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Raising Leaders – from the other side

July 28, 2011

Blogs, books or articles on mentoring, discipleship, directing, whatever you want to call ‘raising up a new leader’ are in abundance.

But not everyone agrees on what works, what it should look like, or how it should be done.

I can’t tell you the right answer.  BUT, I can tell you what has worked on me.

Yes, on me. Not for me.

This is from the future leader side instead of the leader side.  The one being invested in rather than the one doing the investing.  I’m only 21 years old, so for me to try to add to the conversation about how to do it would be pointless, but I can simply say what has and hasn’t worked on me.

1. Be intentional when finding someone to invest in. But don’t force it.  People who have wanted to invest in me have come in three forms: those who pursue me, those who force me to meet with them, and those I’ve pursued.  The whole goal is to raise up future leaders.  That means the should be able to take some initiative. Some. (We’re still learning).  Find someone with potential, get together, and build the relationship, but at some point leave the ball in their court.  Say something like, “If you want to do this again let me know.”  It’s okay to bring it up again, but let them take some initiative.  Some.  Not a lot.  It will make a big difference.  If it’s something they want, it’s something they will benefit from.  If they feel obligated to come, they come with the wrong perspective.  When people force me to meet with them I often see it as a commitment I need to follow through on instead of an opportunity.  This doesn’t mean always leave it to them, it means have a balance.  If they aren’t willing to even express interest (they don’t even have to plan the get together, just show they want to) you can probably find a better potential leader.

2.  The little things.  They saying “the little things make a big difference” is true.  Every moment is a teaching moment.  Whatever situation your in, take the opportunity to speak truth into that person’s life.  It doesn’t need to be planned, it doesn’t need be long, it doesn’t need to be profound.  Some of the things I remember the best were one line pieces of advice.

3.  Push them.  Expect a lot.  But be gracious if the don’t always make it.  If you don’t expect and ask for a lot, you will never get it.  Young people need to be pushed.  Encourage them, let them know you think they can do it and see what happens.  Give them responsibility.  It’s good for them.  If we don’t learn it now when will we?

4.  Help them understand themselves.  Understanding myself has helped me make huge steps as a leader.  Help the figure out their strengths and weaknesses.  What are they gifted at what are they not? What do they enjoy doing?  What seems tedious.  Then help them see how this plays into their leadership style.

5.  Take chances.  People have taken some crazy risks on me.  And it’s helped me exponentially.  Give them opportunities that will stretch them.  This helps them develop skills as well as figure out more about themselves.  Maybe they do well, maybe they bomb.  But no matter what, they learn.  They may realize this is or isn’t for them.  They learn what areas they have to work on to improve for next time.  And finally, they learn what it looks like to actually go through that whole process.

What has worked on you?  Would you change or add anything to this list?

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