One of the most common stereotypes of today’s young leaders is that they feel slightly entitled to certain things. People, of course, say that about every generation. However, as a person who has the chance to build relationships with a lot of young leaders, I’ve realized that many millennials believe they should reach a certain level of leadership or a higher up position before they reach the age of 30.
While I admire the drive, the danger is that they feel like they don’t want to “waste their time at the bottom” or learn from the experiences that you can only earn through hard work and time.
There is a severe problem that arises when a person reaches a position of influence without developing the maturity that comes from spending time learning the nuts and bolts of what makes up a great organization. In his letter to Timothy, Paul emphasizes maturity as an essential quality for leaders. He writes to Timothy in the context of the church, but his truths are necessary for all positions of leadership in which people serve:
“He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.” – 1 Timothy 3:6
Paul warns that reaching a level of high influence without developing all the proper tools that come with maturity can be dangerous. He knew the value of working, growing, learning, and pruning before we have a position of authority. And don’t get me wrong; no matter high up we go in an organization, we will always continue learning and growing. We’re never done growing in our leadership. More importantly, Paul notes that quick success can lead to pride and false conceit. Just in case we didn’t realize how dangerous this could be, he adds, “…and fall into the condemnation of the devil.”
In case we forgot, Paul reminds us that pride was the devil’s downfall. Therefore, we must guard ourselves against anything that could cause a sense of pride. Young leaders must learn that early success is relatively rare and can be dangerous.
It may be difficult to train yourself to embrace the early parts of your career that seem a bit mundane, but it’s the best thing you can do to prepare yourself for the future. Learn as much as you can from the leaders in your life, at your workplace, church or wherever. Respect and learn from them, and the time it took for them to reach their current level of leadership. The best way to set yourself up for future success is to embrace every opportunity and take advantage of every moment you have to learn, grow and mature.