Today is part two of an interview with Dennis Bachman, who works with younger leaders. If you missed part 1, check out last week’s blog entry. 

mentoring younger leaders

What are some common stumbling blocks more experienced leaders run into?

Impatience and making premature assumptions. Because older leaders often have busy schedules and many responsibilities, we’d like to see progress made quickly. Investing the kind of time necessary is hard, and we get impatient. As a result, we often oversimplify, quickly reading and categorizing people—which leads us into the second common problem: making premature assumptions. 

Because these younger leaders act and engage differently and have different priorities, it’s easy for us to attribute it to laziness or entitlement or some other assumption. Yet there’s a fuller picture we need to be looking at that provides needed context. These are digital people, born and raised in the digital age. It’s a different world than older leaders have ever known. When we don’t speak the language—so to speak—there’s ample room for misunderstanding and premature assumptions. 

Here’s an example that may help clarify the issue: consider how baby boomers harshly judged Gen Xers for flitting from job to job with no loyalty or commitment. Yet from my (Gen X) perspective, the world had simply changed. It was no longer realistic to expect to work for the same company for decades and retire with a pension. Likewise, sometimes we in Gen X don’t fully understand the ways in which the world has changed for millennials or Gen Z. 

How would you describe this next generation of leaders?

Generations differ from each other in what their experience was marked by. Millennials were marked by 9/11; it shaped them. Gen Z was marked by the advent of the ipad and iphone; many of them don’t remember a time before that. You have to ask what environments are native to each generation. 

Yet I like to look at life stage distinctions as well as generational divides. People in their 20s are different from people in their 50s… in any generation. I was part of a generational church. It was mainly Gen X. We were all about authenticity. Yet I hear Gen Z saying the same things about authenticity as if they’ve never heard this before. I can pull books off my shelf printed in the early 90s that use almost exactly the same words. That piece—the desire for authenticity—may be more of a life stage marker than a generational marker. I suspect the boomers were aiming for much the same thing in the 1960s. 

So consider the life stage and pair it with the generational distinction. That combination provides you with significant data. For example, if I hope to reach and work with Gen Zers in their 20s, and I don’t have any ministry efforts that seek to remedy threats to the environment, such as reforestation campaigns, I’m missing a really big opportunity. I’m also risking looking irrelevant. The same thing goes for priorities such as care of vulnerable people groups and being intentional about mental health. If I ignore their priorities, I’m subtly conveying to them that they don’t matter. 

What advice do you have for experienced leaders who want to share their wisdom and experience?

At the root, we have more of a disciple-making problem than we do a generational problem. Young leaders today want the same kind of relational investment we all wanted when we were their age. Yet we often don’t take the time required to establish the necessary trust. Without trust, there is no disciple-making influence. Our default is programmatic—because we think it will save time. But ultimately, it shallows out the disciple-making experience. 

There is no substitute for listening, mutual learning, and investing the time required to build relationships of integrity. And younger leaders hunger for these relationships. They may not trust institutions or churches, but they are willing to trust relationships when they see potential for real transformational interactions that lead to life change.

We have a lot to offer… but so do younger leaders. Let’s be curious about what they have to teach us and give them a seat at the table. 

How can you share your wisdom and experience with younger leaders? 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. 


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*.

Linear discipleship programs fizzle out quickly because every person is in a unique place in their walk with God and the circumstances of their lives. The Guide for Discipling is a choose-your-own adventure discipleship program that is engaging for seasoned Christians and those who are just starting their journey with Jesus. Also available in paperback*.