I am not entirely sure if the potholes leaders face are significantly different when they are younger than when they are older. I’m inclined to think that young leaders face some unique issues that some acknowledge, deal with and experience victory over and are able to move on. 

Others don’t see the potholes until much later after, they have experienced significant damage that, in some cases, knocks them down for the count and takes them out of the battle.

Young leaders may be those who are young in years and experience or a little older, but young in experience. Here are three potholes that many of the young leaders I coach (or have coached) have fallen into:

1. Pride

I have coached quite a few young leaders over the eight years I have been professionally coaching. Those that are very blessed with gifts, energy and quick and agile minds are often also dealing with a fair amount of pride. I asked myself the question some time ago: why are many young leaders so arrogant. Why doesn’t fruit, anointing and early success lead to a deep sense of humility rather than pride?

When older, wiser leaders try to point out pride to a young leader, they often write it off as jealousy and/or call it confidence rather than pride. Are they confident in themselves or confident in God who, in his sovereign grace, chooses to use them?

Pride, it seems to me, is a close cousin to independence…know-it-all, ungracious, being inconsiderate of slower moving, slower thinking people than themselves and overconfident in their thinking and decisions. It is clear from scripture that God dislikes pride and values humility (Isaiah 57:15, I Peter 5:5,6).

Perhaps the biggest issue facing young gifted leaders is pride in all its varied forms.

2. Lack Of Focus

With the seemingly boundless energy that goes with youth comes the tendency to say “yes” to too much, thus spreading themselves too thin. Because they are young, idealistic, and optimistic (to a fault), every interesting idea is worth pursuing. The good becomes the enemy of the best. Some of these young leaders don’t begin to develop a purpose statement that will guide them until they have their first round of burnout and begin to understand that they need to slow down a bit and become more focused on their unique contribution by saying “no” to a lot of things so they can say “yes” to a few things. Most of the young leaders I’ve worked with are trying to do too much. They are traveling too fast with a lot of weary, tired followers trying to keep up with them.

3. Trying To Do It All Themselves

Along with pride and lack of focus for young leaders comes the tendency to do too much themselves because they think that no one can do it as well as they can. They have a hard time delegating–entrusting others with the authority to make decisions using their own creativity to implement within the agreed-upon purpose, vision and values.

These young leaders tend to value their own thinking and ways of doing things above those they lead and are often not open to new ideas, assuming that their own ideas are superior to anyone else’s. They create bottlenecks in the organization and burn out faster than those who are willing to share ministry responsibility and decision-making.

+ So, if you are a young leader, work under a young leader, or are coaching/mentoring a young leader keep an eye open for:

  • Pride
  • Lack Of Focus
  • Doing It All By Themselves