When I was 17 years old, I was voted “Most Spirited” by my high school of 900. What this means is that I yelled the loudest at our school’s team sport events. I was a cheerleader, screaming to the point of losing my voice. I was in every skit, at the all school plays, wore costumes at every holiday and rallied groups of people to win competitions for dramas, games and art.
I was in the center and was in charge. Being in the background and letting others be in front was not my natural posture. I liked to lead.
God Directs My Steps
Through the years since becoming a believer and joining CRU, I have been called rebellious, un-submissive, and someone who takes over. That is not what was in my heart or my motivation.
I saw a need or an opportunity to try something and so I would say, “Why not? I can do that!” I was rarely afraid.
There was no conscious thought like, “I am going to rebel now.” Or, “I don’t care what my leader says; I’m going to do what I want.”
Whatever the challenge before me, whether as a new staff member in Buffalo, New York facing an uninviting audience, or tackling the language and culture in the city of Moscow, I knew God was going to direct my steps. I walked forward, knowing He would give me what I needed. It didn’t even occur to me to wait for my leader to move me forward to the next step.
Characteristics of Young Leaders
The kinds of people we are looking for in our ministry have some of these same qualities. We want them to join us in trusting God to fulfill the Great Commission because when they become multiplying disciples, they will naturally step up to the challenge and invest in others.
They will keep people moving forward and motivated towards the goal with very little input from us. Our movements will become self-sustaining because leaders like these are highly motivated to take responsibility and move forward on their own initiative.
But they can also be young, impulsive, and they might move things along too quickly. They can be difficult to control and, quite frankly, don’t agree with all we say… sometimes at first they don’t even want to listen to us because their vision is clear and they know how they want to get there.
That makes leading leaders one of the more challenging things we do as staff members, whether it is on our teams, with volunteers or multiplying disciples.
Leading a Young Leader Well
In my life, people who had the most influence were those that approached me as someone who they believed in. They set clear boundaries and spoke honestly, and graciously to me about things I could improve. They also let me have some freedom to try and to fail and to learn from my own mistakes. They entrusted me with specifics tasks and expected I would do my best. Did I always do well? No, but they gave me feedback and helped me to grow.
But more than particular actions, I think the key for me was attitude. The leaders who had the most influence in my life gave me some guidelines and then let me loose… Kind of like Jesus with Peter. Peter was impetuous and enthusiastic, ready to jump into action at the drop of a hat.
There were a number of times what he did was not the best. And yet after three years, Jesus fully entrusted the Great Commission to him and the disciples. I believe He could do it because He trusted the Holy Spirit would lead them.
Trusting God for Bigger Results
Leading leaders is about us trusting that God is bigger than our fears and failures, and He can work through someone young and impetuous. . . . Sometimes we need to let them do what they are good at. . . they might see more fruit, they might have the better idea, and they might be the better ones to lead out. It’s not easy. But I need to be honest with myself. Am I willing to be less, so that they can be greater?
Recently, I gave an opportunity to someone else to invest in a leader in a significant way. It was hard to do. Because I like investing in leaders. But leading isn’t about what I enjoy or me being needed or used. It is about letting others lead. Jesus asks us to lead by serving one another. That means getting out of the way and opening the door for others to take the helm.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via a comment below..
What about you? What kinds of things help you feel well-led?
What has helped you to lead leaders well?
Lori has served overseas for 20 years in Central Asia, Russia and Hungary. She is passionate about helping people lead and thrive in who God has made them. She serves in the LDHR team for Eastern Europe & Russia.
“My loving husband and three kids encourage me daily to be who God has made me.” Running, exploring, skiing, and pretty much anything FUN is a big part of our lives.