Thoughts for the Next Generation of Leaders


Mark Householder offers sound advice for the next generation of leaders.

 Last week Athletes in Action launched a NextGen Leadership initiative. Nearly two years in the planning, we had 19 staff members and 19 coaches from the business world taking part. It was a spectacular launch to the 18-month initiative!

I had the privilege to share some of my current thoughts and perspective on leadership and growth.

Here is a summary of my message:

1. Congratulations! You have just taken a great step toward breaking out of jail. I called it the bandwidth jail, referring to a comment that Dr. John Townsend recently made. Most leaders are living on the treadmill of constant activity and make little to no time available to invest in their own growth and development. Life on a treadmill depletes and drains the capacity to grow and lead. Our bandwidth never has a chance to grow because it does not receive the investment needed for growth. Breaking out of this personal prison is a necessary first step.

Have you taken that first big step in your own jailbreak?

2. Pay yourself first. This concept might seem selfish, but self-care is actually a necessary and biblical priority for growth and development. You have heard of the second greatest command, right? Love your neighbor as yourself. If you love yourself well, you can love your neighbor well. Investing resources into yourself on a regular and periodic basis insures that you have resources and energy for others whom you lead and influence.

Have you come to the conclusion that this idea is not selfish?

3. Make your growth and development a lifelong commitment and priority. Think about this from a financial standpoint. You save, invest and plan for future purchases and rewards. Setting aside resources every week, every month or after every bonus pays off in the long run. The same is true for our own growth and development. Committing time and resources, in the long run, makes a difference. During an average month, I set aside two days for personal growth, reflection and development. I had to share that reality three times to make the point. It is a big commitment, but one that has yielded good fruit.

If you reviewed your schedule over the last 12 months, what commitment would it reveal that you have made toward your own growth?

4. Make sure you have all the ingredients for the growth and development process. First of all, the Word of God provides the standard, the basic framework and the trajectory for how people grow. Second, the Holy Spirit is God at work in the believer, providing the power source and engine for growth to happen. Finally, people give us grace, feedback, a picture of reality and support in the growth process.

Of these three, what might be lacking in your life?

5. Prepare for the inevitable headwinds and obstacles. It is so easy and tempting to go back into prison, especially when the growth and development process seems to lack results. Remember the nation of Israel’s journey into the Promised Land from Egypt? When the tough stuff hit, they cried to go back to the days of slavery in Egypt. I have seen some research that indicates that 52 percent of released prisoners will return to prison. The commitment you make to your own growth and development will be challenged. Get ready.

When are you most tempted to return to your own bandwidth jail?


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