TrueWind Leadership Class Spreads to MEA

August 21, 2016 | Seth Ellis

During the reign of King Saul in Israel, Samuel secretly anointed David while his father and seven older brothers looked on in bewilderment. I imagine that the red faces of the slighted older brothers were the same shade as Joseph’s older brothers when they first saw “the coat.”

How do you spot future leaders? Even Samuel, God’s prophet, looked toward the handsome older brother with the better resume until he was prompted directly from heaven to reject outward advantage.

I teach leadership at Mount Ellis Academy (MEA) in Bozeman, Mont., because years ago someone saw a willing heart hidden beneath my confused self-concept and inexperience. Although this is the first group of students at MEA to complete this leadership course, the TrueWind leadership program has been changing lives for decades. It started at Blue Mountain Academy in Pennsylvania, then the founders took TrueWind Leadership to Highland View Academy in Maryland, where I first encountered it.

Now it begins at MEA. Students graduate, and the movement spreads.

We don’t give out cheat codes in leadership class. It’s not a formula, and I don’t tell them to lead like I lead. Everyone is there because they want to make a difference; I just don’t know what that looks like yet. Few people feel inspired by the thought that “I want my life to bring sameness in the world.” But in many schools and churches, sameness in thought and action is the whole picture — the driving force. Ellen White talks about this in her book Education, in which she makes a strong case that individuality is the stuff of “true education."

Kailey Lambert, one of our graduating seniors, put it this way: “I always liked to stay in a small place. I didn’t like to leave my little circle. I was very much also [one to] follow the rules and avoid being blamed. Now I’m learning to sail.”

In TrueWind Leadership class, “sailing” is not a hobby or leadership position. It’s the tide of permission. Here kids learn to read the winds, chart unique destinations, add value to the lives of everyone in their crews and express one of the powers that make us most like God — individuality.