Diego Alberto Catinac Guarchaj is full of hope for a better future—and not just for himself. The 32-year-old is a community leader who serves as secretary of the board of directors of his community organization. He lives in the mountains of rural Guatemala and is qualified to be a school teacher, but with few available teaching jobs, he does farm work instead.
When Guarchaj heard that World Renew was going to start a leadership development project in his community, he was excited to participate. But as he and the members of his board began to examine some of the leadership patterns that could be holding their community back, Guarchaj realized that his own ideas of leadership were limited to “showing up and getting things done.” True community leadership includes much more.
“The workshop facilitators told the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples framed as leadership and service,” Guarchaj said, “The story made me realize that being on the board is actually a way that I can serve my neighbors. The training process strengthened me—not only as a leader, but spiritually.”
As Guarchaj investigated and practiced obedience to God by loving others, he became more aware of his neighbors’ needs, and he began to prioritize those over his own ideas and agenda.
“I learned that being active in my church isn’t enough,” he said. “That only makes me like the Levite or priest in the story of the good Samaritan. I said I loved God, but I was not serving his people.”
In other words, Christian leadership requires living out a life of service throughout the week, not just on Sundays.
Today Guarchaj is a dynamic community leader who intentionally gets to know his neighbors so that he can understand their strengths and challenges. He then focuses on tapping into their strengths and helping them meet their challenges.
Guarchaj’s story is an example of the blessings of shared success—the kind of success that is achieved only by working with and caring about others.
Through World Renew’s partners, Guarchaj learned that leadership comes with social power. This power is protected by laws and can be used to help shape community life in collaborative and relevant ways.
“But what matters is to truly love my neighbor and to unite for a better future,” Guarchaj said. “God is at work among us. I pray that we will continue to learn to serve each other and work together to improve our community.”
About the Author
Beth DeGraff is a Senior Project Manager with World Renew. World Renew works in about 30 developing countries worldwide, living justice, loving mercy, and serving Christ.