I preached my first sermon at age 14 and accepted my first pastoral assignment at 17. What I lacked in wisdom, I tried to make up for in energy, faith and optimism! Thankfully, I met with more encouragers than critics. Although I’ve endured my share of failures, flops and fumbles, the Lord has blessed my ministry. Now, after 40 years of pastoral leadership, I am able to see more clearly some of the pitfalls that are common among younger leaders.

Here are three mistakes often made by developing leaders and three sure ways to avoid them.

Not Choosing a Mentor
Young leaders are eager to prove their capabilities, which is a good thing. The downside of the desire to succeed can be reluctance to seek counsel or accept advice. Avoid that pitfall by seeking a more seasoned leader as your mentor. Don’t wait for him or her to come looking for you. Actively seek the wisdom of others.

Allowing Failure to Be Fatal
When you fail, as everyone does from time to time, you may be tempted to quit. Don’t! Never allow a setback to sideline you or make you question your call. First, ask yourself, “What can I learn from the experience about myself, my team, my strategy and my ministry context?” Second, get back on the field and try again! You will succeed if you trust God and hold on a little longer.

Not Counting the Cost
Young leaders may be naïve about the price tag associated with their dreams. There is a price tag associated with ministry, leadership and success. They will cost money, energy and almost certainly more time than you first imagined. Before you begin your project, make a written inventory of the proposed cost to yourself, your family and your congregation; and gain buy-in from everyone in your network. When you have counted the cost, you are far more likely to succeed.
Remember the advice of the apostle Paul to Timothy, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young” (1 Timothy 4:12). You have a resource that many seasoned leaders would love to have again—youth! This is your time to shine; make the most of it!

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