Special Edition Newsletter - Essay Contest Winners
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Special Edition Newsletter

IEW Writing Contest Winners
Dear Readers,

We are excited to present the winning pieces from the Institute for Excellence in Writing’s (IEW®) Writing Contest. In each age group, first, second, and third places were selected, along with two honorable mentions. Join with us as we congratulate these young authors in this special edition Magnum Opus Magazine. Thank you to all the students who participated in the contest! We hope you will keep writing and submit again next time.
Upcoming Magnum Opus Magazine Writers’ Deadlines
  • Journalism — June 27, 2016 

Megan L. House
Magnum Opus Magazine Managing Editor
800.856.5815 x5101

Read Winner Submissions!

LEVEL A PROMPT: “President Theodore Roosevelt once said, "Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." What work do you hope to do when you grow up, and what makes it worth doing?”

(The winners' submissions have not been edited by IEW)
From Race Car Driver to Doctor
by Ella Harline, age 10
          Once when I was about 3 years old, my parents asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I answered joyfully, “A racecar driver!” As I grew up, I realized that maybe that isn’t the best thing to do because it is very dangerous. I don’t think crashing into cars or walls and bursting into fiery flames sounds like fun. Eventually, I decided that I wanted to do something that challenges my mind, helps people, and serves the community. President Theodore Roosevelt once said, "Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." Now I want to serve the community by being a doctor! Not just any kind of a doctor, an emergency room doctor!

          Life as an ER doctor would be exciting and challenging. Daily, ER doctors encounter different people with different diseases and injuries. Since doctors are adept detectives, they have to figure out what is wrong with patients and then try to heal them. In one shift as an ER doctor they could set broken bones, sew stitches, perform surgery, and heal critically injured patients. They would never know whom they would meet inside the walls of an Emergency Room. They could meet famous writers, actors, or government officials, who arrive at the ER with a serious medical issue. Although doctors might not experience the thrill of driving fast around the racetrack, they might meet a few race car drivers, who turn up in the ER for medical care. Life in an emergency room is fast-paced. Doctors constantly make life or death decisions everyday for their patients. These decisions can change someone’s life forever.

          In addition to the medical care ER doctors provide, doctors can change someone’s life spiritually. Doctors are often the first person to console and comfort families dealing with the loss of a family member. During those heartbreaking moments doctors can show empathy and provide helpful counsel for grieving families. Doctors can brighten the hearts of sick children, using laughter when they are hurting or scared. When I was 2 years old, I had a serious asthma scare that required an ambulance ride. My parents were terrified and upset. The doctors at the children’s hospital calmed and soothed their fears and helped them through that difficult time. Witnessing a smile on a sick child’s face or the relief of worried parents would truly be rewarding! I want to be an emergency room doctor because in addition to the challenging and varied work I would do, I could calm and soothe the fears and anxiety of patients and parents who enter the ER for care.
Work Worth Doing
by Reeves Baller, age 11
          Have you ever wondered what you want to be when you grow up? I certainly have! As President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” I want to work with special needs kids by helping them become more successful in life.

          When I was four years old, I was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). SPD is the way the nervous system receives sensory messages like hearing, touching, seeing, smelling and tasting. I did occupational therapy at the Baylor House for a year. During this time, I met lots of kids who were like me. Some were more severe than me and some were milder than me, but we all had special differences. Being through this experience has helped me develop a love and compassion for special needs kids.

          Last year, I had several things happen where I thought God was calling me to work with special needs kids. I watched a movie called Radio. It is about a mentally challenged young man who wants to be part of a football program. The football players are cruel and lock him in a shed. I cried and could hardly watch the movie because he was mistreated. I also saw a special needs boy walking down the road. He was hobbling with a limp. Lastly, I met a special needs person working at Taco Bell. He was working in the back but had a big smile. People tell me I am different because when I see a person with special needs, I don’t just sit back, stare or whisper. I walk right up to them and want to know if they were born that way or if something happened to them. Being with these kids brightens my day. I think I can help them but
in turn they will brighten my day. This is work worth doing.
Worthwhile Writing
by Morgan Hale, age 11
As Theodore Roosevelt once acknowledged, “far and away the best prize that life offers is to work hard at work worth doing.” Being an author is work worth doing. Authors should want to have feelings spring out of their books. Most editors believe that books with no emotion should not be published at all. We authors want people to read and experience happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, et cetera. The personal dreams of authors may end up in the pages of their books to either propel or depress the main character. Having fans would be entertaining. Being an author would make me have to learn, taste, see, do and feel many different things to improve my books. You know what would be the most satisfying thing ever? To walk to a bookshop and see my books in the window! I’d have to carry a notebook everywhere to jot down my thoughts, which may become inconvenient. In conclusion, being an author would be satisfying and rewarding. It would be really worth while to be an author.
The Value of Language
by Julianna Kvernen, age 10
          Teaching children to speak a new language is work worth doing. I am ten years old and I live in China. That's so unique! I go to Chinese public school as well as home school.  Interestingly, in Chinese school the teachers start instructing children their second language before first grade. In Chinese school they quickly learn English.  I have seen how they instruct English.  In a similar way I will teach Chinese, which is a valuable language to speak.

