What I look for in Young Leaders

We are about to roll out the information for our residency program at the Avenue for 2012.  I am very excited about the opportunity for us to invest in a large group of young leaders.  (More coming on all of this)  One of the avenue’s goals is to invest in 20 to 30 young leaders each year and to simply say follow us as we follow Christ.  Our goal is to get them prepared for ministry in many different contexts whether they are a kingdom worker disguised as an engineer or a student minister at a local church.

Here is what I look for in young leaders:

  1. Humility / Teach-ability – Does he/she respond well to coaching?  Does he/she have a humble spirit that desires to grow?  Can he/she take constructive criticism and grow?  Does he or she want to be discipled?  If the answers to any of those questions are a resounding “NO” then they may not be ready for leadership.
  2. Character -In Mike Breen’s new book Multiplying missional leaders – There is a few brilliant chapters on Character & Competency.  He defines Character as being like Jesus.  Does the young leader desire to look like Jesus, live like Jesus and act like Jesus?  The Rich Young Ruler was interested in the answers but unwilling to change his  life in order to look more like Jesus.  I see the same problem in many young people.  They know the right answers but have no desire to do the hard work required to live like Jesus.
  3. Competency -Character & competency always go side by side.  While character is being like Jesus on the interior, competency is doing the things Jesus did.  A leader who is low character /high competency is dangerous while a leader who has high character but low competency is limited.  We are looking for leaders who have & desire the character of Christ but also have the desire to live and act as Jesus did.

This diagram from 3DM has helped shape my thinking of Character & Competency:

  1. Enthusiasm –  I want energy from young leaders.  I want excitement, I want questions, I want hope, I want enthusiasm.  Our young leaders should make us young, they should make us rethink the old ways of doing things, but they should do so not in a cynical or condescending tone but with enthusiasm.  Angry leaders make wars, inspired leaders make change!  I see far too many angry young leaders who believe they have solved the worlds problems at 23 instead of excited young leaders who want to really see the church change.
  2. Problem Solvers –  I was taught at a young age that there are 2 types of leaders.  One who can define the problem & one who can solve it.  Most young leaders excel at defining the problem.  They can sense what is wrong & have no trouble voicing their dis-approval.  Real leaders don’t only define the problem but they solve it.  I don’t need young leaders constantly telling me whats not right I need them coming up solutions to get to where it is right.  My boss when I was 25 asked me to never criticize an idea unless I had a better one, to never define a problem unless I had at least one idea on how to solve it.  That advice has served me well!
  3. Family Focused –  I want young leaders who are not looking out for # 1.  I want young leader who want to be a part of a family on mission together.  I want them to understand that in a family everyone has a role & I want young leaders to buy into their role the family.  Its not enough just to be humble and serve, you also need to let your church family know how much you love them.  Say thanks, young leaders, if someone is investing in you, make certain that you let them know how much you appreciate it.  I can always tell which interns are going to succeed by the way they leave.  If they leave saying thanks, I know they will do well.  If they leave feeling under appreciated, or under utilized, I am certain their character still needs some growth!
  4. Love the Church – There is an increasing frustration for God’s church in young leaders.  I am looking for young leaders who love God’s church and believe that the church although it is flawed is still how God will reveal His, “manifest wisdom” to the world.  I know the next generation feels let down by almost everyone.  Parents, politicians, the economy, the job market and even the church.  The best young leaders I have ever worked with loved Jesus with all their heart & because they  loved Jesus they loved His church with all their heart as well.  You can’t love Christ & hate his bride, it just doesn’t work that way!

Did I miss anything?

What would you add?

What do you look for in young leaders?

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