Leadership & Hardship

Hardship is a common human experience. But how do those who face hardship turn adverse circumstances into growth opportunities?

“Lorene Shinsky delivered her son, John, to an orphanage when he was 8 years old” (Rexrode, 2009). John’s father had just died of a heart attack, and his mother felt unable to cope with a small child who was already getting into trouble. The only way open for this mother was to place the son she loved in a more safe and structured environment. It was rough at the orphanage but John learned to survive and even thrive. By 12, he was placed in a foster home. At 16 (6-foot-4, 220 lbs) he became a highly sought-after football prospect. He finally chose Michigan State University, where problems with one of his knees ended his professional career.

“Education would be Shinsky’s ticket,” says Rexrode (2009). In 1983 John received a doctorate in education from MSU and reconnected with his real mother, Lorene. He bought her a new outfit and invited her to his graduation. The next day, Lorene was dead at 53 of a brain aneurysm. “I had to bury her in the same outfit,” said John in recounting this experience.

John went on to have a 20-year career as director of special education for a Michigan school district in charge of thousands of children with different disabilities. And in a life-changing encounter on a plane he began what he calls the fulfillment of his 40-year career—opening his own orphanage in Matamoros, Mexico.

In the midst of building the orphanage, John learned in 2007 that he had cancer in his neck. Thirty-three radiation treatments left him unable to talk for weeks or taste for months. But as soon as he regained his strength he continued with what is now his life commitment. John is convinced that he would not have accomplished everything he has done in life if it were not for the difficult circumstances that time and again shaped and molded who he is now and what he is able to do for other children that, like him, face life without a parent. . . . read more

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The Journal of Applied Christian Leadership is a vital journal that should be in the library of every Christian organization, university, or seminary. The Journal is published twice a year by the Christian Leadership Center of Andrews University. Subscription requests can be sent to the Journal of Applied Christian Leadership or established online. To learn more about the Journal click here.

The Journal of Applied Christian Leadership is published by the Christian Leadership Center in cooperation with the Leadership Department at Andrews University.

 
 
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