          In our quickly changing world over half the population speaks two or more languages.  That means that if you go to a different country and know two (or more) languages they will be more likely to understand you, and you understand them.  When you are on a business trip, vacation, or just
every day life you might need to use your second language.  A second language can change your life.  Teaching language is work worth doing.
A Job Worth Doing
by Asher Perez, age 10
          President Theodore Roosevelt once stated, "Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."  I think coaching is “work worth doing.”  Instead of playing football, which I love, I want to coach sports. Since I love sports and competition this is the perfect job for me. I would coach patiently and strictly. I want to inspire my players not just teach them how to win the game.

          A good coach is patient and structured.   There are many different skill levels, some players are beginners and some are experts at the game.  Because of this, I would be patient with my team as they learn new skills while at the same time challenging them to excel.  It is important to have firm
and clear expectations, which helps them to understand the game.

          David Shaw, who is my favorite coach from Stanford University, once declared, “It drives me crazy when I hear football coaches say it’s my job to win games.  I disagree, our jobs are to teach young people to do things that make them successful on the football field, in the classroom, and after graduation.” Baseball, football, basketball, I will coach any sport as long as I get the chance to help athletes be the best they can be, on the field and off the field.   Because life isn’t just about sports, it’s about pursuing your dreams and being passionate.  This is why I believe that coaching is a job worth doing.   
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LEVEL B PROMPT: “President Theodore Roosevelt once said, "Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." What work do you hope to do when you grow up, and what makes it worth doing?”

(The winners' submissions have not been edited by IEW)
A Rare Dream
by Nolan Gordash, age 13
          “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing”-Teddy Roosevelt. Being an otolaryngologist(ENT) doctor is a marvelous job, since otolaryngologists work hard at work at something that is definitely worth doing. I aspire to become an ENT when I grow up. The inspiration for wanting to become an ENT started when I was little. However, that fancy has not quietly faded. Though it is a long climb to becoming an ENT, the rare opportunity to journey inside the body on a daily basis makes up for that.  An ENT has tasks that are worthwhile and rewarding since they are able to cure many destructive conditions known to reduce persons’s quality of life and in a some cases actually save lives.

          The origin of my inspiration to become an ENT began several years ago. My dad had to visit an ENT because of sinus complications, a fascination was started. The ENT journeyed deep inside my dad’s sinus to find the issue and solve it. Watching the tools suction debris and mucous on a monitor, I was awe struck at the idea that he could venture inside the hidden places within a person’s nose. I also visited the ENT. He was able to cure my sinusitis. After viewing first hand what an ENT did I was instantly amazed and knew that this was an astounding career that I wanted to pursue. When I rapturously gazed at that monitor, an inspiration was formed.

          It is laborious to become an ENT, but it is not without reward. To become an ENT a person must have fifteen years of university and post university. Some return to specialize.  They do not begin working as an accredited ENT. until their early thirties. When working with polyps and tumors, they have to drill in cramped spaces with a tiny drill, which is wisely done using computer guided images. Because they work inside the head and neck in small spaces, they must be extremely careful since one minuscule mishap could cause severe damage or death to the patient. However, with great responsibly comes great reward, as these professionals gain both personal satisfaction from the work that they do as well as achieving an enjoyable balance between work and home life.  An ENT’s work is intricate and challenging however is it also rewarding and worthwhile.

          ENTs have the touching gift of watching patients being cured of life long problems. They are involved in curing numerous problems. From removing sinus cysts that saves a man’s sight, to saving a man’s life from a brain tumor there is no uninteresting day. Drastically improving a patient’s quality of life using immunotherapy to treat allergies is another area of treatment for many ENT practices. Since many people sadly suffer from ear maladies and sinus infections, ENTs are a crucial component in many medical clinics. Watching the recovery of a patient, an ENT gets the joy of noting the restored quality of life in his patient. Using state of the arc equipment is also one of countless benefits of being an ENT. Another positive is that it lets a person support a family, while allowing one parent to stay home with the children. The numerous years of hard work are worth it since ENTs can watch then magnificent miracle of curing a life.

          One of the most significant things that makes being an ENT appealing is the ability to look inside the body is a since I could glimpse how wonderful the body is in person. However, to become an ENT is a tremendous amount of work, but the end result is worth the work. As difficult as it is to become an ENT, the harder the work the greater the satisfaction which is absolutely the case with being an ENT It is also desirable because an ENT is well compensated for their knowledge while allowing me to do something that I find intensely fascinating. Since Otolaryngology covers the neck up it provides for a variety of specialty choices, which is important to me as it could allow for different career options in the future.  The important thing however is it gives that chance to change peoples lives for the better. It is a rare dream to find a job that a person can work hard and the job is worth doing which is exactly what an ENT is.
The Other CIA
by Christine Gasto, age 14
          When asked what they want to be when they grow up, teenagers’ replies are often of the usual sort. They want to be a nurse, or a teacher, or they have no idea. Whenever I answer that question, saying, “I want to be a member of the CIA,” I always receive raised eyebrows, and a perplexed look. I then explain, “Not that CIA, the other CIA, the Culinary Institute of America.” It is often thought strange for a young person to wish to be a chef. Usually, when people hear of my hope to pick cooking as my career, their first question is “Why?” But my answer is quite simple. Cooking isn’t a job, it is a joy. It brings happiness to people, including the cook, and it brings people together. That is what makes it worth doing.

