First thing I noticed about this young man was his hoodie sweater. It must be 100 degrees outside and this student has his hood up. I was not concerned that he would fall over from heat exhaustion, I was more concerned about his head and heart. Where was he, because he was not right here. I imagine the pain he is carrying is great. Otherwise he wouldn't have that I don't want you to interact with me look on his face.
So I ignored his look and started pushing conversation with him. I started with the obvious. Hey there, I really like that hoodie, that is sweet. What I was really doing was saying, I see you, I know what a hoodie on a hundred degree day means and that is totally cool with me. Each week the conversation built from a simple hello to information on his family unit and where he was and what he was struggling with. Soon enough the hoodie disappeared all together.
Fast forward 3 years and some change. He sends me a text message, "Do you have a good day for us to meet?"
So we organized a coffee meet up, after my kiddos went to sleep. I sat across the table from this man. (notice how I did not put "young" in that phraseology, he's a man and an amazing one at that)
I listened to him tell me powerful stories of what he was up to. As he talked I saw the same thing in him that I saw the first day I met him. A million person leader. Another way to say that is a person who is impacting the world in amazing ways.
He talked about this program at his school where students mentor other younger students. He was given the opportunity as a junior to be a part of this program. During the first meeting the instructor was explaining a young boy that was hard to work with and needed someone to guide him. No hands went up to help. Nick raised his hand and said, I'm in. He didn't care what the challenge was, he was in. That is the type of leader I'm talking about. Since then he has found out that this young man watched his mother be murdered in their home by an angry boyfriend. What I love about hearing his story is that Nick is the type of man that is willing to look past the obvious struggles in personality or behavior to say, what is really going on and how can I help? That's a million person leader. Oh, I failed to mention that for the last 2 years Nick has been leading a group of middle schoolers for a bible study every Sunday morning without fanfare, without recognition, without praise. That is a million person leader.
Life is about the kid on the back row, the trouble maker, the noise, the pain, the darkness, the hoodie, and the person no one wants to raise their hand for. It's about saying yes to those opportunities and turning around 3 years later, smiling from ear to ear to see that the investment was worth it.
Who is the kid on the back row in your world?
What if you just raised your hand and said, I'm in?