Generational Transitions in Leadership are Rarely Easy but Always Necessary
Very often, younger generations feel like older generations are stuck in their ways and have no interest in doing anything new. Sometimes, a younger generation will range from being disinterested in leadership (there is already someone doing this) to becoming hostile in leadership (everything the current leaders are doing is wrong, and I can show them a better way).
Leaders who come from an older generation can often see themselves as having put in their time – their leadership position can become part of their identity, and they feel like they are being pushed to the curb by a younger leader.
So, how can you transition your Men’s Ministry leadership team from one generation to the next without hurting people? The principles we will discuss can actually apply to any level of leadership in the church.
Start With Being Family
One of the significant challenges in our churches is that we divide people up by older and younger. Conflict between leaders of different generations is often a symptom of a deeper problem about how we really view each other.
Biblically, our starting point needs to be that we see each other truly as brothers and sisters in Christ – no matter what age we are. If you have people from different generations experiencing conflict in leadership, have a discussion with them and ask them to describe how they view the other generation. If you do not hear the words, “brother or sister in Christ,” then go to the Scriptures. Use examples from other leaders in the Bible who would talk about someone from the perspective of that type of relationship. Then, go one step further – ask them who their spiritual father is or who their spiritual sons are (for example, Paul and Timothy).
We need to train our leaders to understand and operate from the reality that we need each other. When you start with being family, then you can begin to illustrate that truth.
Respect Each Other
Once a leader sees the others as family, then work with them to unpack that some more in terms of the implications for them as leaders.
Older leaders need to be respected, affirmed for all they have accomplished, and challenged to identify spiritual sons they are pouring their life into. They should never retire but should use the gifts God has given them for as long as they can. Their role may change, but they should still always have a place to serve God by impacting any generation.
Younger leaders also need to be respected – they need to be respected for the ideas and energy they bring, but they need to be challenged to understand the impact of their actions when they push an older leader aside. Younger leaders need the blessing and affirmation of older leaders, just like Moses did for Joshua, Elijah did for Elisha, and Paul did for Timothy.
For leaders of all ages, generational leadership transitions are an opportunity to practice humility as we both learn to consider others as more important than ourselves – just like the Scriptures teach us to. They are also an opportunity for a legacy to be formed as each generation determines that their legacy will not be about their own name, but about the kingdom of God advancing through multiple generations of the same family – the family of God.