I love learning from younger leaders, but I also think we older leaders have something to say to them. Here are some thoughts I hope young leaders will hear from us:
- We were young once, too. We remember the passion and idealism of our young days. We also know experientially what happens when our zeal overshadows our commitment to lovingly guide those we shepherd. In many ways, we’ve been where you are going – and we want to help.
- We grieve the state of the North American church just like you do. We know the church is not growing. Sometimes when we speak longingly about yesterday, it’s not because we want to go back to days gone by; it’s because we remember days when the church seemed healthier and the world seemed more willing to listen.
- Many of us must admit we were not discipled well. We are often the product of churches that evangelized without a similar commitment to discipleship. If we don’t think as deeply or as theologically as you would like, sometimes it’s because we’ve not been taught.
- We need each other. To put it simply, we need each other to fulfill the 2 Timothy 2 and Titus 2 call for older believers and younger believers to learn together. We need you to help us navigate a rapidly changing world, and you need us to help you make wise choices in that world.
- Education can increase your knowledge, but life experience can increase your wisdom. We want you to be educated. We know from experience, though, that education itself doesn’t fully prepare us for leadership. We want to help you avoid the mistakes we made.
- Our opposition to change is not always opposition to you. We might be now facing life-altering change we can’t stop. Age forces us to retire. We can’t remember as much as we did. Our friends and loved ones are dying. Health declines. With all these changes happening, the one place we hope to find things the same is our church. We just want something to stay the same.
- We want you to be effective and successful leaders. Others helped us when we were young, and we want to do the same for you. When we call you our “young preacher,” we do that with pride.
- Godly obedience does not get easier. Some battles are different now, but some have never changed. We’re just as dependent on the grace of God today as we were when we were younger.
- Decide today to end well. We’ve seen too many Christian leaders fall. So, we want you to hear what we’ve learned: no fallen leader leaps into a fall. We slowly, sometimes imperceptibly, slide into a fall. Please put the boundaries up now to avoid such a fall.
- We love you and pray for you. We really do.
Older leaders, what would you add to this list? Younger leaders, what have you learned from older leaders?