It is natural to downplay what we do not possess. It is one of our first defenses when we are faced with our own inadequacies. We see our age – whether young or old – and affirm it as a huge advantage. We also look at our experiences and compare them to what other’s have done.
And as we go about our comparisons we reduce those around us; limiting their contribution in our minds and our spheres of influence. One of the places where this is happening in dramatic fashion is the realm of leadership. In this liminal time of transitions where everything is being reframed around new philosophies, financial realities and technologies, there is an unnecessary struggle for leadership.
Young leaders have grasped a vision for how the world must be reframed in these new times. They bring passion and excitement to their roles as they seek to remake their industries, nonprofits and churches based on the new rules governing our world.
At the same time older leaders have a wealth of experience and knowledge that they seek to bring to these unstable times. They have walked through tough times and good times. With both they have learned how to lead and develop organizations that stand the test of time.
Both of these perspectives are true, powerful and vital to the organizations trying to thrive in today’s realities. But when young and old leaders sit in the same room, they are not affirming what the other brings to the table. In fact, I mostly see disconnects, discouragement and divisiveness. Older leaders refuse to validate the passion and new thinking of the young. And young leaders refuse to affirm the experience and context that older leaders bring to their roles. And as each downplay the other’s significance, they wipe away any opportunity to leverage both passion and experience together for the good of the causes they represent.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Whether you are a young leader or an older leader reading this post, you have the opportunity to stand firm in your identity in Christ, confident in your value as a Kingdom leader and humbly extend your hand to another. By affirming what other leaders bring to your cause and encouraging them in their role, you will see amazing synergies begin to take shape.
If you are ready to do that, I would like to recommend that you read the following two posts by Jonathan Pearson, a younger leader who serves as Communications/Online Pastor for Cornerstone Community Church in Orangeburg, SC. I love his heart to help younger and older leaders communicate and engage.
If you are a younger leader, read his post called “3 Things Younger Leaders Need to Say.” http://jonathanpearson.net/2011/05/17/3-things-young-leaders-need-to-say/
If you are an older leader, read his post called “3 Things Younger Leaders Need to Hear.” http://jonathanpearson.net/2011/05/12/3-things-young-leaders-need-to-hear/
Make sure you read both posts and ask yourself how you can foster a healthy leadership dialogue.