I’m one of those guys who is actually older than I look. This has its pros and its cons both. One of those cons is that I believe I’ve often been seen as the “child” in the room of adults in both ministry and work settings. One of the sorta-pros is that as people realize I’m not mentally a child, I get the, “Oh this kid has a lot of potential to be a leader someday when he grows up! He’s advanced for being such a young kid!”
Well, I choose to take it as a “pro” I suppose…
The reason I’m telling you this though is because over the years, throughout my twenties, I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the concept of earning trust and respect as a leader.
Like many young men, I’ve spent a fair share of time wondering things like, “What would it take to be trusted with this responsibility?” or “How come I’m not given authority or free reign with this or with that?” Ya know, “How do I become a, if not the, leader I think I can be?”
I would have to admit I’ve had my share of both poor motivations and poor executions in regards to this endeavor. The older I’ve become the more I’ve realized these and learned a few things about them.
Plus, the older I’ve become (and the longer I’ve served in a place and with a people enough to demonstrate and earn an ability to lead) the more I’ve observed other young men asking the same questions and jockeying for the same trust, respect, promotion, authority, and ultimately, leadership.
While there are certainly no two guys the same and there are no shortage of issues we have as young men, I’ve noticed at least two major issues that are major common in young men and create major hindrances for becoming a trusted leader.
Two Issues We Have To Deal With To Become A Trusted Leader
I don’t know it all, and these aren’t the only two issues by any stretch, but they are two of them, and they are two of the biggest and most common that I’ve experienced in myself and seen from others. So this would be my advice to you and me both.
We have to play nice with others.
Seriously, you can’t be mean or flippant and expect people to want to follow you much more promote you or trust you to take on something they have authority in. You need to get along with people!
People that follow a harsh-spirited, sharp-tongued, continually agitative person are only people who do so to feel okay about their similar qualities. These aren’t people you want to be around.
The fear of the reality that you’ll only attract a wolf pack that will eat you the second you look weak shouldn’t be the primary motivator not to act this way, but, it should help motivate you nonetheless.
Sadly, this inability to play nice with others and have an empathetic, caring, loving, and even fun personality is way too common in young men who know scripture well and would associate strongly with well developed theological views.
Too often, knowing more facts about God leads to guys acting less like God acts.
This characteristic will never contribute to becoming a trusted leader.
We have to take input.
Having the humility to take input from others is definitely a related aspect to playing nice with others, but it is a separate quality in my view. I’ve known and observed many folks who can strangely seem really kind to others, even go out of their way to make others feel loved, valued or even needed, and yet rarely take input from anyone on matters in regards to themselves or their work.
It’s a natural, and wrong, tendency to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to, and it’s a natural tendency to attribute better motives and intentions to ourselves than we do for others.
So, knowing this about ourselves, should cause us to strive hard to develop a default setting of “always seriously consider someone else’s input just in case it is actually well informed and well motivated despite whatever my feelings are” rather than being dismissive or defensive.
Even if we didn’t have God’s word telling us that “without counsel plains fail, but with many advisors they succeed” (Prov 15:22, Prov 11:14), it doesn’t take long to realize from life that everyone misses things, makes mistakes, acts carelessly or ignorantly, has a proclivity to sin, selfishness, and self-destruction, and so on.
So, instinctively, we all are drawn to people who continually demonstrate they can humbly take input.
Besides, none of us have the time to learn everything about everything no matter how capable you might be of doing that. I’ve tried. I’ve failed. It’s impossible. Don’t tell me otherwise. (I’m just playing, but really…)
A person who receives input well, draws people around himself who give good input and take input themselves. You’ll maximize your effectiveness and that of those who follow or work with you.
People follow, and do a lot to promote, people who play nice with others and humbly take input from others. So besides being good for others, it’s certainly best for you as well.
We may have strong skill sets, gifted vision, grand goals, lots of knowledge, and even be extremely hard working, but if we’re not able to play nice with others and take input from others, none of our other qualities will ever effectively amount to much.