          Cooking is not a job or a chore for me. It is something more; it is a joy. There is something about bustling around the kitchen, stirring, measuring, chopping. Nothing compares with the excitement of trying a new recipe for something exotic or complicated. I still remember the first time I made Baked Alaska, and sat in front of my oven, watching the outside layer of meringue slowly brown, terrified that the ice cream inside would melt…or worse. Puttering around in my kitchen, I created my caramel recipe, which would later win first place in a baking competition. Cooking is incredible. With just a recipe, some work, some imagination and a little time, you can create something. Cooking is not a thing on my to-do list, but rather, the light at the end of the tunnel.

          Not only is food a joy to make, but it brings joy. There is something irreplaceable about cooking something, and having the people you love enjoy it. Happily, I remember how once, when I made cheesecake, my niece, who was not yet two, piped up about how yummy it was. It made my day. I love finding out about somebody’s favorite dish or dessert, and trying to replicate it for them. Food failures can be hilarious. I attempted a healthy, banana brownie once, and set it down on the table after dinner, excited to hear what my family thought. There was a silence, and then my little sister – who was eight at the time – made a face and says, “Yuck, it tastes like dirt!” As I am sure you guessed, I threw that recipe into the trash. At my house, cooking is always an adventure, always fun.

          Amazingly, food brings people together. Think about it, and you will find that it is true. For some people, it is “my mom’s chicken soup” or “oh, Thanksgiving dinner at my house!” However, I believe that we are not really thinking about the food – well, maybe a little bit – but we are thinking of the memories, the people that we associate with that food. Whenever I see the makings for s’mores, I instantly think of the parties that my family has every summer. I think of people sitting around a bonfire, roasting marshmallows, and telling stories. Every time I have sour-patch kid gummies, I think of a crazy car ride and of my friends and I having a hilarious car karaoke. For every person it is different, popsicles make you think of sticky summer afternoons, tomatoes make you remember gardening as a kid. Food brings back memories. Whether it is for a birthday, an anniversary, or just a crazy party, food brings people together.

          The thought of being able to cook professionally, to cook for my family and friends is absolutely incredible. To be able to do something I love for the ones I love is something I value. That is what makes cooking worth it. J.R.R. Tolkien once said, “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” I wholeheartedly agree. That is why, when people ask me the usual question of what I want to be, my answer always has, and always will be, ‘unusual.’ I hope that through my many cooking adventures I will make the world a ‘merrier’ place. That is why I hope to someday join “The other CIA.” 
Making the World a Better Place
by Kylie Barber, age 13
          Everyone knows that people love their pets. It is a fact! However, what if there was no one to take care of them? Unfortunately, people often take veterinarians for granted. Without them however, there would be no shots, no emergency surgeries, and very few healthy, happy pets! Pets may not enjoy their veterinary visit, but they will appreciate it in the end. Veterinarians help all kinds of animals from pet mice, rescued dogs, and even hurt, sick farm animals such as horses, cows, and chickens. They take all the time they need to properly care for their patients and perform frequent check-ups on them to make sure their clients are up-to-date on all their vaccinations. Veterinarians save lives daily by assessing the problem quickly and accurately. Soothing the pets when they are hurt, they do their best to make sure the animal stays comfortable.  A veterinarian makes a difference in the world by making sure family pets are up-to-date on all their shots, showing how they truly care about the animal in need, and saving pets lives by an accurate assessment of the situation.

          First of all, veterinarians make sure both household companions and farm animals are up-to-date on all their vaccinations. They keep the pets and their owners safe from diseases such as rabies and tracheobronchitis, which is also known as
kennel cough. Veterinarians keep pet owners safe from unnecessary loss by making sure the pet’s health is not in jeopardy. For example, shortly after my German Shepherd, Storm, entered my family’s household, he was taken to our local veterinary office. There the vet did his customary check-up and went over the vaccines that Storm had to receive. Explaining everything to my family as he went, he made sure that Storm received everything that he needed while he was in his care. In addition, certain veterinarians make stops at family farms to give the horses, cows, and farm cats treatment, all from a mobile veterinary office. They understand how hard it would be for the farmers to take care of their animals alone so they lend them a professional, helping hand. By vaccinating their patients, veterinarians keep their human and animal clients safe from disease. All this shows that veterinarians make a difference by making sure all family pets and farm animals have the vaccinations that they need.

          Secondly, veterinarians care about animals’ health. They go the extra mile to show how they truly care for the pet. For example, when my parents’ German Shepherd, Lightning, died, the veterinarian that they had gone to for years, Dr. Mark K. Pollman, was truly distressed. As he wiped his eyes, he told us how he was always happy to see Lightning, and we could tell that he was having just as hard a time letting him go as we did. Also, when my parents and I brought our new German Shepherd, Storm, to Dr. Pollman, he was visibly happy to see us and our new dog again. Smiling and laughing, he was thrilled that we trusted our next dog to his care. Caring for an animal is what veterinarians do best, and their care makes the world a happier, better place. All these examples show how veterinarians change the world by showing that they legitimately care.

