You’re an experienced leader and you’ve learned from that experience. You have discovered some things that work and some things that don’t, and you know how to spot common difficulties along the way. You’d love to be able to share your wisdom with some younger leaders… to help those coming along behind you so they don’t have to learn everything the hard way. That’s a noble ambition, one certainly in keeping with 2 Timothy 2:2: And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. 

Encountering Resistance

sharing wisdom with younger leaders

Why are so few older leaders successful in mentoring younger leaders? You would think they’d be eager to learn from your experience, but often they seem to view us as irrelevant—or worse, with disdain. What’s going on with that? 

The answers are nuanced and many, so we’ll be spending a few weeks on this topic here on the Logan Leadership blog. You can search for “mentoring younger leaders” here to find the whole series when it’s completed. 

Often the answer to why people are having difficulty mentoring younger leaders lies in their approach. The number one problem is that of posture. Are you coming to them with the agenda of sharing your expertise? Or are you coming to them in a posture of learning—mainly by listening and asking questions? 

The key that unlocks the door: Listening

No one wants to be told what to do. Everyone wants to be listened to. There is no substitute for listening and building relationships. Younger leaders can smell an agenda a mile away. Only after you really do a lot of listening and unpacking of where they are—uniquely and personally—will younger leaders be open to receive. They need to know you’re not going to try to cram something down their throat.

I think of one young man I’m mentoring right now. He’s in his early 20s. What he finds helpful about our get-togethers is the fact that I listen and let him talk. I’m not his supervisor and I’ve never told him what to do. Rather, I’ve asked him about his goals and what he thinks he needs to do to get there. I ask relatively generic questions—because I don’t initially know what God is doing in his life or what God is calling him toward. Most likely what he’s doing right now is not the end goal for his life. Yet the skills he learns now will help him in whatever he chooses to do. 

As I ask questions and listen to him talk, he is the one who identifies that he needs help managing his time. He has all these things to juggle. I reflect back what I’m hearing him say and summarize a bit, so he knows I’m listening and that I understand what’s he’s saying. I ask, “In the past when you’ve gotten things done, what has worked for you?” His answer provides him with clues as to how to move forward. 

When to share your wisdom

Only after you have listened for a long time—and by a “long time,” we don’t mean fifteen minutes, but usually multiple conversations—only then is it effective for you to provide any input. That input though should still not be framed as advice. For example, if the young leader has identified a problem, you could say, “There are a number of ways different people approach this. Would you mind if I give you a few perspectives?” Then provide options and ideas—not advice, but a framework. Because you don’t necessarily know what solution will work best in their context. 

The more you listen, ask questions, and summarize back what you are hearing, the more likely it will be that young leaders will ask you to share from your own life and experience. Just as in virtually all relationships, when people see relational connection and investment over the long term, they become more open and more curious. And when they want to know what you think, they’ll ask. 

In the meantime, open conversations with questions like, “What do you want to talk about?” or “What do you want to focus on today?” Then serve others in a posture of learning and listening. There is no substitute for time or real interest in others. When you can take someone else’s ramblings and summarize them back to the person in a way that is helpful—linking pieces together and making connections—that’s what gives you the essential platform necessary before imparting wisdom.


As you think through how to share your wisdom with younger leaders, consider that every person is different and we all reflect God in different ways. The Discipleship Difference lays out an intentional, holistic, and relational approach to discipleship that is individualized to meet each person wherever they are. Also in Spanish.

Photo by Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash