In Sunday’s readings, God tells Solomon to ask for whatever he wants and God will give it to him. Solomon begins his comments with “I am a mere youth.” Having a lot on his shoulders as a young king, he approaches the offering with humility as king—simply to be able to serve his citizens as they deserve.
He doesn’t seem to own the responsibility of leading his people yet. He is uncomfortable with the prospect, but God assures him that his age and his discomfort have nothing to do with being a good leader.
God says it is this humility, the community-focused desire of having “an understanding heart”, and wanting to “distinguish right from wrong” that makes him a leader of which there has never been and there never will be an equal.
Between the words of yesterday’s readings and the example I see in those younger than me—from the students I meet at ISN programs to the recent words of the youngest female member of Congress as she spoke up for women everywhere—I can’t help but be inspired to continue to ask God for “a wise and understanding heart.”
These young people are quite literally leading national and international movements around preventing and reversing climate change. They’re fighting for more humane immigration policies and they’re leading conversations and actions to make racism a thing of the past.
Each day, I am blown away by their knowledge and strength as they talk about their personal struggles and how that plays into their work for the betterment of the lives of many. Their humility and community-minded actions are where I see Jesus at work in daily life.
But this isn’t a call to let the young people go at it alone. This is a reminder that Solomon and Jesus were both youthful and wise, and that leading with love is God’s will after all.
Lena Chapin is the development director for Edwins Leadership and Restaurant Institute in Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating from John Carroll University, she spent a year in Immokalee, Florida with the Humility of Mary Volunteer Service. Lena worked for the Ignatian Solidarity Network from 2016-2022.