The Power of Shadow Leadership
As a father, you pray for inspired youth leaders for your children. My son was blessed to have such a leader for the better part of his time in the Young Men program. One pivotal experience occurred one night in our home. Our Young Men president, Jim Parker, was helping the quorum leaders set annual goals for the Young Men organization. He had asked the deacons quorum president, the teachers quorum president, and the bishop’s first assistant (my son) to come prayerfully prepared that night with goals they wanted the young men of the Merrimack Ward to achieve in the upcoming year.
The appointed night arrived and the three young men met at our home but were unprepared to begin to lay out their goals. Anticipating this, Brother Parker briefly spent some time coaching them on the revelatory process and how to move forward. He then left them to work together to receive the revelation they needed and said that when they were finished they could call him. He would be waiting outside in his car. He then left.
At the time, I was upstairs and heard what was going on downstairs. I was thrilled to know that they were being coached and then were left to seek inspiration on their own. They were being taught the revelatory process. The Spirit spoke to my heart and whispered, “This is why your family is here in this place at this time, so your son can have this experience.”
For the next ninety minutes or so, the young men prayed, discussed, and worked together to come up with inspired goals for the young men of the Merrimack Ward. They sought heaven’s help and direction and were blessed with inspiration to lead according to the keys and stewardship they held. My son is now serving a mission in Spain and he thanked me for reminding him of this experience because he is seeking for inspiration and revelation on a daily basis. I will be forever grateful for a visionary and inspired Young Men president who took the time to coach, mentor, train, and shadow lead my son.
A Missionary Mutual Night
One memorable youth night activity in the Merrimack Ward was focused on missionary work in a unique and meaningful way. The youth leaders turned the chapel overflow area in our building into a simulated airplane. When the youth arrived they were given airline tickets with a seat number and asked to wait in the boarding area (the foyer), before boarding the plane.
Attending that night’s activity were about 30 nonmembers who had been asked to participate. They were given a bit of background on the event and what they would experience. They were told that they would be in a simulated airplane, seated next to one of our youth. They were informed that the youth would most likely talk to them about our church and what we believe. As the nonmembers arrived, they, too, were given tickets with assigned seats and asked to wait in the boarding area until boarding time.
Once the boarding announcement was made, the youth and nonmembers boarded the plane, found their seats, and the airplane took off for a 30-minute flight. The leaders, acting as flight attendants, went up and down the aisle passing out beverages and snacks to the passengers. The youth had been coached and had practiced a conversational approach to sharing the gospel. They had been challenged to get to know the nonmember they were seated next to , engage them in conversation, and share the gospel.
By the end of the activity, several of the nonmembers had copies of the Book of Mormon. All of the guests had a better understanding of the Church and some of our basic beliefs. They left with an overall positive impression of our youth and the Church. Furthermore, the youth had an opportunity to have a missionary experience and were pulled out of their comfort zones for a short period of time in a creative and meaningful way.