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A Note to Young Leaders: You Don't Know It All

Being a “young leader,” I am definitely so excited about the incredible things our generation is doing in the world today.

Whether on the platform of ministry, leading social enterprises to create good, or living out our faith in new ways in the public square, we are doing some pretty remarkable things.

We’ve really got the entire world at our fingertips and are able to connect with people around the globe like never before. We have more available to us than any other generation before us, and our potential is really limitless. We’ve seen the landscape of our world be flattened by technology, have lived through massive cultural changes, live in new economic realities, and are able to go and do things that generations before us could have never dreamed were possible.

We  are poised to do incredible things to make our world a better place and see more people come to know Christ and be connected with the local church. We take seriously the words of Christ to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

It’s an amazing thing to witness and something that’s humbling to be a part of.

God has created, chosen, and called us to walk on this Earth for this time in history…amidst times of massive change, great need, cultural revolution, and technological advancements, we’ve been given the keys to shape the future. That’s a pretty tall order.

In our passion and zeal to change the world and create good…with our commitment to Christ and desire to lead the Church forward…and with our drive to go against the institutions or “the man,” let me, as one of you, humbly confess, we don’t know it all.

Now I know we all share a lot of doubt about what we’ve inherited. We can be disillusioned by faith and have distrust for the church as we know it. We can be dissatisfied with the way things have been done and want to do things dramatically different. I know that it’s easy to write off the past and press forward to create a better future. I’ve felt the pain of being looked down upon because I was young. I know the frustration you can have if people who are older or who are in leadership over you “don’t get it.” I know sometimes it would be easy to just want to abandon the trail and blaze your own path. I get it.

But I’m also learning [and sometimes the hard way] that there is a lot we don’t know. There’s a lot we haven’t experienced. There’s a lot we don’t fully understand. There’s much, much more we have to learn. In our youthful exuberance, we can miss some vital wisdom.

Simply put, we need to be teachable. And we need mentors.

We need to be willing to be teachable and to be able to take correction. We need to pause in the midst of creating great output and get input. And we need those who are further down the path to invest in us and impart wisdom they’ve learned along their journey.

We need men and women in our lives who have lived a little bit longer and experienced more to help us as we navigate our journeys and pursue our callings. We need people to point out our blind spots and lovingly correct us and give us words of caution. We need to admit we don’t know it all and pursue wisdom from those who have gone before us.

We stand on the shoulders of giants, and what we have today is the result of the faithfulness of those who sowed their lives, passion, and energy into us and the churches, organizations, and workplaces where we lead today.

We do a great disservice to ourselves and to God by thinking we know it all or that we have all of the answers. While we are poised to be used by God to do great things, we cannot neglect the need we have to be discipled and mentored by those who are wiser, older, and more experienced.

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Tim Schraeder is a church communications guy who is passionate about seeing the Church communicate and tell its story more effectively. For over 10 years he’s served churches as a communications director, most recently serving on staff at Park Community Church in Chicago. He presently serves as the co-director for the Center for Church Communication and is a branding and communications consultant with Church Solutions Group, working with churches and organizations across the country.