The New Young Christian believes in celebrating young leadership who are doing it right and celebrating other leaders who are championing the next generation. This post is proud to honor Tyler Tatum (@tylertatum) who serves as the Director of Fuse at Newspring Church. Tyler is an incredible leader who does a great job of teaching, challenging and encouraging other young leaders around them. His advice for raising up young leaders is gold.
His re-post is below:
There is nothing more exciting than seeing a young leader begin to realize the potential that God has placed in them, and nothing more heartbreaking than seeing them discouraged or shipwrecked. Over the years, I have learned some guiding principles when it comes to raising up these leaders. Here are just a few of the key principles I’ve learned when it comes to helping young people step into leadership and to help them avoid shipwreck in their leadership journey.
1. Identify God-given gifting and potential
Often when it comes to young people, there is nothing more powerful than the words that we share with them. We have the ability to inspire, challenge, build up, and tear down. Years ago, I realized that my words began to carry a lot of weight when it came to the young leaders that were around me. I could use my words to try to get people around me to work on a project, or rally to a certain cause. I even had influence over the decisions they made in regards to where they would serve or lead in the church.
I quickly learned that the only way to truly set someone on the path of success (which every leader should be trying to do) was to use my words not to try to lead them to what I thought they should do or to serve me, but to try to encourage them to follow what Jesus is calling them to do. I believe that as leaders, God often will give us insight into how he has gifted the young people around us and that is why we have to make sure that we are first and foremost listening to Him. I have found that when I am spending time with Jesus on a regular basis, I am more likely to see people like He sees people, and therefore I am able to see God-given potential to speak into them. Trying to use our words to persuade young people to do what we want them to do or what makes the most sense in the worldly way of looking at things is a recipe for disaster in their leadership journey.
It is a powerful thing when we can see the gifts and purpose God has placed inside of a young person and as we begin to speak that into them. This is why our relationship with Jesus is foundational in our ability to raise up those around us. We cannot lead someone to a place that we are not going ourselves. We cannot truly love and place young people in front of ourselves if we are not hearing from Jesus on a regular basis.
2. Keep Proper Perspective
Let’s be honest, we commonly overvalue what God wants to do in the short-term and undervalue what God wants to do in the long-term. This is especially true when it comes to raising up young leaders. I often get so focused on how I want to see people grow in the short-term that I forget that they have a whole lifetime ahead of them for God to grow them as leaders. This life thing is a marathon, not a sprint.
The problem here is that I get so focused on the short-term that any mistake that someone I’m pouring into makes feels like it has doomed their ability to lead. The reality is that young leaders, especially if they are teenagers, are going to make mistakes. In fact all leaders will make mistakes. When it comes to young leaders, it is not only probable that they will make mistakes, it is necessary for them to make mistakes in order to learn how to grow past them and failure and to become the man or woman that God has called them to be. So the principle here is that I am not trying to see a young man or woman do a lot of great work or have a lot of accomplishments in the short-term (though that’s always nice), but rather I’m interested in pouring into people in such a way that they are still loving Jesus, and loving and leading others well in 20, 30 and 40 years from now.
This principle helps me not to overreact when someone I am trying to raise up as a leader makes a mistake. When we keep a proper perspective we are able to lead by showing someone grace rather than trying to guilt them into doing what we want them to do. Although it may seem scary, if the Bible is true then grace is a much greater motivator for the young people we are raising up than trying to make them feel guilty when they don’t live up to our expectations. Aren’t you thankful that that is not how Jesus leads us?
3. Challenge With Real Responsibility and Clear Expectation
Let me assure you of this: the young leaders you want around you want to be challenged. Challenge is how we grow and anyone who is going to do anything significant wants to be challenged. From my experience, a leader who struggles with challenge also struggles with surrounding himself or herself with the type of leaders that can change the world. They typically settle for the boring, plain, and mediocre that will often make them feel warm and special and rarely actually go out and accomplish anything.
If you are raising up an actual leader they want to be challenged. Not just challenged by your words, but also challenged by the responsibility that you are willing to give them. At some point we have to stop saying we believe in someone, and actual believe in them by letting them take ownership of something we are responsible for. One of the best tools we have for growing young leaders is our willingness to let them have some true responsibility. Also let me be clear, true responsibility does not tell them they are responsible for something, and then we go behind them to micro-manage them to make sure it doesn’t fail. It means that if they don’t follow through, it fails and we have to take the blame (after all great leaders give the credit and take the blame). Giving responsibility requires 2 things:
1. Clear Expectations - If we want to set someone up to win then we have to clearly lay out for them what the win looks like. If we have the right leaders around us, we will be able to lay out what it looks like to win, and in my experience, they will figure out a better way to get there than I could have. When we don’t set clear expectations and boundaries, however, we are setting up young leaders around us for failure. We are actually giving them a test that they aren’t aware they are taking, and I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this as a leader yourself but it’s a pretty terrible place to be.
2. Good Feedback - If you aren’t willing to give feedback on how a young leader is handling responsibility then do not waste your time delegating the responsibility. People want to know how they are doing at what it is you’ve given them to do. This includes positive and negative feedback. When we see someone knocking the ball out of the park we have to make sure that we are letting them know that we see them and we are proud of the job they are doing. This helps them know they are noticed, cared for, and it stores up good equity to set you up for providing negative feedback too.
One of the most unloving things we can do for someone we are trying to raise up is to see them under-perform and never speak to it. These conversations are not fun, but they are necessary if we are going to see our young leaders attain all that we know they are capable of. Think back to the conversations where a leader in your life has helped you grow and how thankful you are for that honest truth. These conversations are really the meat of leading someone well and the only way to unleash what we see God has put inside of them, because unless their name is Jesus they are not going to do it perfectly.
At the end of the day, the way that we raise up leaders is going to determine the long term health and stability of our organization. If we are content to have a lot of young folks that admire us, but we never push them to grow to be better leaders than we are, then our church or organization will have an expiration date. At least it will have an expiration date on being great. However, if we are willing to put in the time and effort to raise up the young leaders that we know God has made to be great, walk through the process with them over time, and give them real opportunities to learn, then the best truly is yet to come.
If you've enjoyed reading this post, I hope you'll love Perry Noble's new leadership book The Most Excellent Way to Lead. You can visit mostexcellentwaytolead.com to get your copy today!