Leadership Summit focuses on having perspective

PLAINVIEW – With a focus on mentorship and the need for insight and perspective in all walks of life, the 3rd Annual High Plains Leadership Summit provided student leaders at Wayland Baptist University with a new set of knowledge and skills.

Held Friday afternoon on the WBU campus, the summit began with a luncheon focusing on the importance of mentoring and the leadership program at Wayland in general. Hope English, who had held the position of student leadership and involvement director for three years before moving into a new development role in July, opened the program and introduced guest speaker Rodney Wallace. 

A teacher at Coronado Junior High and youth minister at Happy Union Baptist Church, Wallace is a 1996 graduate of Wayland. In his address, he shared an alumnus’ perspective on leading with insight, reliving his experience at Wayland and how God pulled him out of his comfort zone to meet others and learn from their experiences.

“One of the best ways to lead others is to speak positive words into their lives,” Wallace said, noting that he uses skills and wisdom taught by mentors at WBU regularly in his daily work. “A lot of my students don’t hear positive things that often, and I tell them about what they can achieve in their lives if they make the right choices.”

Dr. Claude Lusk, vice president of enrollment management, then spoke about the future of the leadership program at WBU, now in the hands of Teresa Moore, recently named director of student leadership and activities. He mentioned an antique podium from the original university auditorium on the second floor of Gates Hall and the many presidents and other leaders who have stood behind it over the decades, representing a heritage of bold leadership for the university. He encouraged student leaders to consider what their place in the history of WBU would be.

Moore then spoke about her vision for the leadership program and led students in a quick round of the game Compatibility to demonstrate visually the need to be open to other ideas and see with others’ perspective in order to lead well.

“Perspective affects the way we lead. When I think about leadership I think about how Christ led; he had true vision,” she said. “When we have a proper view of our perspective, we can have vision too. Let your vision be bigger than yourself. You may never have this exact opportunity in time again.”

Following the luncheon, the summit continued with sessions led by Debbie Stennett, director of the Community Classroom. Stennett shared an abbreviated version of the Ruby Payne study on poverty with the student leaders, giving real-world examples of the need for leaders to have insight and perspective, realizing not all those they may encounter in their lives will have the same backgrounds and lifestyles as they do.

“The world is crying out for people who are scholarly and godly and who will bend down when they serve and lead,” Stennett said. 

She then shared the “hidden rules” of the classes and the culture of poverty, pointing out the importance of the information for the students in their future lives.

“I don’t know whether you will be a teacher, or a priest or a physicist for NASA, you will share space with the poor, and your work and ideas will affect those less fortunate than you,” she said. “It’s so important that you understand other people and why they do what they do.”

Hands-on exercises helped students realize the different world and culture in which generational poverty exists and how they are blessed to be so fortunate.

Funded by a grant from High Plains Concrete, the Leadership Summit was the first of a weekend of activities dealing with leadership and service. After a barbecue cookout dinner, students were treated to a free concert with Fort Pastor, a musical trio who focuses heavily on messages of servanthood as worship. The group then joined university and staff on Saturday morning for the Second Annual Degree of Difference Day, working in east Plainview with a major neighborhood effort organized by Primera Iglesia Bautista.