A Letter to Young Leaders

by Dan Reiland

The future depends on you. If you are a young leader, I’m writing to you. I serve as the executive pastor at 12Stone® Church. What I do affects the future, but you are the future. Next to Jesus (and really cool guitars), my passion is developing leaders, especially the Next Gen! My job is to change the world by coaching and guiding young leaders like you. I love my job! There is so much I could say, but for a short post, let me offer a few “bits and pieces” that will be of value to you along the way.

Don’t rush it.
Many young leaders I coach want to rise in responsibility faster than makes sense. You’ll get hurt that way.  You’re smart and you’re good. Okay. You have new ideas and dreams. Good. You also have time. Soak in the experience and learn deep. Think stuff through. Practice leadership—make mistakes and try again. If you lead well, I promise you will move forward in your influence. Don’t try to microwave your development. Lean into getting better, not rising higher.

Enjoy the coffee.
Have you ever met someone who is drinking a $4.00 cup of specialty coffee but doesn’t seem to enjoy one sip of it? They drink it, I imagine, because it’s in their hand. Life is short. It doesn’t seem that way yet, but you’ll blink and you will be celebrating your 50th birthday. You have dreams and drive. That’s great. Don’t let anyone take that from you. But drink in the depth of the moment. Enjoy meaningful relationships. Help others. Laugh much and be yourself.

Disagree but don’t disrespect.
This can be difficult for young leaders who are sharp and strong. It’s in you to challenge the system. Which really means, challenge the leaders above you. You have ideas, and some are really good ones. Keep thinking and speak up, but do it with respect. Those above you are there for a reason, even if you don’t see it at the moment. One day it will be your turn and you will want the same respect from those you lead.

Pay now, play later.
You must work smart and hard! You have the energy to dig deep and learn much. Don’t look for short cuts, pay the price and do what others won’t do. Don’t look for the biggest salary—look for the best mentor. We all need someone to believe and invest in us. Trade parties for progress. Think long term.

Don’t give up. Leadership is a long road. Take it one step at a time.

Dan Reiland serves as the executive pastor at 12Stone® Church, near Atlanta, Georgia. Dan loves the local church and has coached church leaders for more than 15 years. See Dan’s leadership writings at www.DanReiland.com. Dan is also the author of Amplified Leadership, available January 2012.