I used to be a young leader but now at 35 (one month away from 36) I look around and find myself surrounded by leaders who are younger than me. It’s an odd feeling but it’s also encouraging to see how God is raising up the next generation and using them in huge ways. Next week one of my former students will be our speaker at an event we do every year in our student ministry. This was a kid I was investing in when he was a middle school student. There’s no greater joy than watching God use young leaders. At our church we have made an intentional effort to empower young leaders and along the way we have learned a few things about how to and how not to lead them. Here are a few reminders when leading young leaders who are in high school, college, or are young professionals…
- Young leaders are in process // We have to remember that young leaders are on the journey and are still figuring out who they are. Who a young leader is today is not who they will be a year for now. We have to be patient and keep investing because they are in process.
- Young leaders will make mistakes // Empowering young leaders can get messy. They will make bad choices. Sometimes they say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Sometimes they really make some bad mistakes. It’s our job to walk them through the consequences and push them forward as they heal. A young leaders current mistake has the potential to teach a lesson for a lifetime.
- Young leaders need the freedom to question and dream // We have to give young leaders room to question and tear apart our organizations (respectfully of course). Jesus is the only thing that is unchanging! Sometimes young leaders need a break to get away and think. Sometimes they will not agree with the direction we choose to go with the ministry and that is fine ad they are fine as long as they have a voice.
- Young leaders need real opportunity and responsibility // At some point you have to choose to give young leaders opportunity but with that you also have to give real responsibility. Leadership is hard work and it comes with real responsibility. We help young leaders grow when we give them both and see what happens.
- Young leaders need mentors // Every young leader need someone to hear them and someone to push them. They have questions that they need to process with you. They have ideas that need careful shaping. They have dreams and need direction. Mentors walk with young leaders and simply remind them they have someone in life that believes in them.