Four Barriers You Must Overcome to Engage a Younger Generation

Maximized Leadership: Four Barriers You Must Overcome to Engage a Younger Generation

My first grandchild is due in the next month. In other words, it can happen at any time. I am obviously pregnant with anticipation. I have received some insight as I began entry into this next stage of my life which actually began bubbling up in the past few years. I can best illustrate it by sharing something that happened in me when I became a parent. Though I never knew it was there, God turned on a switch of protection in my heart when my first child was born. If I was driving down the road and a car would happen to pull out in front of me, my right foot would immediately depress the brake, my left hand would grip the steering wheel, and my right hand would move to protect my child. All of this occurred in under one second and was instinctive. To prove my point, if you were with me in the same circumstance, my right foot would depress the brake, my left hand would grip the steering wheel, and my right hand would grip the other side of the steering wheel. In other words, you are on your own.

Whether or not I am old probably depends on how old you are. I don’t consider myself to be old but it is a fact that I am getting older. Aren’t we all? As I have aged, I have noticed other switches that have been activated in my heart and if I am not careful, they can be an impediment to my effectiveness as a leader with a younger generation. They are as follows:

1. Sentimentality: I get more sentimental as I get older. A part of me yearns for things to be like they used to be. Something in me seeks to return to the past but I cannot live in the past and be effective in the future.
2. Status Quo: I like change as long as I agree with it. It seems I have a harder time agreeing with change as I grow older. However, I cannot stay as I am and circumstances cannot stay as they are if I am to be effective in the future.
3. Satisfaction: I like being comfortable. I am a big fan of air conditioning, comfortable chairs, cold soft drinks, and indoor plumbing. That is just the tip of the iceberg. However, I must stay focused on the reality that while comfort can be a great blessing, it is not the mission. The mission is to influence as many people as I can to follow Jesus and to grow in their faith.
4. Skepticism: While the years are a blessing, they also come with many let downs and disappointments. It is easy to be cynical when people latch on to fads that I have seen come and go before. If I am not careful, I will not give younger leaders a chance to lead and I must if I desire to help them to progress in their journey of discipleship.

I think the key here is to know yourself and to acknowledge these barriers. I am personally more concerned that the next generation is reached with the gospel and that they thrive in their mission than have my nostalgic notions go uninterrupted. Sentimentality, the status quo, satisfaction, and skepticism all have their place. They can serve you well. But be cautions that they serve you in a way that does not hinder God’s greater purposes. Which is the greatest challenge to your leadership?