Mentoring Tomorrow's Leaders Today
I am still reflecting on a meeting I had a few days ago, which included some key leaders from around our region. These leaders have the title of District Youth Directors, because they provide oversight to the youth ministries of churches in various states. These leaders represent nearly 1,000 churches. My level of respect for these leaders is very high because I know the value of the work they do from personal experience. Sitting in a room with these men and women inspires me and reminds me of how important it is to encourage and believe in emerging leaders.
Paul believed in young leaders so much that he invested in a young protégé named Timothy. Paul chose Timothy because he saw potential in him at an early age. Timothy is estimated to have been around 16 years old when he started leading a considerably large church in Ephesus. It takes a great deal of skill, maturity, self-reflection, and discipline to lead like Timothy did. Timothy set a standard of integrity with his outstanding character. He knew how to talk to people and lead cultural shifts through influencing people. He took the initiative and proved his ability to get things done with a work ethic that would be unparalleled by others his age. Timothy was not only a leader in the making, but he was also a teenage leader of leaders.
I can only imagine how impressed Paul was when he first met this young leader. Paul poured encouragement into Timothy for years. When Timothy was in his early thirties, Paul said to him, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity” (1 Tim 4:12). Paul words were intended to encourage Timothy to lead strong. Timothy displayed leadership skills twice that of others his age, and Paul didn’t want Timothy to shrink back under a cloud of intimidation.
Thinking back over my years of leadership, I am so grateful people invested in me. My first mentor met me when I was 13 years old and willingly accepted my invitation to play golf. The patience of that leader amazed me then and still does. Later, after receiving my degree from NU, I spent 12 years under his leadership where he gave me opportunities to learn and grow. God has called Christians to engage in leadership development. It does not matter if you are as mature as Paul or as young as Timothy; the development of people is significant to God’s church.
Lord, we want to be leaders prepared for every challenge and opportunity. We need mature mentors who are full of the Spirit to provide encouragement and inspiration to those who are developing. And for those who are growing, I pray you will protect them from intimidation or any other spirit that might discourage their full potential. Amen.