I love investing in the next generation of leaders. They are our future. I think we have an obligation to share our experiences and help them learn from our mistakes. This is a huge purpose of this blog.
Most of the ones I invest in these days are younger pastors—or those who want to be some day. I love it. It's honestly what fuels me most.
With this in mind, I occasionally like to share some principles and practices of leadership I've learned along the way. I've written more to pastors and ministry leaders in other posts—and more about keeping your relationship with Christ first and foremost—these are more general thoughts.
Here are eight words of encouragement for young leaders:
1. Become an early risk taker. It's seems more difficult the older we get to take bold moves. I hope I keep doing so. I look at Moses and Abraham as examples, but I know the meaning of "comfort zone" now more than ever. Develop into your personal DNA early, you will always be willing to walk by faith.
2. Learn to enjoy and be content in today. Don't concentrate so much on the next level of achievement you miss the lessons of today or never experience joy in the journey. God is doing something now—today—even as you wait for the next great thing. Looking in reverse, today will probably seem more valuable in your development than you can imagine now. And, every season of life is like this.
3. Manage your time wisely. It passes quickly and you don't want to regret too many missed opportunities—or too many avoidable mistakes. Grace is amazing, but there are moments in life you only have access to once. Then there are those really dumb things we do we wish we hadn't. If your long-term goals and objectives for life scream "this will be a decision you will regret"—don't do it!
4. Be inventive. We need innovation in leadership. Take us places you see in your dreams, where God is calling you, but we can't seem to find our way there. It will be hard, there will be resistance, but there's a value in youth and leadership. We need you and your unique contribution.
5. Find the right people to influence you. Don't allow the negative words in your life to crowd out the positives. Concentrate more on what God is calling you to do than the naysayer's personal agendas. You'll struggle with this all your life, so the sooner you discipline yourself the better. Just like Elijah, you probably have more supporters than you think you have. Complainers simply have larger vocal chords. Hang around positive-minded people—people you trust and who trust you—then let them speak into the deepest and darkest places of your life to help you continually mature as a person and leader.
6. Live in stored up praise. You'll seldom know the good you are doing. Keep going even when the cheering crowds are silent. Find your affirmation in God and His truth spoken to you. Know who believes in you! Know your self-worth is not found in your performance, but in your unique design by your Creator. You have value to this world!
7. Keep growing personally. Spend as much time on personal development as you do trying to develop others. Read THIS POST for an explanation, but basically you will need all the strength you can muster to lead well. Stand strong. Learn. Read. Develop. Find a mentor. Be a mentor.
8. Keep pride and arrogance in check. This is huge. Never believe you've finally "arrived." As soon as you do—you're living in dangerous territory. You will always need people to speak into your life. Be wise about to whom you listen, but always be teachable. There will never be a time you don't have something to learn. I hate to admit it, but I was in my 40s before I really began to know how much I didn't know.
By the way, all of this wisdom is just as true for my stage of life, but somehow I feel if we can catch leaders early they may avoid some of the mistakes I have made. I love your generation for its teachable spirit. Keep going! You're doing great!
What words of wisdom do you have for the younger leader?
Ron Edmondson is the senior pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. For the original article, visit ronedmondson.com.
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