Leadership Is a Privilege

Steven Burg

One must be clear to communicate to teens that leadership roles are a privilege, not a right. Leadership roles are an opportunity for teens to be a part of something great. If someone doesn’t step up to the challenge, another person will. This is not unlike Mordechai’s statement to Esther, “If you do nothing, salvation will come from someplace else, but you’ve been given the opportunity to make a difference” (paraphrased from Esther 4:14). Or, as Thomas Paine put it, somewhat more indelicately, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

Teen leadership is a wonderful opportunity, for both the teen and the organization. But an organization must be realistic, recognizing that teens have conflicting commitments and need to learn to balance their priorities. Teen leaders should know that we want them on board, but we can’t wait. The ship is going “full steam ahead” one way or another.

This approach may seem too hard line for some, but it’s treating teens like adults. Being treated as an adult is part of the empowerment and a proven success. ♦

Rabbi Steven Burg is International Director of the National Council of Synagogue Youth, and the National Director of Program Development for the Orthodox Union. He can be reached at [email protected].
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HaYidion Nurturing Leadership
Nurturing Leadership
Summer 2009