I'm a young leader...ok...youngish. I've had the great opportunity to get to know hundreds of different young leaders over the years, and there is a common trait that most of us seem to share.
A desire to be noticed.
Whether it's working inside a church, with a missions organization or in the corporate world, young emerging leaders want to be seen, recognized and given the opportunity to lead.
So being the kind of guy that I am, I asked the question why? And here's what I've discover:
We young leaders are afraid.
We are afraid that we won't be seen, we may not be noticed and we may not get the chance to lead. We're afraid that at the end of our lives, we may have just been passed over. If we were really honest with ourselves, we might find the courage to not only recognize our fear, but figure out a way to combat it.
So what if we decided to be something other than afraid? What could that look like and what would it take? Here are three things I've begun to identify as growth areas for me as a young (ish) leader:
1. Humility - it's not all about me. The true measure of a faithful follower of Jesus, regardless of the setting or context, is not about personal development...it's about kingdom development. When my motivation is to make sure that "my gifts are being used" or "my voice is being heard" I might actually be in the business of self-promotion. And if I am, I'm counteracting the work of Jesus. A wise leader is a humble leader. If we would humble ourselves and pray, what would God do in us and through us?
2. Patience - timing is everything. It's supposed to take 40 weeks of gestation for a human being to be grown (sometimes shorter, and other times longer). It takes time for crops to grow in a field. It takes time for young leaders to be recognized for their character, competence and commitment. There are no short cuts to influence. Being on stage with thousands of people tuning in to what you have to say doesn't instantaneously make you relevant. If you want to be seen, stay in the game longer than you think is possible. Embrace the internal and external tension, it might just be a gift God is giving to you for a reason. The solution may not be running out to start a brand new hip church...it actually might be to weather the storm so that perseverance can develop the character God desperately wants you to obtain.
3. Grace - no one is perfect. Sometimes all we are meant to learn from leaders who have gone before us is how not to lead. And sometimes we need to learn how to forgive and to forget. What if we took the time to think the best about others instead of the worst? How might our conversations about the people who "don't see us" change if we see them with the eyes of grace instead of the eyes of frustration?
So what about you? Where are you at as a leader? Are you young and wanting to be noticed, or are you in a position to identify and develop the emerging leaders around you? What will your leadership legacy be? Let's choose not to be afraid of The Passover...we're not even certain it's actually going to happen, are we?
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