An all-time favorite game in any youth setting is a good old-fashioned tug of war competition. Aspiring winners line up on both sides and take the rough rope firmly in their hands. They begin to position themselves for the strategic “leverage spot”, often digging their feet deep into the ground. Almost immediately, the rope becomes taut as both sides vie for the best possible start. And then a hush falls over the crowd as the official booms, “Ready…Set…Go!” For a few seconds, neither group gains any ground. The physical strain is evidenced by the loud groans as they struggle to gain just a little bit of movement. Then, almost in an instant, one side gains momentum. Once that momentum begins, the tug of war is quickly over. The slow slide turns into an all-out avalanche as the winners tumble over each other. The opposing side falls into a heap, realizing they have lost.
There is a tug of war happening in our world today and the one that pulls the hardest will win. It might not be a physical one, but it is real, and the rope is taut. On one side of the rope stands the next generation. They are bold and they are strong. They are filled with dreams and hopes and desires, and they desperately want to make a difference in this world. Their grip is tight, and their feet are planted, their resolve is sure.
On the other side of the rope is a large, ominous group. Their numbers are large, and their physique is solid. They represent the cares of this life. School, work, college pressure, standardized tests, peer pressure, temptation – you name it, they are on the other side, and they are gripping the rope tightly, whispering lies that are convincing in nature. Almost immediately students realize they are outmatched. At least, that is what they think, until they turn around and look behind them.
Standing there, with the rope firmly in hand, are their teachers, their pastors, their friends, their family, their support systems. In order for our students to win, they need a group of people who will grab the rope.
Students need educators that are willing to believe so strongly in them that they will stop at nothing to bring life-giving leadership training to them. They will show them how the truths of God’s Word weave seamlessly into every educational concept so that students understand that God’s Truth is the truth.
Students need pastors that will provide leadership opportunities that will give students the training grounds that will equip them for real-world leadership. They will be their biggest advocate and the one who continually reminds them of the power of hope.
Students need friends who will link arms with them and will, to borrow a quote from Captain America, resiliently declare, “When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of Truth, and tell the whole world – no, you move.”
Students need parents who will set aside their busy schedules and make room for their children and provide them every possible opportunity to learn how to think, dream and lead.
Having spent 20 years in the educational world, most of that time as a high school principal, I have seen first-hand what happens when we grab the rope. Students thrive when they are supported by a strong group of people who will stop at nothing to ensure they have a solid foundation to stand upon. I have also seen what happens when an educational program partners with a leadership training program as intentional and effective as Student Leadership University. During my time in education, we had hundreds of students go through the SLU Journey and every one of them would declare that they are able to more effectively navigate the cultural snares and pressures and focus more intently on dreaming big dreams, thinking world-changing thoughts and leading in a manner that will undoubtedly bring about life-change.
Let’s not ever forget that students desperately need support and guidance. My question to you, educators, pastors, friends, and parents is this…Will you hold the rope?