          Lastly, veterinarians matter because they save sick animals. By quick thinking and a speedy assessment of the situation, veterinarians save countless lives of wounded or ill creatures. For example, when my parent’s dog, Lightning, cut his leg on a piece of metal, tearing one of his tendons, Dr. Pollman came to the rescue. Even though he was traveling for business at that time, he rushed back to his office and performed an emergency surgery that was able to ensure that Lightning had a full recovery from his injury. In addition, a few months ago, my aunt had a horse that was choking on an alfalfa cube at my grandma’s farm. Distressed, she called her local veterinarian, Dr. David Swaney. Knowing he could not make it in time but wanting to help, he gave her instructions on how to save her suffering animal. By following his explicit directions, she was able to prevent her horse’s death. All that being said, veterinarians make the world a better place because they save both family pets and farm animals.

          Veterinarians truly make a difference in the world.  By making sure family pets and farm animals get the vaccinations they need, they keep pets and their owners safe, and they show how they truly care about the pet’s well-being. Veterinarians save lives every day by preforming emergency surgeries and procedures or by giving clear, concise over-the-phone instructions. They constantly work hard to provide pets and their owners with the care that they desire. Regarding work, President Theodore Roosevelt once stated, "Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." Veterinarians indeed work hard, taking on the worthwhile task of caring for the four-legged family members so dear to so many. When I grow up, I want to become a veterinarian because they work endlessly to ensure the safety of animals around the world, and truly change the world with their hard work. The work of a veterinarian is worth doing because it truly makes the world a safer, better place.
Teaching Others Through Ornithology
by Courtney Swanson, age 13
          Look into the trees. What do you spot, flitting around as flashes of color and life? Birds, birds, and more birds. Ever since my brother introduced me to birds at a young age, birds have attracted my attention. We have spent hours scouring books so that the bird which so quickly perched on my deck and flew away had a name. This time spent fueled a passion and honed a direction for what I want to be when I grow up: an ornithologist. By becoming an ornithologist, I can study more of God’s creation, and I can help people learn more about birds.

          An ornithologist is a person who learns ornithology, the scientific study of birds.  Studying the behavior and characteristics of the species, ornithologists look for items that make each bird species unique such as their color, their markings, and their habitats.  Frequently, ornithologists spend their time studying the stunning birds, recording their insightful findings and reporting their conscious conclusions to conservation organizations and wildlife agencies.  Since many ornithologists work for wildlife agencies or parks, they spend much of their day traveling by foot through dense forests searching for unique bird species.  Some even travel internationally.  Researching in the field, ornithologists spend the bulk of their time studying birds.

          One of the most amazing aspects of being an ornithologist is having the chance to explore God’s awe-inspiring creation.  God, the maker of the birds, sprinkled His creativity in every feather and every nest.  Traipsing through forests and parks, an ornithologist is saturated in and surrounded by the beauty of creation.  While watching the birds’ behavior, taking in their beauty, and listening to their songs, one cannot help but marvel at the majestic and masterful artistry of the Almighty.  From the way He designed the birds to breed to how they migrate, birds point to an Intelligent Designer.

          Once an ornithologist learns and understands the many ways God has uniquely and wonderfully made our feathered friends, they have the opportunity and privilege to teach others.  Many of the findings an ornithologist makes are reported in magazines, books and television shows.  This helps others learn to recognize and appreciate the diversity found within this major group of vertebrates.  In addition, Romans 1:20 (ESV) states, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”  This verse proclaims that creation screams there is a God.  Teaching others about birds, an ornithologist points those they teach to God.

          One way to study God’s creation and to point others to God is through ornithology. This scientific study of birds sings of a Creator and His creativity, allowing me to learn more about His world. Most importantly, being an ornithologist allows me to teach others about God so that hopefully they accept Him as their Lord and Savior.
A Businessman
by Frankie Hale, age 12
          Click click, click... cling cling, cling. When I grow up I want to own a business. I have done things from time to time to make a few dollars here, and a few dollars there, but I have never really owned my own business. I don’t really know what type of business, maybe a large community warehouse similar to Costco, or maybe just a small family joint. There are three things I care most about. First, I desire to use my abilities to share the Good News. Second, I desire to make a great impact on the community by way of example of how to live and run a business based upon biblical standards. Last but not least, I would like to have a stable job to be able to support a family well.

          When I grow up, and hopefully start a business of my own, I would like to be able to use my work to be able to share the Good News with my customers. On Palm Sunday and Good Friday, which is when Jesus was put on the cross, I could provide free Bibles for those people who can’t afford them and for those who are just interested in God’s word and want to learn what it says. During
Christmas I could give out tracts so that the true meaning of Christmas would be known. Lastly, through my employees I could show the people what a Christian looks like in his or her daily life. When I am able to, I would like to use my opportunities to send out the Good News of what God has done for every one of us.

          I would also like to send a message to the community about how to live as God has called us to live: obedient, diligent, kind, respectful, and God-fearing. I would specifically hire my employees to fulfill all the standards that God has called us to. If I can find employees that love what they do and do it diligently and little kids see them and start to look up to them, admire them, and want to emulate their lifestyle, we will have a God fearing diligent community. I would like to send a message about how to live a life that pleases God and sends out an applicable message to others.

