Seminars and keynote addresses from inspiring men and women leading in varying walks of life;
  • Small group time to explore who we are, what we believe and how can we serve the people we lead;
  • Servant leadership in action engaging in a community service project, that involved getting our hands dirty, tidying a garden for a wonderful group of people with a disability.

It is important to note that the Forum is hosted by over 40 Members and Senators of the Australian Federal Parliament, who come together across party divides to invest in the next generation of Australian leaders. A similar forum is also held in Washington DC. Members and Senators shared their personal stories and how their faith and values had shaped who they were and what was important to them. Jim and I watched as the vulnerability of our National Leaders broke down barriers and disintegrated cynicism. When the layers are peeled back we realise that people are incredibly valuable, irrespective of any title.

In the words of one of the young people in our small group, the greatest lesson of the forum was that “to lead you need to love people.” Awe inspiring! Faith and Values shape our purpose. The young leaders in our nation from many different intellectual, cultural and faith backgrounds came together to connect with each other. What they discovered was real, vulnerable people endeavouring to fulfill their purpose in life. Cynicism was replaced with respect and hope.

Which leaders in your world can you connect with, encourage, have faith for?