Nothing so dates a man as to decry the younger generation. -Adlai E. Stevenson
Young people…they have more and expect more than any previous generation. It’s easy to dismiss them as entitled or just plain immature. But let’s not forget they’re the future of the church and hold an incredible capacity for changing the world. As the current generation of leaders, it’s our job to empower and inspire this generation to make a difference.
Our Leadership Summit in Zimbabwe gave us a glimpse into the power of this inter-generational exchange of leadership. Craig Groeschel, Geoffrey Canada and Mark Kielburger spoke powerfully on the importance of building into this generation. These talks were so impactful, one of the Zimbabwean business leaders in attendance immediately gathered a group of 150 young adults aged 18-30 and challenged them to get involved in community programs. This gathering took place just two days after the Summit and was attended by the Deputy Prime Minister who personally addressed the young adults using materials from the Summit. The response was so positive, local leaders plan to make this a regular component of their local Summit experience.
Craig Groeschel gives this advice to the leaders of tomorrow:
- Honor those who have come before you
- Don’t be afraid to lead up
- Learn to be under authority with integrity
- Serve those over you faithfully
- Create ongoing feedback loops
- Seek out mentoring from those you respect
As a leader in your church or community, you need to respond to young leaders following this advice. You need to support them, mentor them and provide an example of integrity and faithfulness worth following. As you think about your own leadership legacy, consider the following:
- Who will you hand the baton to?
- What opportunities have you created for upcoming leaders?
- Is a young leader in your community inspired by your long-term vision, or are they more likely to try something new?
Identify 4-5 leaders in your community. Build into them. Encourage them. Equip them for impact. The future of the church depends on it.