By Stephanie Ziebarth, Barnabas Program Coordinator
Kyle Swope was fascinated by leadership at a young age. “I always wanted to learn about leadership,” he says. “It was a big draw for me–well before I joined the 4.12 Leadership Training Program. Even the TV shows I chose were because of the strong leaders in them.”
Jacob Harrison is Kyle’s Barnabas mentor and was once Kyle’s pastor. “Kyle definitely aspired to lead,” Jacob noticed when he worked with Kyle through youth group, “even before he was mature enough to realize that leadership has to do with earning influence and isn’t just an opportunity handed to you.”
Kyle entered the 4.12 Leadership Training Program as an eighth grader and began to learn more about Christ-like leadership through his five years in the program. As Jacob mentored him and Kyle served at camp, Kyle realized that you are not a leader if no one is following you. “You definitely need to earn the influence,” Kyle states. “You need to stand up for what is right and put others first.”
“Camp has been the biggest platform for me to learn leadership skills and abilities,” Kyle continues. “And I’ve developed my own leadership style. I need to put myself last and the team first. I need to facilitate teamwork and cooperation.”
Through his years serving at Joy El Camps and Retreats, Kyle has formally and informally led in many areas, including as a junior counselor, media specialist, and dining staff manager.
His leadership growth has been greatly connected to his spiritual growth.
“Kyle had a turning point about two summers ago,” Jacob remembers. “He began to recognize more what God was doing. He took his relationship with the Lord and made it his own. He developed a great hunger for the Lord and for spiritual things. His attitude toward people began to shift. He went from being more self-focused and suspicious to seeing people as those Jesus loved and for whom Jesus died.”
“I had definitely been naïve and insulated,” Kyle agrees. “Participating in camp and the Chambersburg Project that summer helped change my perspective, how I approached people, how I handled conflicts, and more. I really wanted to serve more, and I was taking what I was learning and applying it.”
Kyle recently graduated from the 4.12 Leadership Training Program and is now eager to use his leadership abilities in the workforce and at college. Jacob has agreed to continue mentoring Kyle as Kyle enters this new season of life.
For more information about the 4.12 Leadership Training Program, contact [email protected].
If you or someone you know is interested in applying for this program, informational meetings will be held July 18, 25 and 30, at 6:15 PM. RSVP to [email protected].