Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Age and Leadership
The church needs all three types of leaders, and they need each other. We need the church to remain doctrinally pure, and we should desire more people to become followers of Christ. However, as I continue to work with younger leaders, I am convinced that if the church is going to thrive in this emerging culture, then we who are more traditional and pragmatic need to willingly and gradually hand over the leadership of the church to the younger generation. But the Younger must also be willing to listen to the wisdom of those who have preceded them.The church often ends up lurching because we do not do a good job of training leaders and then letting them loose. Several factors at play here.
The segregation of youth from the general congregation is both a good and a bad thing. Kids want to do things us old folks don't, but they have to be a part of the whole church, they are often treated as a "church" within the church. As leaders emerge in this mini-youth-church, they think they should be able to step into leadership in the adult church. If they viewed their small leadership in the larger context, they'd learn they still need to learn.
Which leads to the second issue, most young people want serious leadership when they are way too young - I know I did. Frankly, I think it is natural, but because they are not a part of the broader church, they decide to go somewhere else to be leaders. We lose a lot that way.
But under this scenario, they come back in a revolutionary fashion instead of a transitional one, in part because the old folks keep wanting to hold the reins.
The bottom line problem is the desire to lead, to accumulate power as opposed to the desire to serve. Most young people want to lead to use it as a platform to explain why they are the way they are. Most old people want to lead to preserve what they have built. Both are wrong, we lead to serve the led.
That's the essential lesson of leadership that only age, and then only sometimes, can teach us.