My 27th birthday is quickly approaching in September. That’s puts me squarely in my late-20s, and one step closer to being 30. I know, I know, that’s not very old at all. Which is my point. There are hundreds of leaders in the church between the ages of 18 and 30 still figuring out how to lead well. I was thrust into my first full-time ministry role at the ripe old age of 21, which forced me to learn a ton.
I certainly haven’t arrived, but I’ve got enough scars and calluses along the way to share some values young church leaders need to embrace. This next week, I’ll unpack 5 of these values.
The first value: Teachability.
Be humble. The only way to truly pursue humility is to pursue Christ, placing Him at the center of one’s life. It turns out that when I try to make myself humble, I’m only focusing on myself and working hard to be humble. Focusing lots of energy and attention on myself is the equivalent…well…narcissism. When I truly see myself in light of who Christ is, the humility comes naturally. Christ is great; I am not. An attitude of humility is crucial to teachability, and teachability is vital to being a healthy leader. Our lead pastor at our church just celebrated his 62nd birthday, and he’s one of the most teachable men I’ve ever encountered. Why? Because he’s humble; he knows who he is, and he knows who Christ is, and he doesn’t get the two mixed up.
Be curious. One of my own personal values is to be a lifelong learner. This requires fostering a deep curiosity, the willingness to listen and learn in any given situation. I’m absolutely convinced that you can learn something from every person you encounter. Note that I didn’t say “every person you encounter will have wise teachings to share with you.” That likely won’t be the case. But there is still plenty to learn, if you have eyes to see and ears to hear. The staff meeting was boring? Learn how to not run a meeting. You’re having to babysit a friend’s kids? Learn how to be patient with children. You’re serving a meal to the homeless? Learn how to listen to their stories, to be fully present. Be observant. Listen well.
Read. It’s almost a cliche phrase now, but it’s true: leaders are readers. Develop a healthy habit of reading Scripture daily, but also read plenty of other great literature. Not just theology books and commentaries; read novels, science books, cultural commentaries, memoirs, biographies, graphic novels (i.e. comic books) and any other genre. Buy a Kindle. Get audiobooks to listen to in your car. It’s taken years for me to develop some decent reading rhythms, but it’s worth every minute. Fall in love with reading.
Get educated. If you’ve never been to Bible college or seminary, sign up for a class. You don’t necessarily have to get a degree, but taking a class or two can be vital both educationally and to build a network of like-minded church leaders. If formal education isn’t your cup of tea, sign up for a conference or two. One of the best educational experiences I’ve ever had–one of the best life experiences I’ve ever had–was in the Youth Ministry Coaching Program (YMCP). If you have the resources to do this, I’ll make the decision for you: sign up now.
This is part 1 of a week-long series on young leaders in the church.
Feel free to offer feedback, push-back, or a pat-on-the-back in the comments!