          Lastly, I would like to have a job that could support my family’s needs. My dad has always had a great job and been able to provide for our family’s needs. When we need new clothes, we have the money to buy them. When we want to take a vacation we can. I am not saying that God will not help
us, because he will. I am just saying just as Ben Franklin once said, “God helps those who help themselves.” I would like to be just like my dad, so I will be able to support my family and also be able to afford to take fun trips with them and do things for them. I would like to be a dad who is able to support his family and their needs. With the opportunities God has given me, I would first like to share with others what God has done for us by sending his Son to die on the cross for our sins. Secondly, I would like to show others how a God fearing life is lived, and lastly I would like to be able to have a job with which I could support my family. If I can set an example of how to live a life according to God’s word, we will have a revived country wanting to follow God’s law. When I grow up, I would like to own a business for these three reasons that I have listed.
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LEVEL C PROMPT: President John Quincy Adams observed, "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." In what ways do you strive to be a leader by serving and inspiring others?

(The winners' submissions have not been edited by IEW)
The Mystery of Leadership
by Kayla Nguyen, age 15
          Julius Caesar. Napoleon Bonaparte. Barack Obama. These three have one thing in common—they all had positions in which they were obliged to lead others. Leaders are landmarks of history. On the other hand, some leaders serve without becoming as prominent as others. Indeed, leaders are not only those who lead our countries, our governments, or even our schools. People who qualify as leaders possess leadership skills, well-known or not. Serving behind the scenes and in everyday circumstances, leaders surround us in several situations. President John Quincy Adams defined leadership  in the following words: “If your actions inspire others to dream , learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” I endeavor to be a leader when I am not ashamed to be who I am, when I stand true to what I believe in, and when I serve others.

          To begin with, I strive to be a leader when I am not hesitant to take confidence in myself. I am a missionary kid. My family serves as missionaries in Cambodia, South East Asia. We have been serving nearly ten years. When we left our lives in America to work in Cambodia, I was only six years old. This move dramatically affected who I am today. Because the life of a missionary is an incredible privilege, I feel confident in who I am as a missionary kid.  Furthermore, as a missionary kid, I have opportunities to inspire other youth. Specifically, my family returns to the United States every two and a half years to visit churches, family, and friends. On our recent visit, I was involved in speaking in front of various churches. Additionally, I spoke in front of small groups of teenagers. This gave me a chance to share my experiences in Cambodia. Moreover, I was able to inspire other teenagers in the United States by my stories. I had the chance to excite teenagers in America about the world around them and specifically about reaching the world through missions. While being a missionary kid molds my character, my heritage also shapes me. Furthermore, I am not ashamed of my heritage. My father was a Vietnamese refugee during the Vietnam War. In Cambodia, the Vietnamese are a poor, neglected minority group. Maintaining a pride in who I am in relation to my Vietnamese heritage, I inspire the Vietnamese in Cambodia not to be ashamed of their nationality. In conclusion, I attain leadership qualities when I inspire others to possess pride in their personal identity.

          Furthermore, I strive to act as a leader by standing true to my beliefs. A leader is steadfast. First of all, my family serves in Cambodia to share the good news of Jesus Christ. However, we have family members back home who do not advocate this cause. At times, it is a trial to be different. While we receive encouragement to spread the good news from churches, we do not receive so from some family members, who have beliefs other than ours. Nonetheless, I do not waver in trusting and believing the Bible. I believe the Bible is true, regardless of what others believe. I hold that Jesus is the Son of God. A leader should not be hesitant or tentative to declare what he or she believes. In addition to differing from some of my extended family, I also differ from the people we serve in Cambodia. We sow the seeds of good news about salvation through Jesus to the people in Cambodia. On some occasions, the people respond; on other occasions, they do not. However, even if they do receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, it is easy for them to become weak in their faith. Striving to remain adamantly faithful to God, I show an example to the believers in Cambodia, especially the young believers who are my age. Surely, when I stand firm in my beliefs, I inspire others to do likewise.

          Last of all, I endeavor to be a leader when I serve others. Since my family lives at a teaching and training center, I can serve the students who attend by helping them to read and write. In addition, I travel weekly to a village in order to teach literacy to the children there. Watching their progress, it brings gratifying joy to me when I can help the students. I know that I can assist in giving their lives opportunity by helping them become literate. In addition to serving these students, I serve my family in simple ways around the home. Living for others is indeed more fulfilling than living for oneself. When I take time to help my family by doing chores, I love others more than myself. By helping others, I fulfill a Biblical lifestyle and view beyond myself. Caring not primarily about my own goals, I continuously discipline myself into attaining leadership skills. Assuredly, a wise leader is not consumed with selfish ambition. Indeed, the essence of leading is looking out for the well-being of others. Washing the dishes, taking out the garbage, and sweeping the floor are apparently insignificant tasks. Nonetheless, I find that these simple chores are what help me the most in attaining leadership material. Like drops of water that eventually fill a bucket, simple chores shape me every day. This occurs because I put myself in a low position and put others above myself. I act as a leader through serving others in order to have true leadership qualities.

