Published on May 19, 2017 at 9 a.m. by Mary Kathryn Evans  
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A week as an Animate staffer is incredibly rewarding. The people you meet, the stories you pick up, and the times of worship together are like no other. As a Samford student who has worked as a staff member at Animate, I’ve learned much about leadership. Here are four qualities of leadership that I’ve learned through my summers working at Animate.
 
Leaders need an attitude to serve. 
Being a staff member that enjoys what they do is all about attitude. When I’m feeling tired or insecure, I’m inspired by the kind hearts of my fellow staffers. As a staff member, we are here to serve the staffers and to also serve one another. The relationships that I have built with the other staff members are strong and long-lasting because of the mutual respect and love we have for each other. In our morning staff devotional time, while cleaning up at the end of the day, or during a casual conversation that ends up turning into a deep discussion, we learn to grow in our love and thankfulness for one another. It’s such a gift to work beside people that love the Lord and are eager to learn more about how to worship Him with the same passion that you have. That’s why our team works so well, because we genuinely are looking to help each other and learn from one another so we can all succeed as a team. 
 
Leaders need a teachable spirit. 
The best way to go through life is to assume you are always learning, even as a person who has the words “staff” written on their shirt. From the guest teachers to the students who are participating, we can learn a lot from each other. During my first year as an Animate staffer, I was amazed at the humility, love, and creativity each student carried. Their attitudes and energy inspired me to reevaluate some of my own thoughts about worship and to approach the Lord with the same kind of curiosity that so many of them do. Their willingness to learn and absorb all that they can has inspired me even now to go deeper in my own worship. Sometimes I forget that I’m here to work, not just to learn for myself. Ultimately, we are all students here to learn about and worship the same glorious God. What a gift to learn from such accomplished professionals and incredible students at the same time.
 
Leaders should expect an element of surprise.
Animate is a wonderful experience because we never fully know what the week is going to be like. One of the special things about Animate is that the leadership is constantly listening and adapting to the needs of the students. The staff is searching for how to better serve and provide for our participants, which can be difficult at times, but it creates such a rewarding product. One year, we realized that the worship service we had intended to create was not going to work quite right for the group of students that we had, so our team sat down and quickly created a new plan which highlighted the strengths of the group. This ultimately created a much better experience for our students and allowed them to walk out what they had been learning over the course of the week. This also allowed for us as a staff to show the students how we value them and how we want to help them grow in the best way that we can. Affirming students and helping them to walk out their calling and passions is what Animate is all about!
 
Leaders need a young spirit. 
While work and leadership is important, so is having a good time. One of the best ways I’ve done that is by engaging the students through play! God created all of us to enjoy one another and to enjoy Him, which we can do through worship and through playing games or running around outside. I will never forget how much fun it is to sit around in the village late at night and sing, or draw, or eat a popsicle and talk. God can teach us so much and help us to build lasting relationships when we are enjoying what's around us, which I have seen happen time and time again!
 
These are some key reflections on leadership that I have discovered by being an Animate staffer. Being a staff member at Animate is a special experience. It stretched me, empowered me, motivated me, and made me realize just how amazing our God is over and over again. The stories and experiences that I have gained through Animate are like no other. I can’t wait to learn and grow even more this summer at Animate 2017!