I recently watched again the movie "Hacksaw Ridge" which retells the life of Private Desmond Doss who was the first (and I believe only) Medal of Honor winner who was a conscientious objector. A man whose compassion for others and passionate patriotism led him to save the lives of hundreds of men as an army medic. His story was one whereby his beliefs were challenged and his motives questioned; yet, he held true to both and what resulted was nothing short of a miracle.
The most striking scene to me in the movie was a few days following his heroic actions he is praying while his brothers in arms wait. The commanding officer is questioned about why they have not engaged to which he replies the men are all waiting on Private Doss to pray. These were not a bunch of men who all of a sudden had a come to Jesus moment. Instead, they knew leadership because Private Doss had exemplified it and people will rally around selfless leaders.
Leadership is not about being the fastest, strongest, most athletic or even the toughest player. True leadership is about being compassionate for those for whom you lead. It is about having a servant's heart. It starts with doing like Private Doss did and taking care of yourself first. Focusing on making yourself the best person you can be and then applying your strengths to the cause.
I will take care of me for you, if you will take care of you for me.
Compassion comes from the latin root "pati" which means to "suffer with". This is not an emotion but is instead and action. We are called to suffer with others if we are to understand and be able to help them overcome. To be compassionate, we ourselves must first be in a position to help and that means our own house needs to be in order. How are we to help others and suffer with them if we are more apt to make the situation worse having not prepared ourselves to help others.
Our Savior is the quintessential example of suffering for others. He was willing to bear the sins of the world not simply because he was the son of God but because he had spent a lifetime preparing himself to be the sacrificial lamb. One does not need to read much of the new testament to be in awe of how Jesus stood up to the leaders of his day who were constantly looking to discredit him and he did this through compassion and love and not through malice and spite.
If you want to make a difference in your peer group, your team, your family, your work, etc. then focus on making you the best person you can be and ask yourself at the end of every day, "Did I spend time today working on being a better me?" If the answer to this question is yes, then I can guarantee you had a greater chance of making a lasting impact in someone else's life.