So You Want to Send Your Child to the Children Department of Your Place of Worship? Ask these Ten (10) Child Protection Focused Question: Question 3: who are the leaders?

I am wishing you all a bright and beautiful week. I thank you for visiting this page today. Without taking too much of your precious time, permit me to go straight to the point of our discussion today.

It is the 3rd question you must ask the Children’s Department of your religious place of worship before you entrust your child to their care: who are the leaders? Leadership is very critical and inevitable to the protection of our children in our religious places of worship.

I believe that the primary responsibility of a leader is to teach vision and keep inspiration alive. It is my researched opinions that leaders at any level teach vision most effectively by example. It is also important to note that you cannot be an example of what is not part of you. It means for the leader to teach vision by example, he/she must be grounded in same in words and in deeds, in private and in public. For you to become an example of anything it must assume a status of your second nature or you must be very conscious of the roles assigned to you and the behaviour expected of you. Therefore the leaders appointed to lead the children’s department must be a model to the teachers, other volunteers and the children. Please note also that leaders keep inspiration alive by example.

The vision of a children department of a religious place of worship is a careful codification of what the place of what believes and understand about child protection. Discussing the second question, I have shed extensive light on this very crucial issue. What the religious place of worship believes is codified in a vision; and it is given the wings to fly into fulfilment by its mission. The values of the leaders of the children department are the operating force or the engines room of the vision and the mission.

It simply means there must be compatibility of believe between what the religious place of worship believes and what the leaders appointed to provide leadership to the children department believes. There must not be clash of vision on fundamental issues on child protection as the place of worship and the appointed leaders see and understand them. Where this is the case, there will be double vision and clash of interest. Therefore the belief of the place of worship, no matter how laudable it may be may never see the light of day or be translated into action, if the leader do not share same.

I think there are three (3) categories of leaders within the religious places of worship, who I have observed:

1. The passionate: these are people, who are passionate about children. Their passion is not only real but palpable. The challenge with the passionate a lot of times is that they mistake their passion for knowledge (what to do), skills (how to do it) and attitude (the fortitude to do it). Unfortunately, observers also make same mistake that the passionate make about his/her status. The observers attribute the foregoing to him/her and give him/her responsibilities on the basis of such unfounded perception. Unknown to the passionate and his/her observers, the first door that passion must lead us to open is not the door of doing what we are passionate about. It is the door of learning how to properly discharge our passion through knowledge, skills and attitude in the direction of what we are passionate about. Anything short of this is nothing but zeal without knowledge, which has the raw capacity to destroy the passionate and what he/she is assigned to do. The English dictionary defines passion as ‘strong and barely controllable emotion.’ It is not enough an attribute to lead the children’s department of the children’s department of a religious place of worship.

2. The Expert: these are people, who are knowledgeable about matters of children. In fact they may be an expert in one area of children discipline or the other. For example, they may have certification in education generally, early childhood education, child psychology, child protection, child minding and many others. They are experts, whose commitment is perfunctory in nature. They are not interested in children’s matters beyond the dictates of their profession or assigned responsibilities. Therefore they hardly go out of their ways to do more than is required. It is not in their character to go their extra miles in the discharge of their responsibilities. They are very skilful in adherence to bureaucratic processes, even if it is counter-productive to the cause for which he/she is engaged. They are not also aware of current issues in their field of engagement because they do not seek better and more effective way to discharge their responsibility. Therefore innovation is far from them and they are not easily amenable to change. They are experts no doubt, sometimes with intimidating and formal credentials but they lack a track record of meaningful impact of how their knowledge has translated into laudable and enduring actions. Yes they have the knowledge, yes some skills, but definitely they do not have attitude. Therefore, their knowledge and skills are not enough.

3. The Exposed: the exposed is the star leader. He/she combines expertise and attitude to be the example of a leader. He possesses in abundance what the expert do not possess. Funny enough, he/she may not have formal certification but he/she has through the instrumentality of personal development, fuelled by an interest for excellence developed himself/herself into a robust leader of a children’s department of a religious place of worship. For him/her it is excellence or nothing. Excellence for him/her is a tool to achieve enduring impact and innovation is the lubricant. He/she is aware of the present global trends in matters that relate to children both as it relates to child development and child protection. He/she has a robust knowledge of the basic needs of the 21st century children and how to meet them. He/she is a change agent, with an oath of commitment to his/her conscience that change is an ever-present possibility for any human being, who is determined to take responsibility. Though he/she is not perfect but he/she is exposed, aware and conscious. To his/her passion, he/she has deliberately added knowledge, skill and attitude. His/her greatest possession is his/her attitude, which simply means the fortitude to carry out his/her responsibilities according to the dictates of his/her informed conscience and the terms of reference given by the appointing authority. He/she is confident and secured in his/her own skin, therefore it does not matter to him/her who gets the glory as long as the job is being done. He/she is an excellent team player, blessed with wisdom for expansion and influence. By leadership by example, he has won the heart of his/her team members. Therefore he is able to teach vision and keep inspiration alive. Above all, he/she is an ardent, informed and unrepentant believer in the CHILD and his/her inherent delightfulness.

I beg to sign out here. I will be here tomorrow, by the grace of God to discuss the fourth question. I charge you to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY…Think the FUTURE…

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