My gut reaction may be to find other qualities which I judge to be more important- is it kindness? Gentleness? Understanding? Respect? Listening? Interestingly, these are what I see to be some of the foundation qualities of leaders. And then it comes down to it- what do I admire about people?
I admire those who stand up, who don't bend to peer pressure, those who are strong but gentle. Its not money, success, or even words. When it all comes down to it, character is incredibly important. And good character in the service of the King, my God and Savior, is the most important. My rambling thoughts find connections.
A while ago I wrote a post about being sheltered. I questioned whether it was a "bad" thing to be sheltered and came up with the general idea that it wasn't necessarily a bad thing or even a sign of being naive. But the truth is, if one gets out and gets involved in the world, he or she will be exposed to things- whether these be sinful lifestyles or unprofitable conversations. Different careers and fields may be exposed in different ways, but it my opinion, it's how we respond to these things which matters.
Peer pressure is a really tough issue. It's so hard to be the one left out, the one who chooses to not take part, and sometimes even the one who doesn't "get" unnecessary comments and jokes. And that isn't to mention the fun factor. After all, they are innocent enough, right? Words mean nothing. But the unfortunate (and yet fortunate) truth is that words don't just mean nothing. They reveal the heart, they have power to give and take life. Words are important. I recently watched a movie which had a quote which I mostly agreed with. The basic premise of the quote was to find a compromise in conflicts where it didn't matter and in areas where your values were not compromised but if the line was crossed to become an issue of merely giving into peer pressure, don't give in. Stand your ground.
Sometimes it is frustrating when a great group of kids who are generally pretty great people get together and find it necessary to have completely worthless conversations which range from being merely unprofitable to words which tear down one another. From one faulty human to the next, I encourage you to build up. Don't be the person who is planting seeds of doubt, lack of self worth, and discouragement in others. I know I have been that person before. After all, I am human and not in the least bit perfect. I have been the one to take part in a soul wrecking conversation. I have been the one to tear down another person. But while not being perfect is completely normal, I urge you to give some thoughts to your words. What do they mean? What do they really mean? If you feel that its just a bunch of politically correct nonsense, it's not.
When Jesus was here on earth, He didn't scornfully ignore the sinners. No. He ate with them, talked with them, loved them. But He wanted them have more than sin ridden lives. That is what He died for- to cover for all the sins of the world and to set us free from unnecessary bondage. To allow us to walk in light. Jesus was very involved in the world but He, being the perfect man, did not join in any of the sin. While we cannot hope to attain that lofty goal while on this earth, we can encourage each other to be in the world and not of it. Yes, as we grow older and get involved with the world we are exposed to conversations and situations which are less then ideal. We may lose some of our childish innocence which allows covertly inappropriate conversations and ideas to pass right over our head. But purity of the mind and the heart, the caving into peer pressure, and the need to immerse ourselves in both the bad and the ugly, that is something which one gives away. Exposure may not be an option but how we respond is an option. I admire those who are willing to lead in the direction of hope, life, and joy.
Will we respond as lights- giving words of hope and edification? Or will we chose to bend, to move with the crowd, to traverse the paths of darkness, doubt, and smashed hearts? Choose life, my friends.
And yes, leadership, real leadership which leads to life is an admirable and important quality. To any guys out there, your leadership is still important. It really is. It is in a sense God given- not to be abused but to lead those willing to follow to life.