October 6, 2011
Catalyst 2011 Katie Davis
On learning to trust unlikely leaders and mentors
I realize I’m surrounded by young Christian leaders, but I have a confession to make: as a general rule, I haven't always fully trusted leaders under 29. I know many who are brilliant, creative, fun, and spiritually deep, but I guess my predjudice is two-fold. First, they haven’t suffered or failed enough. Second, I can’t get over how immature I was at 29—or even at 39! (I finally started to grow up largely under the tutelage of two great mentors: suffering and failure.) But, alas, Catalyst is messing with my long-standing assumption about young leaders.
Here’s a good case in point: Katie Davis. In 2006, at the age of 18, she took a short-term missions trip to Uganda. Then she returned to Uganda for a year. Now, at the age of 22, she’s already established Amazima Ministries, a non-profit ministry in Uganda that seeks to meet the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of over 450 children. Most of the children are orphans. On top of that, she adopted 14 Ugandan children.
But I was most impressed not with her accomplishments but with the simplicity and depth of her faith in Christ. When she was told that 14 adopted kids seems like a huge commitment, she laughed it off and said, “Well, not when you compare 14 children to tens of thousands of orphans.”
When asked what we could do about huge world problems, she replied, “See the one person in front of you, and treat that one person just like you’d want to treat Jesus himself. Be faithful to the open doors in front of your life.” In her new book, "Kisses From Katie," she writes: “Courage is not about knowing the path; it is about taking the first step.” That’s not only challenging, but it’s also an utterly doable approach to the spiritual life in Christ—even for “ordinary” people.
I’m tempted to say something like, “I love this kid,” but that’s far too condescending. She isn’t a kid. She’s a heroine of the faith. She’s a spiritual and biological mother to many. She’s a leader. She’s our mentor.
So who are the underutilized mentors in your life? Specifically, who are the people that the church seems to neglect as potential leaders, mentors, and heroes? In our quest for bigger, better, cooler, hipper, and louder, who do we shove aside? The developmentally disabled? The elderly—(who are just a wee bit underrepresented here at Catalyst)? The poor? The uncool? What do you think?