Let me start this post with two caveats: first, young leader, know that I love you. I’ve devoted much of my life to investing in you and sending you out. Second, know that I plan to address older leaders tomorrow, too, as all of us must continually check our hearts. If you’re a younger leader, be aware of these problematic signs:
- You’re seemingly inches away from giving up on the institutional church. I know the church is far from what we’re supposed to be, but the church is still God’s plan. If the apostle Paul didn’t give up on the Corinthian church (see 1 Cor 1:4-9, 16:24), we have little reason to give up on today’s church.
- All of the influencers in your life are your peers. When that’s the case, we have nobody with life experience and tested wisdom speaking into our lives. Sometimes, frankly, that’s because we don’t believe older people have anything relevant to say to us—and that’s arrogance.
- You have a track record of “church hopping.” You’d never call it that, but you move from church to church to church because you can’t find the congregation that is what you believe they should be. You live in spiritual frustration because no church seems to “get it” like you do.
- You spend more time fighting for your theological “ism’s” than you do sharing the gospel with non-believers. I’m convinced with you that theology clearly matters—and a bad theology will hardly lead to evangelism—but some young leaders are wrongly on a crusade only to convince others of their positions. They debate other believers more than connect with non-believers to lead them to Christ.
- You network with influential leaders not because you want to learn from them, but because you want to climb a ladder. This one’s hard to admit, but many of us have been there. We set our sights on leading the largest church and speaking on the biggest platform—and we wind up using others to try to get there.
- You study much, but give little attention to your spiritual disciplines. This combination is a dangerous one, as it both illustrates and fosters a pride problem. The former says you want to know a lot, but the latter says you don’t need to spend a lot of time with God in the process.
- You send your resume only to churches of a particular size, often in a particular region. I understand there may be important factors that lead to these decisions, but many young leaders who set these parameters send their resumes only to larger churches. They can’t fathom God’s placing them in a small, out-of-the-way setting.
Younger leaders, I’m grateful for you and pray this post is only helpful to you. Older leaders, many of us have lived out what I’ve described above. Only the grace of God makes it possible for any of us to serve Him through His church.