The decision to dive in and give direction is what defines the leader. Add to this challenge the arduous task of avoiding the “sharks” that inhabit the deep waters of youth leadership development and you quickly understand why we lose so many leaders in their early years.
So many people that were once called to lead relinquish themselves to minor and secondary positions. Some simply drop out of our organizations. They succumb to the pressures that prevents them from fully developing their innate leadership gifts.Society, the Church, and an entire generation are suffering from a lack of young leadership. We have failed to address and prepare our young leaders to handle the “sharks” they often encounter when diving into the deep waters of leadership.
1) The Shark of Royal Opposition
The young leader has to be emotionally prepared to be rejected, targeted, and then fought by people who are currently giving leadership to the organizations that the young leader desires to lead.
Just as King Saul rejected, targeted, and then attempted to destroy David out of fear that the young man would usurp his authority, so must modern day young leaders steel their resolve. They must guard their hearts against the unwarranted attacks they will receive from “royalty”: leaders who feel threatened by their rise.
Young leaders should seek out the “Samuels” in the organization: mentors to groom them for the future. Samuels can give the emotional and organizational support needed to deal with these attacks.
If there are no Samuels in the organization, the young leader must cope with attacks by dialing down their youthful naïveté. Young leaders must anticipate opposition instead of being blindsided by it.
Young leaders must anticipate opposition instead of being blindsided by it.
2) The Shark of Familial Misinterpretation
James was Jesus’ younger half-brother. He did not receive Christ as the Messiah until after His resurrection. Similarly, young leaders have to deal with being misunderstood by their own families. The emotional blow of having both their motives and methods misinterpreted by relatives can leave young leaders bleeding out in the very waters they were once destined to lead others through.
The young leader is often shocked to find rebuke instead of support from relatives they assumed would lend the greatest support and encouragement. The young leader has to find solace in the complete testimony of James. Although he did not at first believe in Christ, James came to fully trust in Him after His resurrection.
Our family members will often misinterpret our actions until after we’ve risen to a place of power and influence. Sometimes they are too familiar with us to see who we really are. That is, until we have fully become it. We can have confidence that once they recognize our position, they, like James, will become the most loyal of supporters.
Our family members will often misinterpret our actions until after we’ve risen to a place of power and influence.
3) The Shark of Premature Promotion
When Jesus was being tempted in the wilderness (Luke 4:5-8), Satan offered Him all the kingdoms of the world in exchange for His worship. Christ’s retort was clear: only the Father was to be worshiped. Thus, he rejected Satan’s “get rich fast” scheme. Jesus resisted the temptation to be prematurely promoted without a process. Often young leaders can be devoured by this “shark.” They allow people to propel them to pinnacles of prominence without going through the correct process.
Jesus resisted the temptation to be prematurely promoted without a process.
Rapid elevation doesn’t give the young leader time to develop the emotional lungs to handle the thin air of the high altitude of leadership. As a result, we watch young leaders pass out and fall.This “shark” is the most difficult to detect. It swims under the surface of our own egos and appeals to our ambitions. However, if our ambition is not checked by honest self-assessment, we can allow people to push us to places we’re not prepared to go.
Rapid elevation doesn’t give the young leader time to develop the emotional lungs to handle the thin air of the high altitude of leadership.
Jesus refused to be promoted without process. The young leader must emulate His example.Jesus’ struggle on the cross was unavoidable. Young leaders must understand that some crosses are necessary. They become the process that prepares them to lead, not for a moment, but for a lifetime.
Young leaders must understand that some crosses are necessary.
How are you developing young leaders today?