Listen-to-meI love young leaders. Catalyst exists to help equip young leaders, especially those under 40. I’ve invested a significant part of my life into connecting, gathering, inspiring and equipping young leaders.

But this is a tribute to the leaders over 40 who so many of us under 40 too often think “don’t really understand what’s going on anymore.”

So to all of my young, passionate, ready-to-change-the-world peers who are under 40:

SIT down, SHUT UP, and LISTEN!

SHUT UP, and LISTEN to the sages and wise mentors in our lives, in our companies, in our organizations, in our families, in our churches. Listen to the leaders who’ve been there, who’ve succeeded and failed, who’ve experienced multiple recessions, who’ve actually watched technology advance, who don’t just talk about experience but actually have it, who have been through the process of being made into who they are today.

Before many of us who think we are the next great hope for saving our generation or leading our generation in a whole new way or reclaiming our culture or just simply fill-in-the-blank go any further, we need to find the mentors and sages and patriarchs and matriarchs around us and glean wisdom from them.

Every young leader I know could use a whole lot more sage leaders in their life, especially those of us in our early 30s. In our early 20s, many times we are still hungry and humble enough to seek out mentors and find the 50-year-old-plus sages who can provide wisdom and counsel.

But for some reason, in our late 20s and 30s, especially our early 30s, we start to think we’ve grown up and got it all together. We start to think that now, instead of seeking wisdom and counsel, we should be giving it. We tend to lose the desire to learn by listening, and we start to “protect our turf” by talking—and talking more—about what we’ve done and the things that we’ve accomplished in the last 10 years of our “career.”

Many of us in the next generation of leaders need to put down the microphone and instead get out a pen and paper and start taking notes.

So, find a wise mentor, a seasoned sage, someone who’s lived a little more, loved a lot deeper, prayed a lot harder, led a lot longer. Sit down … shut up … and listen to them.

Brad Lomenick is president and key visionary of Catalyst—a movement purposed to equip and inspire young Christian leaders through events, resources, consulting and community. Follow him on Twitter @bradlomenick, or read his personal blog at

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