          In conclusion, I attain leadership abilities by being confident in my identification, standing firm in my beliefs, and serving others at every opportunity. In addition, however, the most important aspect of being a leader is serving others for their benefit. Jesus exemplarily portrays this attitude in the Bible by washing his disciple’s feet. In the book of John, Jesus explained to his disciples, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” Furthermore, the Jesus states in Luke 22:26, “Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.” Serving my neighbors, my family, and my friends, I strive to be a leader. This is what truly shapes me into becoming a leader. The mystery of putting oneself low in order to become a great leader is paradoxical but true. This is a mystery that even Julius Caesar probably did not comprehend.
Leading With a Servant’s Heart
by Injee Hong, age 16
          “Mom, mom! You are not going to believe it—I won Middle School Class President!” This excited utterance marked the beginning of my young political career. After the initial glory of winning the election faded, I realized that being a leader was not as simple as it seemed. A little part of my young, middle school mind looked forward to sitting in an immaculate office while doling out a multitude of orders. However, I soon discovered that leadership entailed so much more than the picture I had imagined in my head.

          As I excitedly dived headfirst into serving as Class President, I increasingly realized that my position was not about the title and prestige. Instead, I learned that being a leader meant serving alongside the other members of my team with humility. In Matthew 20:26, Jesus explains, “But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.” Jesus’ words stand in stark contrast to the message the world often sends to leaders telling them that they can consider themselves superior to everybody else. Although it is easy to listen to what the world has to say, God calls people to lead with a servant’s heart. So when the world’s message tries to weasel its way into my head, I constantly remind myself that I need to lead humbly and in a way that glorifies God because, in the end, God is the ultimate leader I am serving, no matter what position or title I hold.

          With the knowledge that my efforts as a leader are serving God, I seek to work with a diligence and commitment that encourages others. During my time as Class President, I tried to put this desire into practice, and one rewarding instance stands out in my mind. I was organizing a toy drive for children in local hospitals, so a group of students and I went to a toy store to choose toys for the children. Knowing the pain and suffering that the children receiving the toys were going through, I wanted to select meaningful toys that I hoped they would enjoy. As I was taking my time to pick out the perfect toys, one of the other students asked me, “Why are you trying so hard? You don’t even have to be here because you’re the president.” This inquiry caused me to stop and think for a moment, but I quickly answered that I was working hard because I wanted to show my commitment to our organization and the people we were serving. The other student thanked me for being a president who showed up at events and got involved instead of simply giving out orders. This interaction is memorable to this day because it made me realize that commitment demonstrated by a leader can serve to inspire others.

          In movies, bosses are often portrayed as cold-hearted individuals who punish their subordinates. However, in my years of serving as a leader, I have also learned that leaders are only effective when they have real, meaningful connections with others in their organizations. Getting to know the unique personalities and traits of each of the members has allowed me to create relationships that go beyond just leader and club member. I have been able to learn about members’ strengths and weaknesses, and this knowledge has helped me delegate tasks to members based on what I know they will both excel in and enjoy. Throughout the Bible, the church is often described as one body with multiple members who each have different functions. In the same way that the church requires the cooperation of these diverse individuals, my club seeks to work together to successfully use each of our God-given gifts. By giving members tasks that they enjoy and do well, I hope to practice Jesus’ command in Philippians 2:4 to “…look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” The relationships I have formed have also given me the opportunity to be open and honest with the club members. There was once a Ping-Pong tournament I was planning to raise money for a human trafficking charity, but I was overwhelmed with all the work I had to do. Thankfully, I was able to honestly share how I was feeling with other members in the club, and they generously offered to take on more work than was required of them. This experience demonstrated how leadership is not about being superior but more about creating personal relationships where leaders and members treat one another with respect and dignity.

          In addition to creating an environment of respect and dignity, I have strived to create a joyful atmosphere in the organizations I lead. When asked during my campaign for Middle School Class President what the one thing I would bring to a deserted island would be, I emphatically responded, “a positive attitude!” Although this response is quite cringe worthy looking back, I have actually attempted to incorporate a positive attitude in all my work as a leader. Seeing people excited to complete their tasks and participate in different events, instead of reluctantly following orders, brings me so much joy because I want all the people I lead to love what they do. I also desire for people to have purpose and motivation. By holding meetings where the entire club discusses how we can make a positive impact on others’ lives through our work, I hope to give each of the members a strong sense of why they are in the club. These discussions ignite hope within our club and instill a drive within each of the members to continue their hard work because they know they are truly making a difference. As I seek to better serve my club, I am constantly inspired by Nehemiah’s leadership, particularly by his ability to keep God’s purpose before the people. Nehemiah realized that rebuilding the wall was tied to the higher purpose of reclaiming the people’s faith, and by reminding the people of this purpose, Nehemiah was able to inspire the people to finish their work in a mere 52 days. Like Nehemiah, I strive to remind the people I lead and myself of God’s purpose for each of us as individuals and for the organization as a whole. In the future, I hope God can use me to inspire others in the same way he used Nehemiah.

