Lead On: Encouraging Teen Leadership


One of my greatest joys and passions in my work with teens is getting to see them become great leaders. I enjoy seeing them discover innate abilities within themselves, which have been there all along but have they have recently realized existed.

I can remember my first real leadership role when I was only in the 5th grade.  Myself and another boy in my class had been handpicked to be in charge of the morning announcements and the Pledge of Allegiance. It sounds like a small task now, but at the time I felt both honor and pressure to pull it off each morning. We had to be at school before everyone else to prepare the announcements, and then we had the responsibility of reciting the pledge of allegiance for the whole school to follow. It was truly exciting to be on “the big intercom,” knowing that the whole school was listening to us.

Leadership roles will sometimes be given to us, like when I was in 5th grade.  Other times, it can just sort of fall into our laps, without us actually asking for it.  And then, there are those leadership opportunities we willingly chase after.

Lead On:  Encouraging Teen LeadershipCan you be a leader, even as a teen?


100% yes, yes and yes!

Just ask David. Remember the story of David and Goliath? David, the youngest brother of eight, was just a teen himself when he defeated Goliath and became King of Israel. In their new search for a King, Samuel approached David’s father, Jesse, about his sons. Jesse presented Samuel with all but one of his sons.  Take a look at what happened next:

1 Samuel 16: 7-12 NIV

“Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.”  So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.

Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” 

I love using this Scripture passage as a parable for leadership because David wasn’t expected to be the chosen one.  God knew that he was the one that would be anointed, but no one else did. The Lord chose David specifically to be King. 

He chose him to lead.

The Lord has chosen you to lead in some way.

Maybe you’re currently serving in a leadership role in your church or school, or maybe you’re hesitating about an opportunity that’s recently fallen into your lap. Maybe you’re the one chasing after a leadership position, wondering if you’ll get it. Whatever the circumstances, rest  in knowing that God has a special plan for you, and focus instead on developing yourself as a great leader.

But what makes a great leader?

Great leaders listen to others and don’t just bark orders.  They set an example in the way they act, the way they speak, and the way they show love to others.

 1 Timothy 4:12 NIV

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

Being a leader comes with its set of challenges, but often the reward far outweighs the cost. Sometimes being a leader means going against the grain and not conforming to what everyone else is doing or thinks is cool. It can even involve you stepping outside of your comfort zone and doing something you never thought you would do.

Friend, don’t be afraid to step into leadership.  Don’t be afraid to lead others.  Don’t be afraid to discover God’s purpose for you.

As you wonder about your role as a leader, pray for the Lord’s great purposes for your life. Did you know that each of us is gifted with characteristics and spiritual gifts that match our callings? So ask God to reveal to you the strengths of your leadership skills. And ask Him to show you where He wants to use your leadership qualities, now and in the future.

Stepping into a leadership role can be scary, but just like God chose David to be King, He has chosen you to lead in some way. Leadership will look different for each person.

Questions to Think On

How does it look for you?

What or who is the Lord calling you to lead?

Have you ever been taken out of your comfort zone for a leadership role?


Moms & Mentors, how can you encourage leadership in your teen?  What leadership qualities do you see in your teen that you can help develop and grow? What challenges are they facing in leadership, in which they need you support?


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