The 59th annual National Leadership Forum on campus began Sunday, June 7. This program, open to high school students in grades 9-12, provides students with opportunities to develop leadership skills, examine foreign policy, study social issues, and learn about the traditions and ideals upon which this country was established.
Yesterday, B. Chris Simpson, a University alumnus, spoke about proper communication as leaders. He is a young adult minister at the Holmes Road Church of Christ in Whitehaven, Tennessee, and this year marks the fourth time he has spoken at this event.
“My favorite part about this event is meeting the people that come up to me and say I have made a difference in their lives,” Simpson said. “When I meet them I know God hasn’t left us without representation.”
In a morning session on June 9, Simpson taught his key concepts through real life examples that were easily relatable for the young adult crowd present. He told students that there is more to people than what we immediately see, misunderstanding that idea fosters inaccurate stereotypes, and true leaders communicate and interact with the seen and unseen.
“Words are transmitted as powerful ropes to connect us throughout the ages,” Simpson said. “They are magnets diffusing energy that links strangers one to another. They are posts anchoring one human’s experience to the experience of humanity.”
Simpson pointed out leaders need to speak less and listen more, remember that people are different, and have compassion. He quoted Sharon Johnson, a life enrichment professional, saying, “Communication without compassion is brutality.”
Simpson has a gift for making teens think about oppressive stereotypes while being involved in his discussions. His questions and silly impressions kept the atmosphere light enough for them to feel comfortable answering and had them giggling throughout most of the lecture. Many came up to him afterwards to shake his hand, take a picture with him, or comment on how the topics made them think differently about themselves.
Erin Hanson, public relations intern