          Looking back to when I won that middle school election, I realize that I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Although leadership turned out to be more difficult than it seemed, it also was so much more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. Seeking God’s purpose, working alongside such incredible people, and forging new friendships are just a fraction of the things I have gained from my experience as a leader. As I continue working hard to be leader with a servant’s heart, I know that another quality of a great leader is the ability to continue growing and learning. And thus, as I continue through my journey of trying to find the elusive formula to being a perfect leader, I look forward to improving myself in my future endeavors. As I move forward, I hope to continue seeking God’s will for me as a leader while understanding that, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). Although I have not quite reached the level of having my own immaculate office, I know my middle school self would not be too disappointed.
A Quiet Leader
by Cheri Stutzman, age 16
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader” -John Quincey Adams

          I am not a leader. I am not the type of person the world pictures when they picture a leader. On the contrary, I am quiet, shy, and introverted. But does a leader have to be the outgoing extrovert, who motivates a crowd to success merely because of their personality? Or can a leader be a quiet presence, who, simply by their actions and their spirit, motivates others? Great leaders are those who inspire or serve others. That is what John Quincey Adams is speaking about in his quote and that is the leader I strive to be. Through my actions, my words, or lack of words, and my dreams, I can inspire others to “do more and become more.” When I do that I have become a leader.

          For several years now I have been a part of a small theatre group called Players of the Stage. It is through them that I serve the community and by doing so, inspire others to give. Three times a year, Players of the Stage puts on a benefit show. After each one, an offering basket is passed slowly through the audience. Every penny collected goes directly to a local mission. By being an actor and committing myself and my time to work hard for our purpose, I can inspire others to give a little to help the suffering in our community. It is one of the most rewarding experiences I have taken part in. Working hard to put on that spectacular play, then watching as the money grows slowly towards our goal, twelve thousand, fifteen thousand, seventeen thousand… and finally presenting it to the mission director, we are able to inspire and lead others to serve the community in this way.

          This is not the only way I can serve the people around me. A great leader is one who ministers by encouraging, listening and building others up. As I walk through my day, simply by having a positive influence, I serve. In this world of negativity, where social media, TV, the internet and virtually all we hear, screams negativity, I can be optimistic and lift others up by simply a kind word or a smile, changing their day from terrible to spectacular. With one, small, encouraging word it is possible to lift the gloom off a person’s face, to wipe the worry away. I can perhaps lift that cloud of negativity that hovers over everything we read and watch, just a little, by a cheerful countenance. And I can serve others by listening. Several days ago, my friend had just returned from a mission’s trip, all she wanted was to talk about her adventures. I just sat and listened and she knew that what she is passionate about really matters. If I can listen to others, listen when they are hurt, listen when they rejoice, then I will build them up. By doing so, I inspire others so they too can serve, so they in turn can build and encourage and listen. Through such simple acts, I can become a leader who motivates others by example.

          My goal in life, what I dream of doing, is to inspire others to serve through writing. The world is full of suffering, hurt and injustice and I cannot stand by and watch it continue. Growing up in Thailand, I saw the human trafficking, heard about the child slavery, and witnessed the poverty that enslaves so many. I have seen beggars sitting on the dirt floor of the market, their eyes blind and their limbs missing, a cracked, grimy cup with a few coins at the bottom, sitting in front of them. That is why I hope to one day write about the social injustices. I desire to stir up in the readers heart an urgent need to do something, that they will wake up to the world around them and begin to respond, slowly bringing justice back to life. The written word is a powerful tool and my dream is to use it to inspire others to action. Several times people have told me that it will be a lot of hard work, a writer’s life is not an easy one. But to me that does not matter. I am willing to give my time in order to see justice done, to see right outweigh wrong. If I can open people’s eyes to the world around them just enough that their hearts are moved to action, then I have become a leader.

          Hence, through serving the community through drama, lifting up the people around me by my words and my listening ear, and inspiring others to overcome injustice, I can strive to become a leader. I can motivate others to “do more” through my actions and my words. If I inspire others to change the world in which we live, erase the negativity, and stem the injustice that flows through it, then I will be a quiet leader.
A Meaningful Life
by Angelica Hall, age 16

          When one makes the decision to serve and hopefully inspire others, it is a completely selfless act, an act done not for one’s own reasons, but for those of others. It is done for the bettering of their community. Saying yes is the first step. Taking up pivotal leadership roles is one of the most common ways to serve others. Whenever one chooses to serve and inspire, they carry with them a sort of aura that attracts people, an aura that makes you warm inside whenever that person does something as simple as smile at you. And last but definitely not least, one of the most difficult duties that a leader must take on is making difficult decisions.

          Why does the miniature word “yes” have so much meaning? Saying yes to the right things is the first and most important step to being both a leader and an inspiration to others. Consciously, one must make the decision to full-heartedly say yes. When one says yes, they are ultimately making the decision to do the right thing. It is the small things we do that make such a meaningful and positive impact on others. One of the most substantial decisions I have ever made was about a year and a half ago, which I had promised yes to. When a director of a historical production fell ill, she asked me to take the show into my own hands. To this day, I am so delighted to know that I said yes and gave many kids their dream of being on stage. It is amazing, how much meaning is in the minuscule word of “yes”.

          Serving one’s community is an important leadership role, which typically comes with much responsibility. One of the ways I serve my community is by volunteering every week at the local hospital. Being there every week, I often wonder about other things I could possibly be doing. But each and every time, I remember that I am making a difference in these patients lives, by both serving and I hope inspiring them. I make the decision to serve these patients and the staff wholeheartedly. There are no words to describe how it feels to serve others, it is like this amazing peace one feels within themselves. For three years, I would donate one day per week to being a local school director’s personal assistant. I loved serving the school in every way I possibly could. From all the positive feedback I had received, I knew it was deeply appreciated. My favorite volunteer job is one that I have recently taken up. Instead of sleeping in on some Saturdays, I choose to go out to the homeless center and spend my mornings making meal packets for the less fortunate. It is different being with these people. As I took the food to the patron’s cars, they would turn and look at me, and what I witnessed in these people’s eyes was hurt, stress, dejection, and sometimes anger, but then, I could see pure gratitude. Not only did I see this from their eyes, but also from their mannerism and thankful words. Moments like these are when I know, there is absolutely nothing else I would want to be doing at that moment, but to be there, and make a meaningful difference in these people’s lives. Joyfully, I know these minuscule actions I do to serve my community means so much more than I could ever imagine.

