The subtitle of Youth United magazine says, "understanding today's world for tomorrow's leaders." By making this statement, we at Youth United acknowledge that the young people of today are truly the leaders of tomorrow. This admission that we are targeting an audience of young people is important for you to understand. You are part of a generation that will make up the leadership of families, of institutions in this world, of the Church and, ultimately, of the government of God during the Millennium. You who are reading this article will soon be holding the offices of responsibility, service and leadership that will shape a new world!
Leadership is a big subject and surely one that will not be fully addressed in this short article. However, it should be noted that one of the most important principles of leadership is understanding the need to develop one's self for the future. At age 14 or 15, young people often have a short-sighted view of life. At that time, most teens are struggling to do well in school, concerned about their looks and how they get along with their peers, and are looking forward to getting a driver's license in the matter of a few months!
At age 19 or 20, we generally find ourselves immersed in college, getting oriented to increased academic expectations and struggling with the "career compass" of knowing where to put our energies for a future job and vocation. And now we come along and want to talk to you about being a future leader in the world! The entire subject may seem daunting, but don't let this discussion "psyche" you out!
Life is training
As you get older (like I'm getting!), you will realize that virtually all of the experiences you have in life prepare you for something else. Many of those experiences don't seem to be all that important at the time, but how many times have we heard stories of our grandparents or great-grandparents who grew up during the Great Depression having to help provide for the family? Decades later they became respected leaders in business, government and education. Little did those young people know that their experiences as teens would help them be effective leaders later in life.
The same is true in your life today. In fact, Jesus Christ taught His disciples a very similar and important principle in Luke 16. In verse 10, Christ said, "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much." Put another way, if you learn to be responsible with the smaller duties in life (like cleaning your room, becoming a responsible driver of the family car or becoming a trusted son or daughter in your parents' eyes), you will grow to have and be given greater responsibilities and opportunities in life.
Do not underestimate the importance of early learning from life and how it affects your future. It has been said that the person you are at age 18 is fundamentally the adult you will be for the rest of your life.
We need to be patient
Often, we desire to be recognized as a leader before our time. Yet, in a sense, many of you have already been leaders from an early age. The definition of a leader is one who guides or one who knows the way. Clearly, people try to guide or influence others at a very early age! As we grow up, we learn how to be responsible, to treat other people respectfully, to be honest and to develop good work habits.
These values are forged at an early age for many children and teens. Therefore, while we need to be patient as we learn, we can begin exercising the principles of responsibility, leadership and influence on others when we are very young. The key; however, is being sure that the influence and guidance that we give, whatever our age, is true, sound and helpful. Give yourself time to grow and learn from others.
Don't lose the vision
Sometimes we can think that no one notices us and that others perceive that we are still somewhat untested and still learning. Under such circumstances, we Christians can forget the purpose for which we were born! In 1 Corinthians 2, the apostle Paul made it very clear to the Church members living in the worldly and cosmopolitan city of Corinth that we can hardly comprehend the incredible purpose for which God created us! He said, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him" (verse 9).
As the Scripture says, it doesn't even enter into the mind of the average man the purpose for which God put us on this earth. Therefore, it is all the more important for you, as a young adult, to never forget the vision of the future that God has laid out for you and, ultimately, for all of mankind. Keeping that vision of the future of the Kingdom of God in the forefront of your mind is vital to learning the lessons that will aid you in becoming the kind of Christ-like leader that this world needs.
Take the challenge
Some of you may have seen the poster some years ago showing a confused group of ducks wandering around in a field. The caption read, "Lead, follow... or get out of the way!" The point is that many times in life, a group of people put much energy into what they do, but do not have the right knowledge or guidance!
Another often-used buzz-phrase is "spinning your wheels," referring to people who burn a lot of energy and time, but never seem to go anywhere! Unfortunately, we live in a world that is often this way. Mankind puts a lot of energy into solving the world's problems and trying to find the way to peace. Yet, for all of his efforts, mankind's fate is destined to failure. He simply does not have the right knowledge nor leadership to know the way—the way of peace, that is.
This is where you, the next generation, armed with the knowledge of man's true purpose and God's incredible plan, can accept the challenge to prepare yourselves for your ultimate role in leadership. Be patient; you are learning lessons in life now that will help you lead in a more dynamic way in the years ahead. Don't lose the vision of where life is ultimately leading. And despite your young age, accept the challenge of preparing for leadership—in this life and the age to come! YU