Why I Lead

My wife and I are part of a team which helps leads young students in our youth group. Sometimes they’re angelic. Other times you’d think they were possessed.

And yet we return week after week to help teach and lead these students.

Person passed out on couch

Image by HackNY

Over the years I’ve cut back on my TV viewing. We’ve become more intentional with how we spend our time and watch we watch.

This has led us to cut our cable and purchase a Roku2 XS box. One of the cool features is the Roku allows you to subscribe to “channels.” A channel I’ve grown found of has been the TED channel.

This allowed me to watch a talk by the late Coach John Wooden. In it, he shared a poem called Why I Teach.

They Ask Me Why I Teach

They ask me why I teach,
And I reply,
Where could I find more splendid company?
There sits a statesman,
Strong, unbiased, wise,
Another later Webster,
And there a doctor
Whose quick, steady hand
Can mend a bone,
Or stem the lifeblood’s flow.
A builder sits beside him-
Upward rise
The arches of a church he builds, wherein
That minister will speak the word of God,
And lead a stumbling soul to toach the Christ.

And all about
A lesser gathering
Of farmer, merchants, teachers,
Laborers, men
Who work and vote and build
And plan and pray
Into a great tomorrow
And I say,
“I may not see the church,
Or hear the word,
Or eat the food their hands will grow.”
And yet- I may.
And later I may say,
“I knew the lad,
And he was strong,
Or weak, or kind, or proud,
Or bold, or gay.
I knew him once,
But then he was a boy.”
They ask me why I teach, and I reply,
“Where could I find more splendid company?”

*They Ask Me Why I Teach,” by Glennice L. Harmon, in NEA Journal 37, no. 1 (September 1948): 375


They Ask Me Why I Teach got me thinking about the reasons why I lead. I believe the poem lines up with the reasons I help lead our Wednesday night youth services.

There are times after a Wednesday night service I ask why we come back. Feeling like no one is listening or growing. They’re there for their entertainment, nothing else. Or they’re zoned out like the guy in the picture above.

Or so it seems.

Regardless of why the students come to our youth group, I know Pam and I have a calling on our lives to help raise up the next generation. To teach them the proper ways to behave. The knowledge they need to succeed. And skills they will take with them the rest of their lives.


Because they’re not just young students. They’re like the students in the poem.

We lead them because they have value. They’re the next generation of doctors, lawyers, world changers.

They may not know it. We may not see it. But this is the truth.

Each and every one of the students will make an impact on the world.

Our responsibility as leaders is to give these students the positive reinforcement and guidance as they leave the shelter of their parents and grow into healthy adults.

What About You?

You may not be leading young students like Pam and I. You are leading someone who will make a difference in the world. And you have the opportunity to pour as much of yourself into them as you can.

Give willingly of yourself to those you’re leading. Make yourself available to guide them. Let them know you’re there because you care.

Your leadership over your team may not last long, this doesn’t mean your touch won’t have a lasting affect.

Question: So, why are you leading? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.


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