Tag: Mentor

Four Tips for Young Leaders

Young leaders live with tension. We have the pulse of the community around us, but sometimes lack the wisdom of life experience. We can see with fresh eyes the unhealthy patterns in an organization, but sometimes we focus on change that’s not the highest priority. We can have a vision for hope for the future, but that can come across as a slam to the success of the past.

It’s not easy being labeled a young leader. As I look back at the opportunities afforded to me, I have many instances that I would label “handle that differently.”

Perhaps you have felt the same way. God has placed you in a role in the marketplace, church, or school. The people around you see your desire to lead and change a community for the better. On one hand, people love your insight and ingenuity; on the other hand, you may feel that people have put you in the box stamped young.

Last week, I was sitting with my mentor, Mike. We were discussing the tensions of young leadership. He gave me four practical tips in that conversation that I thought would be important to share with you:

1. Ask good questions

One of the frustrations people have of young leaders is that they have an answer for everything. Many of us have a lot to say, but the question is, are people ready for it? When we begin by asking good questions, it helps us create a bridge of understanding. It can also lead to better responding to the feedback that we desire to give. Asking good questions slows us down and communicates that we want to listen. Wait to talk.

2. Wait to talk.

Have you been in a meeting when the same person responds first to every question? That can be off-putting and the constant talking can render a voice ignored. I confess that at times I have failed here. Why should we wait? Because it gives other people a chance to respond. Another person might give the same insight, which would allow you the opportunity to agree with them. Instead of speaking, take a moment to write your thoughts down. And be patient.

3. Compliment specifically.

In talking with older leaders, I often hear how they feel young leaders critique more than affirm. One way to lose influence is to be the person that points out more problems than solutions. When something goes well, compliment specifically with an email, text, or note pointing it out. It tells people you are listening, watching, and observing.

4. Say YES as much as you can.

Many leadership books talk about the importance of saying “NO” to things that don’t fit the vision of the organization. At times, we need to narrow our focus.  As young leaders, a “YES” can be an opportunity to build a bridge. A lot of times when we say “NO” it has less to do with vision and more to do with convenience. That’s not always a bad thing, but if you become the person who constantly says “NO” then people might stop asking you. Look at ways you can support the people around you. That’s what saying “YES” can do.

Whether you’re a young leader or not, I hope these tips help you in your role. What other tips might you offer to young leaders? Share them in the comment section below.

Photo produced by Štefan Štefančík

Who asks you the tough questions?

What’s your greatest challenge?
How are you handling that conflict?
What keeps you up at night?
How’s your marriage?
What do you sense God doing in your life right now?

You could probably add a thousand more like these. When it comes to tough questions, you stop and ask, who asks me questions like these and do I ask people around me the same types?

Creating space for deeper conversation allows you to see God at work in the larger issues. For some of us, we live life swayed by the vapor of urgent matters. For others, our minds run through these questions without answering because no one asks them of us.

When I hear people share where they want to grow spiritually, they tend to list off reading the Bible, praying, serving, and other disciplines. Taking a next a step of growth is extremely valuable; but if you want to take your spiritual growth to the next level, it requires you to share with the people closest to you what you sense God doing in you.

Let me ask you – Who asks you the tough questions? Who in your life can help you see beyond the immediacy of today to the long term important issues? Or who has permission to ask questions to draw out what consumes your mind?

People asking us the tough questions invite us to see God at work. The Gospel, the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection, invites us to these conversations. These conversations allow us to see the truth of our own brokenness and the grace of God’s love for us. God speaks through the people in our lives asking the tough questions.

Photo produced by Cole Hutson

4 Messages from Mentors

We inherently look for guides. When we come to a fork in the road, it helps to have a person in our corner. They help us perceive our relationships and situations in a way that causes us to grow. Think of them as the coaches, Sherpa, and elders. Many of us have been aided by having a mentor.

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As I look back over my life, I have noticed how God has placed the right mentors at the right time. These men walked with me during the mundane and major life transitions. They challenged and encouraged me to grow.

Throughout the scripture, we see these relationships; Elijah and Elisha, Mary and Elizabeth, Paul and Timothy. It seems that God places people in our lives at crucial moments to help us grow in grace. They don’t merely tell us what to do or take our side, but they point us to see how God calls us to become.

You might be considering finding a mentor. Many potential mentees and mentors do not begin this relationship because they wait for the invite from each other. If you sense a person could mentor you well, then take the first step in getting to know them. Conversely, if you think you could add value to a person with your experience, seek permission to mentor them.

The mentors in my life have offered me these four messages to grow:

1. “You’re not alone…”

This first message speaks of understanding. Mentors listen and recap your situations in a way you feel understood. The lie many of us have to deal with has to do with isolation. A mentor might offer their experience to you, but even more so they provide support. They help you get off the hamster wheel of your problem to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

2. “You can receive grace…”

We can critique ourselves more than anyone else. Donald Miller says this about grace in Scary Close, “Grace only sticks to our imperfections. Those who can’t accept their imperfections, can’t accept grace either.” A mentor invites us to recognize our flaws so we can receive grace to grow.

3. “You can hear the truth…”

There comes a point in all of our relationships when the truth comes out. The question about handling the truth from Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise hits us. Starting with grace, a mentor speaks the truth in love. We need to hear the truth because we at times avoid or have blinders to some of our issues. A mentor helps us shine the light on the darkness.

4. “You’re capable…”

Understanding leads to grace. Grace leads to truth. Each of these previous messages leads us to change. Sometimes we procrastinate or even when we realize the issue we don’t know where to start. A mentor does not feed us the answers to the tests of our lives. They encourage us and help us discover the steps to change. Most importantly, they partner with us through prayer so that the Holy Spirit can speak into our lives.

What messages have your mentors offered you? Share them in the comment section below.

Photo credit by Andreas Rønningen.

Articles of the Week

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Here are five articles from this past week that challenged, encouraged, and provided perspective for me.

Poppo’s Boys  by Jordan Ritter Conn

Conn shares the fascinating chapter of NBA champion coach Gregg Popovich. Prior to joining the San Antonio Spurs, he coached a small college basketball team.

What Get’s People to Want What’s Right? by Mandy Smith

Smith calls into question using “should” as a motivation especially in the church. She invites people to move away from guilt and towards love in our hearts for others.

Steadied by Faith After a Humbling Loss by David Gregory

The former moderator of Meet the Press talks about his painful departure. Gregory goes on to give insight on how his faith journey has impacted him.

The Luxury of Silence by John Biguenet

In this world full of noise, silence has come at a premium. Biguenet details the lengths people will take to experience silence.

Why You Need a Mentor by John Sowers

Sowers speaks the importance of finding mentors who encourage and tell the truth in your life. The right mentor will help you frame the circumstances of life and find your voice.

What articles challenged, encouraged or gave you perspective this week? Go ahead and share them in the comment section below.

Photo credit to Alex Wigan from Life of Pix.

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