Whether woman or man, baptized or clergy, you most likely align with one of these two:
NEW, YOUNG LEADERS
You’re new to the leadership thing. Younger. Newer. Short track record. Genuine. You’re eager…or reluctant. You’ve been… Elected. Called. Nominated. Recruited. Convinced. Whatever! (You might be a 1,000 Young Leader) Your eye is likely on the mission of God. You know that the Father in heaven is a missionary God. He sent Jesus to reconcile a lost and dying world to Himself. And, He plans to use you.
SEASONED, WELL-EXPERIENCED LEADERS
You’ve been leading…maybe for decades. You’ve served well. You’ve led through good times and difficult times. You’re not without your faults. You’ve had your share of disappointments, too. You’ve watched the Spirit work through the Word in people’s lives. You’ve lost sleep leading. You’ve just never forgotten that God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
A WORD TO THE SEASONED, WELL-EXPERIENCED LEADERS
Simply put, fewer and fewer people know or value what you’ve done or accomplished. (A what-have-you-done-for-me-lately thing.) Like Joseph and his legacy in Egypt among the kings. Milestones. Celebrations. People who came to faith. Lives amazingly transformed. Don’t ever think that your faithful leadership hasn’t counted.
Add to that: You probably feel a bit out of step. The sea of change in our culture where ¾’s of Americans place little value on the church—definitely on “going to church”—has wearied you. Things that used to “work” no longer do.
So, three words to you:
- THANKS – You’ve made more sacrifices than anyone will ever know. Your spouse and family likely did, too. (Thank them.) Thanks for what you’ve done in front of crowds, and alone in the integrity of your own life. Thanks for taking on the hard stuff for the sake of the mission.
- PIONEER – The church is in crisis in the U.S. Most are deceiving themselves that it’s bad, but just not that bad. Have you read our vision for a vibrant 2030 church to emerge as much of the established church we’ve known, and invested in, evaporates? It may stir you or grieve you. Or both. You’ve got the credibility… to help guide the church into fresh directions. I see grandpas and grandmas concerned about their grandkids while they helplessly watch their great-grandkids being raised with no biblical foundations and no love of Jesus. They’re willing to make new sacrifices. Willing to take new risks. But they need someone to lead them. My guess? That’s you! Is it too much to ask you to learn a few new things? Particularly, how to invest in and disciple a few at a time who can do the same?
- BLESS – Endorse. Create opportunity. For the newer, younger leaders to emerge. Tell them what you see in them. Tell them you believe in them. Do the same thing that some of the best of your mentors did for you years ago.
A WORD TO THE NEWER, YOUNGER LEADERS
There’s always a tendency to think…give the impression…that you know it all. God showed up when you showed up. Folks older than you just don’t understand. Now that you’re here we can do something important.
I made that mistake, a long time ago. New in a congregation. Fresh out of seminary. After overcoming some of my own initial fears of failing, our congregation experienced some rapid growth after a couple of decades of debilitating decline. It was arrogant on my part that I thought I might know more than the enormous godly, collected wisdom of so many of the other leaders in our congregation. Mistakenly I gave the impression to some that what they had done, the sacrifices they had made, the faithful service and the generous gifts they had offered, had not been that important. I had to repent. I would have been so much farther ahead had I affirmed all of their efforts, and repeatedly said “thanks.” Going forward we were able to build on what they had done.
If you missed our summer series, you can read some of my stories of early leadership here:
- Time for Adventure and a Return to Learning
- The Leadership Adventure Continues
- Adventures in Relationships
- Slaying the “It Won’t Work Here” Mindset
- I Never Trained Anyone
So, three words to you younger leaders:
- THANKS – By virtue of your Baptism you’ve been invited into the mission of God. No matter your role or your vocation. Thanks for investing yourself and your gifts in living out the mission of God.
- PIONEER – The church is in crisis in the U.S. Help give birth to what God is doing next.
- BLESS those who’ve gone before you, some of the seasoned leaders above. Listen to them. Learn from them. Invite them to invest in you. Build upon what they’ve done.
Two final words:
–PLI Senior Leader launches in October, helping leaders develop the skills to lead larger, more complex congregations and ministries that might be in your future. We’ve made some adjustments, so even if you’ve been through Senior Leader in the past, you may want to check it out again.
–Forward this to one of the “other” leaders above. Simply tell them what you see in them. They’ll be blessed.
Thanks for leading.