By Chad Hagel, NCLN Intern
As a child who seemed to be born with two left feet, tripping used to be part of my daily routine. Whether it was at the mall or in the park, there was almost a 100% chance my feet would betray me to the non-negotiable forces of gravity. Down I would go, the ground rising up to meet me, my hands flashing out to stop my fall, and I would usually be rewarded with two fresh scrapes.
My mother used my frequent tripping episodes to teach me a lesson: Don’t let people try to help you up. You have to do it on your own. As I got older, I found the opposite proved true: you do need people to help you up. You don’t have to do it on your own, as we are all facing the challenges life brings, regardless of our place in society.
When it comes to the challenge of saving the pre-born, the seriousness of the emergency requires all of us – especially campus clubs – to take that lesson seriously.
We need to be teams focused on saving lives.
That means we have be aware of each other and ourselves, and we need to recognize the unique talents that each person brings to the table. Our feet must be firm on the ground, and, despite any differences in opinion, our teams must have a sense of unity that speaks to the gravity of our work.
How, then, can you create that sense of unity within your campus club? Here are some ways to get started:
- Meet people where they are. Not every person enters pro-life activism with the same mindset, level of enthusiasm or level of training. As leaders, we have to recognize this and make adjustments in how we approach the people we work with. For example, when I began pro-life work, I had an action-oriented mindset, was somewhat lukewarm in my enthusiasm, and had no training. With the coaching and support of other pro-life leaders, I have grown to be a leader focused on change, on fire for the pro-life cause, and equipped to engage in some of the toughest conversations. These leaders realized that I needed certain things to become a full-fledged pro-life activist. They also recognized that I had something to give to the fight to end abortion. Taking account of our personal needs and ambitions without losing sight of the emergency at hand enables us to grow as a life-saving team and attract new members on fire for ending abortion.
- Build trust. Meeting people where they are at necessarily engenders trust. New members come feeling vulnerable, and possibly feeling a bit unsure of what they are getting into. It’s our jobs as good leaders to assess their current level of training and enthusiasm, tap into that and build them up so they themselves can become leaders. In turn, you come to trust them in their commitment and assign them greater tasks, raising their level of activism, as it were. I can speak from my own experience: I rose from general club member to President precisely because I was given the opportunities to develop as a leader and prove myself. Learning how to meet one another’s needs, while supporting one another in leadership development, creates that spirit of trust that is essential for the pro-life movement. If we can’t even trust the people we work with, how can we ever hope to accomplish anything significant together?
- Recognize individual value. Since the worth of the human person is the central message behind the pro-life movement, we leaders are called to recognize the different abilities and talents our team members bring to the table. Is there someone better suited to working behind the scenes and helping the movement on your campus run smoothly? Then assign them that task. Is there someone who has a strong passion for being a voice on campus for the pre-born through activism? Then give them full-reign in planning outreach! The same goes for people who write well, possess graphic design skills, or know how to build a website: create a niche for them in your club! Why? In recognizing individuals’ talents and providing them with a space to exercise them, we bring together the two points I mentioned earlier: people are met where they are at in terms of their talents, and trust is created as a result. In this way, we establish a spirit of collaboration, which will go a long way in creating a club that is well-grounded and firm in their convictions.
Like my childhood self, I can almost guarantee you that you will trip, some times more than others. You will make mistakes. But that’s part of the adjustment process – and experience only cements some of these points.
Nonetheless, get back up again. When all is said and done, you will have a team that is well put-together and one that can easily accommodate new members. You will have the finest life-saving team with you as you strive to change your peers, one person at a time.