Millennial leaders can be a stellar example to existing, emerging, and prospective leaders. I thank God that I get to serve at a church with an abundance of healthy next generation spiritual leaders. Spiritually healthy next generation leaders are a catalyst to create a healthy leadership development culture. What example should a young leader give? In Paul’s letter to Timothy, a next generation leader, we discover three ways millennial leaders can be a healthy example as spiritual leaders: character, calling, and commitment.
“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit in faith, in purity. 13 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you [1Tim. 4:12-16].”
- Character [12-13]: Older people, and your peers, will not despise your youth if you live beyond your years and beyond reproach. See that they look up to you rather than down at you by being a pattern or an example to other believers. You can silence criticism by your character. When Plato, the great Greek philosopher, was accused of dishonorable conduct he replied, “We must live our lives in such a way that all will see that the charge is false.” The great evangelist, D.L. Moody observed, “If I care for my character, my reputation will take care of itself.”
There are six  specific areas of character that provide a helpful list:
- In word: your speech should reflect a tongue controlled by God.
- In conduct: walk the talk. Live a life characterized by spiritual growth.
- In love: by your love all will know that you are His disciple [Jn. 13:35].
- In spirit: excitement and zeal for Christ and His kingdom.
- In faith: a life characterized by confident trust in God and loyalty to Him.
- In purity: honesty, self-control, and chastity set against immorality of the world.
- Calling : you will always be called to be a follower of Jesus and His ambassador. In different seasons you will serve in various areas of ministry in or alongside a local church. In a sense these areas may represent your calling in a particular season. Some will ultimately be called to the role of pastor and teacher. The best way to fulfill your calling, in every season, is to devote yourself to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Know the Scriptures and continue to read and discover more of Jesus in the Bible. Share with others what you are discovering. Apply the word to your life and encourage others to do the same with grace, humility, and respect. Make the effort to learn doctrine. You are called to be radically biblical! Right doctrine leads to right thinking, right choices, and right life.
Next generation spiritual leaders, like the next generation generally, want to radically change their world and this is a noble and good cause. Social justice matters such as caring for the poor, the widow, and the orphan are important to God and should be important to His people. Nevertheless, don’t neglect to anchor your calling in a solid foundation of doctrine. It will take effort to learn the word and sound doctrine. Be a diligent worker who can rightly divide the word of God. It will require you to do more than simply read the Bible to develop a healthy understanding of doctrine or systematic theology. Identify a mentor(s), utilize resources (books on doctrine and systematic theology, commentaries, Bible College, School of Ministry, etc), and become a mentor to others sharing what you’ve discovered.
3. Commitment [14-16]: Spiritual leaders have been set-apart for a special purpose, and must commit to three key concepts.
a. Charisma : Do not neglect the gift [charisma] that is in you. God has given you a spiritual gift(s), a desire to advance God’s kingdom, and the ability to influence others for Christ. Commit to walk in your gift(s) despite the resistance from those you influence, opposition from the enemy, and the attraction of the material world
b. Consume : Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. The Hebrew idea of meditating, that was likely Paul’s reference, has the idea of contemplating night and day [Josh. 1:8]. The essence of the charge is to be consumed with God’s business. The work of advancing God’s kingdom is a balance between inspiration and perspiration. The idea of your progress may be evident to all is literally to cut forward or blaze the way. Next Gen leaders who are consumed with Christ and the work of God will be trailblazers. Their spiritual growth will be evident to those who undoubtedly will follow.
c. Careful : Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Sound doctrine and a godly life will lead others to Christ. Remember to care for your own spiritual condition so that you can care for others. As you accept the call as a next generation leader, be encouraged that Christ will work through you and your generation and bring salvation to many.
- As a next generation leader, how have you grown this year in regard to character, calling, and commitment?
- How would you like to grow this year in regard to character, calling, and commitment?
- As one who is developing next generation leaders, how can you affirm them about their example?