You're a leader, right? The one with the righteous cause who will do anything to ensure success. You're the one who becomes a leader because you're pretty awesome. If you weren't, why would they appoint you? Or you're probably the most hard-working, sacrificial, faithful, loyal, talented, (enter your best adjective here) servant. You were bound to be promoted!
As I connect and see some of the projects of young christians I can't help but to notice some trending commonalities. Maybe you've seen them too. Maybe you have seen them in yourself just as I have seen them in myself.
My generation deals with leadership in a different way than most. I feel that there are somethings young leaders posses that helps them thrive, achieve more than others, and create community through culture. I feel that my generation wants to follow someone that has earned their loyalty rather than because they "have to" follow them.
Here are a few things that we can work on:
1) The way we want the masses to view us
We live in a world where anyone with internet access has a platform to be heard; where anyone with social media friends or followers has an audience that can hear that message; and where Google can bail us out of ignorance with relevant information. We tend to view ourselves smarter than we are, more popular that we are, and sometimes, we think we are the most important person in our world.
We do a disservice to the message that we carry, the mission we were called to, and the gift that was given to us by viewing ourselves as something other than what we are. If you have good self-esteem then I think that that is great. And if you don't then, I'll happily pray with you. Either way, improper self realization can lead us to believe certain things about ourselves that aren't necessarily true.
The false narrative that plays back to us can motivate us to hide our deficiencies. People want to follow people who are authentic. If you're playing the part of a leader but are portraying yourself as something that you are not people will see that.
Jesus knew exactly who He was and yet, he asked His disciples, "who do people say that I am?" That's crazy! And they gave Him different answers. Jesus could have said, "I think I'll play the part of Elijah, or that of another prophet. Those seem to be more popular than me."
Yet, He stayed true to who He was. To further enhance the importance of this He asked his 12 disciples, "who do YOU say that I am?"
Peter's answer to that questions reveals the importance of the inner circle's intimate knowledge of the leader. Peter was not influenced by what others thought of Jesus. Neither was he deceived by Jesus into viewing Him as something that He wasn't. Peter was spot on with His answer.
Don't ever forfeit authenticity for popularity. Those closest around you should attest to the real you. Some people will be different with the masses because they don't want to lose their following and they disappoint those nearest to them. Be careful of this.
2) The Habit of Dismissing Hard Work or putting in the time
We want everything so quick! Our impatience has labeled our generation the "microwave society." That's horrible!
Look, as a young leader, I'm sure that you are passionate, full of energy and promises, with an unstoppable imagination. Awesome. Yet, that could also lead to your downfall. If you don't learn to control your eagerness to be a leader then you'll end up compromising your development.
Do not shy away from putting in the time under someone who is more experienced than you. They don't necessarily have to be older than you but they ought to have more experience than you and they need to have the ethics you hold as standards. When you devote time to serving under someone else, your character develops patience, and as you mature with time and experience, you'll have the wisdom that you would have lacked.
The Bible says that "iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." The sharpening doesn't happen without action. You not only need to surround yourself with others but you need to work together. The harder you work, the longer you work, the more consistent you work, the sharper you will be.
Don't make the mistake of promoting yourself too soon. You'll be a dull leader instead of a sharp one. The seeds you plant today will be the harvest you reap tomorrow.
3) How flaky We Are
You are losing people's trust because of your inconsistency. You can't be one thing one day and a totally different the other. You have to be consistently firm in who you are and true to what you say.
This is important even in the little things. If you say you're going to be somewhere at 7:00 a.m. then you better be there at 7 a.m.! Being consistently late is disrespectful to those that you keep waiting. You are not above those you serve. Not only will people feel taken advantage of when you're inconsistent with your word but they will also lose confidence in you.
As leaders, people need to know what they can and should expect from you.
4) The Mindset that We Are Superior than those of the past
As my influence began to grow I noticed a subtle arrogance in me that hurt my growth and it hurt those that were older than me.
Like most young leaders today, I looked at the church and blamed the lack of resources and activity to my parent's generation. I felt like they were out of touch with reality, as if they were so uncreative that they didn't realize we were in a new millennium. I know I'm not the only one that's felt this way.
I notice that we think we have the answers for everything that we deem "wrong" with our organizations. We are so quick to point fingers and to label our current or pasts leaders as outdated. We believe that "if we did things this way (whatever you way you think is best)" that everything would be solved. That if they would just listen to us, everything that is "wrong" would be made right. Right? Wrong!
This know-it-all attitude is just an overflow of pride. We listen to a few podcasts, read a couple of books, follow some innovative speakers and preachers, and we think that we are resourced with enough information to lead better than others.
Look, the Church has survived centuries of hardships, persecutions, lack, and abuse of power, and it has withstood every enemy attack because of God's grace and the promise that Jesus would build His church and that "the gates of hell would not prevail against it."
Yes, God will use innovative people, fearless leaders, gifted speakers, creative minds, and faithful servants, but it is He who inspires the innovation, removes all fear, gracefully purposes the gifts, and increases our faith. We need to understand that we are not better than those in history, but rather a part of the story. We can embrace new ideas and ways of doing things with humility and generosity rather than with arrogance.
I believe that when you honor that past you acknowledge all the good things God has done. So honor it but don't idolize it to the point where you want everyone to return to the "good o' days". You have to keep your eyes focused on what lies ahead.
don't be discouraged
This posts is not meant to be a disgusted berating of young leaders. My intention is only to shed some light on these few issues that I think are pressing. I don't want your leadership to falter because no one tells you the truth. I wouldn't want someone to withhold that from me either.
I pray that you're encouraged to lead with grace and humility as passionately as you can, all while using the many gifts that you have. I know that our generations of leaders bring so much to the table. Let's not error by not working at improving those areas in our lives where we put to risk the positive influence that we have.
I would love to hear what you think. Please send this to every young leader that you know and share this with them. I would greatly appreciate you sharing this. Thanks for reading!