Am I slowing down and my struggle with focus is just the inevitable result of getting older? Could be. Is it my adult onset ADD acting up? Sounds like a good excuse to me. Or maybe I’ve got an over-active mind that is constantly processing the overload of information constantly at my fingertips. Yeah. That’s the ticket.
Or maybe I’ve just grown undisciplined. Great. Honesty sucks.
Anyway…my wandering has been taking me to the same place for quite a while, lately. I imagine there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t spend some time thinking about how to make my days in the fourth quarter good days. Productive days. Days that make a difference. Days where I make plans to intentionally pass the mantle.
Larry Osborne is a seasoned pastor… and the author of a book called, Sticky Teams, a book on building leadership in the local church. He has some interesting things to say about passing the mantle of church leadership on to the younger generation:
In the church, says Osborne, “The seniors never graduate (at least not until they’ve become literal seniors and start dying off). They hog the leadership table, shutting out the next generation. It’s one of the main reasons that most churches stop growing and lose their evangelistic touch (and cultural relevance) around the twenty-year mark.”
And then a little later, “Leadership is a zero-sum game. One person’s emerging influence is always another person’s waning influence. That’s why making room for the young eagles is a hard sell, especially to those who already have a seat at the table.”
I know the reasons we have fewer young people stepping up to take on significant leadership in the church (yours…ours) are complex. Family demands. Work demands. Money demands. Home ownership demands. Recreational demands. School demands. Demands…demands…demands.
Finding more time in already-packed-schedules seems impossible. And if time is found, there are already many great, important things that our time can be devoted to. Fitting even more in is a crazy proposition. Taking on leadership/ownership in a church family can feel outrageously stupid. But it can be done.
My church family was started and lead by a group of twenty-somethings and early thirty-somethings. If it weren’t for the dedication and tireless work of these young couples, there would be no North Point today. These were all people with full-time jobs and families and homes and children and demanding schedules.
But they figured it out because it was important.
It can be done. The reason they became the leaders is because there were no other leaders. They were it. Without them it would have failed. That’s why I so totally agree with what Larry Osborne said. Those who currently hold the seats of leadership need to make room at the table for the young eagles.
Young eagles have huge liabilities. I had no idea how to lead a youth group when I took over the leadership at age 18. But I am a great believer in this statement by the philosopher, Plato: “Necessity is the mother of invention.” And God is faithful to make up what is lacking in the lives of those who are willing to serve Him.
We live in a culture where leadership is most often based on tenure, experience, and education. Leadership isn’t handed to just anybody. It’s earned. You have to pay your dues. You have to prove your worth. But the church shouldn’t be dictated by culture. It should influence it.
I am sensing a huge need to make more and more room at the table of leadership to those who are younger. And you don’t have to earn it. You simply have to see the need, have the faith of a mustard seed, and desire to make a difference.
Any young eagles out there who are ready to fly?