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Mark Santistevan #Leadershipweek

November 2, 2009

This post was written by Mark Santistevan. I want to thank Mark for participating in this week long series of posts on leadership. Please check out his blog here and follow him on Twitter here. BTW Mark doesn’t use capitalization.

“thank you for following along with ben during this fantastic #leadershipweek. i know he has been very excited about it and his enthusiasm is contagious. i am personally very anxious to see how this week will turn out and hope to learn a lot. my name is mark santistevan, i am a bible college student about to graduate this december with a degree in theological studies: biblical languages (sounds impressive but all it really means is “nerd”). i am credentialed with the assemblies of God and plan on planting a church in west philadelphia soon after i graduate. thanks to ben for asking me to contribute and more importantly thank you for the drive to get this thing going, i am sure it will bless a lot of people and that we will all learn a lot. keep up the good work.

ben asked me to address the topic of what leadership in the church will be like when we (i am 21 so “we” are young leaders/pastors/whoevers) have become the old guys.
this is impossible to answer so instead i will give something that is more of what i “hope” it will be and what i pray it will be. things i want to address are problems i see in young leaders as well as particular advantages that they have. after that i hope to give ways that we can change the problems and capitalize on the advantages in order to provide the best opportunity for those who follow.


1) young leaders can be rebellious. i think this is probably the most common problem and the one that most others flow from. we want to do things differently than the way they were done for us. it’s not even that we are actually thinking of “the best way” to do things as much as it is any way that’s different. sometimes we even want it to succeed just so we can shove it in our old leaders faces and say “see! i was right!” this is rebellion. rebellion is sin. sin is bad.

2) being young! i look back on who i was one year ago and sometimes i want to puke. wisdom comes with age. not all the time (there are some old people that are dumb), but it is a simple fact that people learn as the grow. if you are going in a maturing direction you will become more wise. we are not there yet. we are not yet as wise as we will be. we are still rebellious. we still have many dumb decisions to make that will make us become wiser.

3) ingratitude. very often young people are not grateful. we are proud and arrogant. we do not honor the people who have sacrificed for us. we think we are the stuff.


1) old people. there are people who have been there, they know there stuff and we can learn from them. there are mistakes before us that we can avoid thanks to them. there are also great ideas that we can use from them to do things better right away.

2) being freakin’ young! with this youth comes, at least for me, a drive that is different from older people. i’m still planning on changing the world. sometimes i don’t know what to do with the amount of ideas i have and i think i’ve probably forgotten some of my best ones because i didn’t write them down. there is a creativity that comes with being young. there is an ability to identify with a generation that needs to be reached for Jesus. i could go on.

i’m sure there is a lot more to all of that but those are just the pieces that i perceive to be the biggest. i think that capitalizing on the advantages and shutting down the problems go hand-in-hand.

the key for young leaders is humility. we need to chill. we need to slow down on our love-affair with rebellion and sit at the feet of our Savior. Jesus doesn’t give us room to be proud. we suck. that’s why he came. Jesus saved us and now is using us to do that same thing for other people so that he will look more awesome. it doesn’t get much more humbling than that. to borrow a phrase from my generation, we are not the s***. more accurately, we are s*** that Jesus changed and made glorious to the praise of his glorious grace.

we need to be grateful for and seek the wisdom of our elders. one time, they were young (believe it or not). there was a day when those guys were 21 like me. they made a lot of dumb decisions that they can keep me from making if i am smart enough to ask and listen. a big step towards humility is gratitude. take some time to thank the old people who have invested in your life. they may be parents, pastors, friends, whoever. it will go a long way in showing you your inadequacy.

finally we need to rely on Jesus. that’s what holds all this together. that’s what keeps us humble. this goes for everyone, old leaders, young leaders, people who are not leaders… Jesus is everything and it needs to stay that way. he needs to be our source of inspiration – not rebellion. he needs to be our source for wisdom – not our youth. he needs to be the source of our humility – not ingratitude. he is all of those things. more importantly, he is also God. and we need to not forget that. Jesus is God. he rules.

i hope that the leaders that come after us will be able to look at us and see a humble group of old men. that they will approach me with humility and that i will treat them with respect. i hope that i can show them the areas where i have failed so they won’t make the same mistakes. i hope that i can show them the awesome stuff i’ve done so they can do things that are almost as cool. what will it look like? God only knows. what do i hope it looks like? i hope it focuses on Jesus. because that’s all that will matter.”

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Benjamin Davis permalink*
    November 2, 2009 9:57 pm

    Mark this is a fantastic post. I like the part about how young leaders should remain humble. Dare I say that, with the exception of a few good men, there are a lot of cocky “older” leaders out there?

    I would love someone’s thoughts?

  2. Lauren permalink
    November 2, 2009 10:34 pm

    I agree with Ben Mark, good post. I think it’s cool to hear younger people, like us, talk about leadership and have a valuable opinion such as yours.

    I think it is key that people remain humble like you said and part of maintaining that humility is seeking wisdom and guidance from elders like you said.

    Good post – #leadershipweek!

  3. deana permalink
    November 2, 2009 11:04 pm

    well thought-out & written, mark. i might challenge you to consider the problems & advantages you listed as true regardless of one’s age. we’re ALWAYS younger than SOMEONE, so even #2 under both applies.

    are the challenges in leadership more related to principles rather than age? i tend to think so, but we (read: i) find it easier to categorize by [fill in the blank] age, race, gender, denomination, etc.

  4. Abbie permalink
    November 2, 2009 11:06 pm

    Great post Mark, I enjoyed reading and I am sure that Ben loved having you!

  5. marksantistevan permalink
    November 3, 2009 10:13 pm

    gee thanks guys…

    there are plenty of cocky older leaders ben. but you’re a young leader. so it doesn’t matter that they’re cocky. it matters that we are not.

    thanks for reading. thanks for the opportunity. poundleadershipweek.


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