“Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.”
We see, hear, and speak these twelve words countless times during our FFA careers. From studying it for that Ag l final, storing it in our brain with the rest of our FFA trivia, to constantly repeating it because no matter how hard we try, we just can’t get it out of our heads, owners of the blue jacket are no strangers to the FFA Motto. But sure, we might remember those words, but do we understand, embrace, and live them?
For many of us, the first day of school is quickly looming closer, and for some, already arrived. And also for many, we spent our summer surrounded by best friends, family, and fellow members in corduroy. But like all good (and fun) things, it must come to an end. We all have to turn in our sunscreen, pool floaties, and vacation selfies in exchange for backpacks, sharpened pencils, and math homework. So how does this dreaded transition really affect us? Besides earlier mornings and even blander food, how will we as FFA members have to adjust?
Throughout my years of not only being a member of the FFA but also a student, I have witnessed many lost opportunities for those of us who strive to be “servant leaders” to live up to our name and reach out to those around us. Let’s go back for a moment to the motto and really focus on the last line-“Living to Serve”. Serve how? Who? When? Of course, it’s not difficult to think how easy as task as simple as helping others when we are encased in a sea of corduroy, being only a small voice of thousands who all share passions and purposes all too similar to our own. It could also be just as effortless to follow through with those words and give instead of receive when there is an entire association or organization doing the same right beside us. Serving is simple and easy. Right? Maybe not.
The moment our jackets return to their hangers and our emblems leave our chests, does the title of servant leader disappear from our hearts and minds with them? Does the desire and drive to stand out and make difference only matter if we are just one soldier camouflaged by an army of corduroy? John Hagee once said, “The measure of a man’s greatness is not the number of servants he has, but the number of people he serves”. Think about it, what better way to serve a large number of people than to turn to our own schools and those who roam their hallways. When we trade in our offical dress for our dreaded uniforms, are we still the leaders we claim to be?
Let’s picture this upcoming school year. Our reunited friends, favorite teachers, and uncomfortable desks will all still be there, but also along with them will be those chances of showing servant leadership we should all strive to posses- the child being pushed against the lockers just because he doesn’t look like everyone else, the one student in Algebra class who no matter how hard she tries, it is impossible for her to process the foreign information, the boy at lunch who eats as quickly as possible so he can go hide in the library before anyone can notice he is completely alone. Let’s all be honest, we have seen these situations play out, the majority of the time, not for the best. And still being honest with ourselves, we have all made the hasty decision that it wasn’t our business, it was someone else’s problem, or maybe even just convinced ourselves that maybe these issues will just go away on their own. And still being candid, we all know we were wrong, and that if we truly “live to serve” we would not sit back, look the other way, or be oblivious to not just these opportunites, but really, these responsibilites to serve. As you step onto your school campuses, will you decide to step between that boy and his aggresors, reach over and show the student how to correct her mistakes in your math class, and sit down with that kid in the cafeteria, even if it means being laughed at or your friends leaving you behind? Jacket or no jacket, we as members are expected to stand out from the crowd and not follow the “herd” . But also as members, we need to rise above expectations and not only stand out, but be leaders through everything we do and everything we live by so that no matter if we are seated in our ag classes, gathered at state convention, or simply making our way through the never-ending school period, everyone who sees us will know that we are the servant leaders we are proud to be. Remember, living to serve is not always convenient, easy, or simple, but will always be courageous, selfless, and needed. This year, Louisiana FFA, how will you live to serve?
Stay amazing everyone! With much love and appreciation,
Sara Toal, State Reporter