Momentum (Christ – centred, Spirit – empowered, Mission – focused)
It was both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. I found myself on the back of my four-year old grandson’s quad. He was in the driver’s seat! He was beaming with delight as he revved the engine and took off, while I hung on for dear life. He was in control, he was setting the course, and my role was to cheer him on and to offer words of advice, but most importantly, to learn to enjoy the ride. This was no small task. I found myself having to fight the temptation to grab the wheel and take over; after all, I was far more experienced. However, releasing control was my new posture and without it, this newly emerging leader would stay in the shadows.
This picture is a metaphor for the challenge facing leaders; it is the challenge of handing off the leadership reigns to the next generation. Our great danger is hanging onto control for too long and failing to fan into flame the leadership gift that is emerging all around us.
George Bernard Shaw said, “Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” This is part of the reason that it is so hard to let go.
I am very thankful that I grew up in a church family that was very alert to emerging leaders. I was in junior high when several older leaders in our church began to speak into my life. They commented on my energy and my enthusiasm and blessed my efforts to exercise small leadership initiatives. They were willing to make room for me at the leadership table and expressed value for my ideas and opinions. I felt affirmed, encouraged and inspired.
They were, in the words of George Bernard Shaw, “burning as brightly as possible” and were able to allow the heat of their lives inspire me. What an amazing gift I was given.
Our challenge as leaders today is to become very intentional in identifying, encouraging and valuing the emerging leaders whom God is forming right around us. As leaders, we should always be on the lookout for the next prospective leaders. Let’s find creative ways to include them in the leadership conversation. Let’s tell them about the gifts we see in them and allow them to exercise their leadership abilities in a safe, non-judgemental environment.
One of our greatest legacies will be to see the next generation empowered and unleashed to lead the church in advancing the Kingdom of God. Dale Burke, in Less is More Leadership, says, “Nothing feels better than seeing a vision that you helped birth be passed on into the capable hands of others.”
The key will be our ability to release control sooner rather than later. This will require us to move into the posture of empowering and to be willing to embrace new ideas and innovative ventures, even though they may force us way out of our comfort zones.
Rowland Forman, Jeff Jones and Bruce Miller, in The Leadership Baton write, “Christianity is always just one generation away from extinction…Jesus’ mission has always depended on one generation of leaders handing the mission to the next. Where they have done so effectively, their churches and ministries have continued to thrive. Now the mission is in your grasp.” This does not mean that we have no role to play. We can still be the voice of experience and wisdom, but in the process, we must not take the wheel.
Daniel Deck, in his sermon “Generation to Generation,” said, “When the younger, full of strength and energy, joins forces with the elder, full of experience and wisdom, the results can be powerful and long-term.” I hear the engine revving; it is time to get on the quad. It will be both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. I dare you to take the risk and hang on for the ride of your life.
“Let our efforts for His kingdom reach a wider circle” — A.B. Simpson
Please find the original version in C&MA website