A Challenge to Young Leaders

I Love Young Leaders. Catalyst exists to help equip young leaders, especially those under 40. I’ve invested a significant part of my life into connecting, gathering, inspiring and equipping young leaders.

But this is a tribute to the leaders over 40 who so many of us under 40 too often think “don’t really understand what’s going on anymore.”

So to all of my young, passionate, ready to change the world peers who are under 40:

SIT down, SHUT UP, and LISTEN!

SHUT UP, and LISTEN. To the sages and wise mentors in our lives, in our companies, in our organizations, in our families, in our churches. The leaders who’ve been there, who’ve succeeded and failed, who’ve experienced multiple recessions, who’ve actually watched technology advance, who don’t just talk about experience but actually have it, who have been through the process of being Made into who they are today.

Before many of us who “think” we are the next great hope for saving our generation, or leading our generation in a whole new way, or reclaiming our culture, or just simply fill in the blank……. go any further, we need to find the mentors and sages and patriarchs and matriarchs around us and glean wisdom from them.

Every young leader I know could use a whole lot more Saged Leader in their life.

Especially those of us in our early 30′s. In our early 20′s many times we are still hungry and humble enough to seek out mentors, and find the 50 year old + sages who can provide wisdom and counsel. But for some reason, in our late 20′s and 30′s, especially our early 30′s, we start to think we’ve grown up and got it all together, and that now we think instead of seeking wisdom and counsel, we should be giving it. We tend to lose the desire to learn by listening, and start to “protect our turf” by talking. And talking more. About what we’ve done and the things that we’ve accomplished….. over the last 10 years of our “career.”

Many of us in the “next generation” of leaders need to put down the microphone, and instead get out a pen and paper and start taking notes.

So find a wise mentor, a seasoned sage, someone who’s lived a little more, loved a lot deeper, prayed a lot harder, led alot longer, and sit down…..Shut up…..and Listen. To them.


  1. ThatGuyKC says:

    Amen. Amen. Amen.

    I’m sub-40 leader and I’ve been worried by the trend of some young leaders to disrespect the “sages” and think they know everything. Humility and honor are crucial.

    Thank you for the reminder.

  2. This is timely!

    I know sometimes as a 30+ leader I allow passion to override reason. And I know that if it hadnt been for the prayers, advice, and knocks in the head of some older wiser saints I would be in a much worse place.

    Thanks Brad for the cyber slap upside the head lol

  3. agbanimu says:

    thanks a million for this. It does not just give a nudge but an hope that we the young leaders can still learn. Thanks once again.

  4. Roy Yanke says:

    Thanks for this post. Those of us who are older and want to engage with the next geneneation sometimes find it hard to get a hearing.
    We long to pour our experiences of the church, ministry and especially the Lord, into those who are following and taking up the mantel.

  5. Brad: Was directed here by a retweet from someone else who just read this post.

    As someone who is 58, I appreciate the call for dialogue. Roy’s comment that it’s hard to get a hearing is on target.

    At the same time, as I expand my connections to young evangelical leaders I find significant voices the church needs to hear. The world my 32 year old daughter grew up in is fundamentally different than the one i grew up in. That’s not a moral decline argument — it’s a recognition that my world was homogenous and ordered in ways that hers isn’t. And because the future is her world (and yours), we need your perspective.

    This is the first of your posts I have read, so it’s likely you regularly call for intergenerational dialogue and that this post was a corrective. So don’t take this the wrong way.

    I think our focus should be around dialogue. I find that younger leaders are creating space to ask questions about things that nagged at me but I didn’t have either the handles or the courage to pursue them. In dialogue, I’m really learning a lot about my own thinking in ways that don’t happen with my same-aged peers.

    My generation has also been very quick to assume a patronizing, seen-it-all stance. I’m sure you aren’t endorsing that but the Shut Up and Listen can strike that tone.

    I’ve come to realize that the recognition of difference is the start of dialogue. As we seek to discover overlap and new insights, we feel the wind of the Spirit moving.

    • bradlomenick says:

      thanks John. part of the reason i’m writing with this challenge is because i’m one of these younger leaders. so i’m really writing to myself and to my peers.

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