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Looking back at a year of public leadership

Abi Jarvis, Public Leadership co-ordinator, reflects on the 2018 Public Leader: England course.

When the initial batch of participants applied for the first year of the Public Leader: England course, following a successful pilot in Scotland, we didn’t have a venue, any confirmed speakers, or any information on the others who would be taking part. The course didn’t even have a name!

But 16 inspiring public leaders, who are serving God in healthcare, law, filmmaking, the charity sector and other places in public life, responded to God’s prompting and decided to spend a year with us, to develop their leadership skills and dig deeper into God’s plans for them and their areas of leadership. 

Over 12 months, they attended four retreats, three discovery events and five mentoring sessions. It’s been a whirlwind year, and we couldn’t have asked for a better group to share it with. This team of professionals in their 20s and 30s are committed to serving God, using the gifts of leadership He has given them, and it has been a delight to see them grow. 

We are grateful to the speakers and mentors who have contributed to the course. They generously shared their rich experience and wisdom, and it is because of them that the course has been a success. It was clear that God was speaking through them far beyond our plans. One of my abiding memories from this year will be sitting in sessions during the final retreat (for which I felt unusually underprepared), hearing every single speaker state, unprompted, the need for leaders to depend on God in times of crisis and challenge. It brings to mind Psalm 62:5 – 9:

I depend on God alone; I put my hope in Him. He alone protects and saves me; He is my defender, and I shall never be defeated. My salvation and honour depend on God; He is my strong protector; He is my shelter. Trust in God at all times, my people. Tell Him all your troubles, for He is our refuge.”

Thank goodness that God is in control, even when we feel like everything is going wrong!

It is very easy to look at what is happening in the world and be greatly concerned. Indeed, it is right that we understand the issues challenging Christians, both at home and abroad, and pray for those at the forefront. I am immensely grateful for my colleagues in the advocacy team at the Evangelical Alliance who spend their days speaking to politicians and civil servants on difficult social and political issues on behalf of the evangelical church.

But this course has been a wonderful reminder that God has ultimate authority, and ultimate victory. It is hard to have a pessimistic view of the future when surrounded by experienced and emerging leaders who are dedicating their lives to speaking and leading for God across every sector of society. Instead, I am encouraged to know that there are Christians at the heart of government, healthcare, culture and technology, seeking God’s guidance to be a voice for good in their sectors.

As we read in Isaiah: I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and no one is like Me. I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: My plan will take place, and I will do all My will” (Isaiah 46:9 – 10).

We look forward, in future years, to seeing the fruit of this early input into their leadership, with a growing alumni network not only in England but in Northern Ireland and Scotland – and hopefully eventually in Wales too!

We are excited to begin our second year in England in January, and it was wonderful to share a room recently with a group of participants, speakers and mentors from both the 2018 and 2019 England courses to celebrate the end of the first year and welcome the new participants into this growing network. 

In March we will begin recruitment for the next cohorts in all three nations, with the courses running autumn 2019 to summer 2020. If you know someone who might be interested in applying, please encourage them to sign up to the Public Leadership email list so that we can notify them when applications open.

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