          Being the highlight of somebody’s day is like being an inspiration to that person. There are countless times where I have seen a person whom burdened themselves with a glum face. On instinct, I simply flash them a smile, and it is like a wave has washed over that person’s face. In that moment, I can tell that I have just inspired that person to look at life in a new light and to realize that there are people who care. In my experience, I know it makes me feel a million times better to know somebody out there, is in fact thinking about me. I believe the right thing to do is to return that pleasure, even if it is to a stranger. The simplest things in life can inspire people, such as an effortless phone call or a sweet letter. Some people, for example the elderly in nursing homes, absolutely love company. They enjoy seeing people full of love and full of joy. I know for a fact it is the highlight of their day.

          In the future, I hope to live my dream of having a greater leadership role in which I serve more than just my local community. While some want to go extraordinary, it must be understood that one must begin by doing the small things, because they do matter. Unnoticeable ways in which one serves or leads in, are like a flight of stairs. On these stairs, one climbs to the top in order to achieve greater and better things. Someday, I hope to be a leader in one of the most significant ways. I want to be a leader by serving my country. Within my everyday life, I must remember to start from the bottom with things, such as being an inspirational role model not only to my community, but more importantly to my younger siblings. Being a positive inspiration to others should be second nature to all human beings.

          Whenever a leader makes a decision, it is not for what he can gain, but for the greater good if his followers. A lot of the time, decision making is not easy, usually because it arises from a deep and difficult situation. As a human tendency, it is more liable to go along with what everyone else is doing, when in reality, it should be the exact opposite. Something that happens a lot, especially in scary and intense situations, is one’s inability to think for himself. Having to act calm and make the right decision at the same time is honestly scary, nobody wants to experience the feeling. Even though it may hurt, many times a leader has to make the decision that includes self sacrifice to a certain extent. What defines a leader is how he acts in situations like these, and why he makes the specific decision to do so.

          It is absolutely amazing, as human beings, what we are capable of. Making the right decisions are just the beginning. Taking up leadership roles and being an inspiration to others in every way possible are great decisions in themselves. Deciding to be a positive person in general is an inspiration to countless people. When I was rather young, someone extremely close to me inspired me to chase my dreams of today, dreams I am not all to sure I will achieve, but I know, I will use every ounce of will power to do my absolute best. I also hope, that every single day I will be able to make the best decision, no matter how hard it may be. Being a leader and inspiration to others start at home, and once one can achieve this, they are set for life in an extraordinarily meaningful way.

Silent Leader
by Haylen Schneller, age 15
          I’m not the type of person who likes to be in charge or in the spotlight, but I’ve learned that I can lead even behind the scenes. I prefer leading by example and reflecting what I say through my actions. Therefore, by encouraging others, exhibiting responsibility, and showing generosity I desire to serve and inspire those around me.

          One way I strive to be a leader is by giving encouragement. An area of my life where I can openly and freely practice this is on my tennis team. By encouraging and praising my teammates, no matter what skill level, it inspires others around me to do the same. I especially make an effort to not only encourage the higher
players, but the lower players like myself, who often need it most. Primarily, my goal by doing this is to show them that regardless of their position, they always have the power and opportunity to lead, even by doing something as little as saying “great job.” I lead on my tennis team through encouragement.

          Another way I aim to lead is by exhibiting responsibility. This is a valuable and noble trait to have as a leader and is highly respected. My church youth group is the perfect area to show responsibility because it requires individual commitment. There are many different ways I can execute this, such as listening to and obeying the leaders above me. My goal is to encourage my classmates to respect the leaders’ authority and fulfill the expected responsibilities given to them as a part of the group. Regularly and willingly attending all events, extra-curricular activities, and mission projects put on by the youth group is how I lead by example. This is a massive way to do my part and display great responsibility as a member of the church.

          The last way I lead silently is by showing generosity. This act can sometimes become routine and therefore unappreciated. Because of this, I aim to find new opportunities to be generous and to serve others. One approach I take is volunteering for Vacation Bible School at my church. The example I hope to set is to humbly and graciously put others needs above my own. Additionally, by being considerate to those around me I start to notice and appreciate acts of kindness shown to me by other people. This is why I strive to go out of my way to show generosity to others in hopes that they will want to do the same.

          Encouraging others, exhibiting
responsibility, and showing generosity are all ways I strive to be a leader. Minute acts, which are just as important as grand ones, are very impactful. Even though I prefer to lead covertly, the silent and sometimes unnoticeable works I do have a lasting impression on those around me. As someone once said, “Never assume quiet is weak and loud is strong.” It may not be obvious, but quietly and humbly I do my best to lead where God has placed me.
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