10 Common Misperceptions of Young Leaders

“We don’t like denominations” + 9 other misperceptions.

Misperceptions of Young Leaders

In the past, I’ve written about misperceptions of missionaries and misperceptions of pastors. Because of my love of young pastors, I’ve interviewed and surveyed some of them to learn what they believe are misperceptions of their generation. Here are the primary findings:

1. “We are only interested in change.” They’ve grown up in a world of continual change, and it’s in some ways all they’ve known—but they genuinely want to lead change for the right reasons. Change just for the sake of change is not their interest.

2. “We don’t want older mentors.” In fact, it’s just the opposite. These young leaders deeply want an older leader to walk beside them, to hear their heart and to give them wisdom.

3. “We don’t care about the history of our church.” Sometimes the speed with which they move may suggest that’s the case, but they really do want to hear and appreciate the stories. They know they ride on the shoulders of others.

4. “We only want to climb the ministry ladder.” Some young leaders walk that way, of course, but not all. In the words of one young leader, they may have “holy ambition”—but that’s not the same as vocational ego.

5. “We’re lazy.” Most young leaders I know work hard, often working multiple jobs to take care of their families while doing their ministry. Those who are lazy typically don’t last long in ministry.

6. “We think we’ve figured it all out.” Even if they sometimes act that way, they know better than that. Every day they learn more about what they don’t know, and they welcome input from leaders they trust.

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7. “We’re all Calvinists.” That’s simply not the case. Many are, but many aren’t. Many I know who are don’t want to carry that label.

8. “We aren’t interested in pastoral care.” The problem is not that they don’t care; it’s often that they’ve never closely seen pastoral care done well. Think about it—counseling, hospital visitation and funerals are anxiety producing when you’re a new pastor.

9. “We don’t care about evangelism.” It’s fair to say this generation is deeply committed to discipleship, especially since they’ve seen the product of several undiscipled generations in the church. They may do evangelism differently, but to say they don’t do it is wrong.

10. “We don’t like denominations.” Indeed, young leaders recognize the importance of partnerships more than some older leaders do. They simply want to work in partnerships that are effective and efficient.

Young leaders, what other misperceptions would you add? Older leaders, do you agree or disagree with this list?

Chuck Lawless
Chuck Lawless is professor and senior associate dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served as a pastor for almost twenty years, and is the author of Spiritual Warfare: Biblical Truth for Victory, Discipled Warriors: Healthy Churches Winning Spiritual Warfare, Making Disciples through Mentoring, Serving in Your Church's Prayer Ministry, and Eating the Elephant. Dr. Lawless speaks extensively around the countryYou can read articles from Dr. Chuck Lawless on his personal blog (ChuckLawless.com) ( or connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook. .