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Stories of Redemption
Why become a Servant Leader?
Reflections on Servant Leadership for the Young Adult
My coach encouraged each of his players to “live life with no regrets.” I can honestly say that a year of service at His Mansion, far beyond simply not being a regret, is one of the greatest choices I could have ever made. ~ Daniel Barnhart
At first blush, leaving behind “life” and traveling to a hill in a remote part of New England can seem pretty drastic. More than that, it can perhaps evoke images of great sacrifice—putting a career on hold, a romantic relationship into unknown jeopardy, or simply giving up many of the creature comforts we enjoy on a daily basis (access to unlimited entertainment, unbridled social media, etc.). However, beneath the surface the appeal of leaving the world behind—at least, for a season—holds much greater appeal than an individual may readily admit. For me personally, it was sitting in a class my senior year of undergraduate that I caught this vision, and I am so glad I did. Because of it, I’ll never be the same…and I say that in the best possible way one could envision it.
To the average aspiring young person, it seems incredibly counterproductive to stop whatever you’re doing and serve at His Mansion. One may wrestle with how difficult they can tell it will probably be—the people serving there certainly make no qualms or attempt to conceal the difficulty that day-in, day-out communal living holds on a multitude of levels. However, there is a depth and richness to this way of life that can only be captured in such a unique environment.
This approach to community is one, which produces a cornucopia of benefits that cannot be taught in a classroom, and cannot be gleaned from a textbook (or any other book, for that matter). Service at His Mansion in the Servant Leader role is the kind of thing that uniquely reflects strengths and weaknesses while consistently calling one upward and onward to grow into the man or women one was always meant to be.
I know it did for me. I personally attest and witness to this – after completing four years of college and graduating – my spirits soared. I was filled with the pride of my own achievement, practically to the point of bursting at the seams. As a self-taught perfectionist, I concealed and masked this disturbing success. However, eventually people come into your life that see you for who you are—if you’ll let them. I met many of these people while serving at His Mansion. They challenged me in ways that were difficult, painful, and typically draining.
All of this happened while I was called to be a minister to others in the authoritative role that Servant Leader is, shepherding and caring for others as a Christian brother or sister. This journey of walking alongside others in pain evokes the imagery of the “refiner’s fire,” as some Christians are often fond of reflecting on. This process by which one walks alongside another in pain and brokenness cannot help but draw the minister or shepherd (in this case, Servant Leader) into the fray of self-knowledge, personal growth, and communal challenge to become more fully created in God’s image.
Without undergoing this year of intensive service, I shudder to think about the kind of person I would be, going straight from undergraduate studies into graduate school. Left unchecked, my pride strikes me as the kind that grows larger and larger while indiscriminately destroying much, if not all, that lies in its path. For others, their unique sins and weaknesses will be just that—unique. A dear friend once commented to me that a place of healing like His Mansion does not attract people for no reason—they too are broken and in need of healing. Like a magnet, they are drawn towards it for reasons beyond their own consciousness—the Holy Spirit works in ways that we will not understand on this side of heaven. But if you feel a tug on your heart toward that place and in that role, do not fear. There is a reason it is there, and it is ultimately good.
Pray, ask, and trust for God’s guidance in making this decision. For those that choose to do so, I believe with great certainty that they will not regret it. It will not be easy, or always fun, or immediately gratifying. But the things that are most precious in life also take the most sacrifice, do they not? If the great things were easy to achieve or accomplish, then everyone would do them. And so with that, I end my encouragement to one who is considering stepping into the Servant Leader role. My college football coach encouraged each of his players to “Live life with no regrets.” I can honestly say that a year of service at His Mansion, far beyond simply not being a regret, is one of the greatest choices I could have ever made.
After graduating from Wheaton College in 2015, Daniel Barnhart took a gap year to participate in the Servant Leader Training Program at His Mansion from 2015-2016. He is currently in the PsyD program at Wheaton College Graduate School.