Maximized Leadership: The Need To Lead (an important message for my senior adult friends)

I like to drive. Whenever my family gets in the car I automatically go to the driver’s seat. We do not discuss it…that is just the way it happens. I remember when my oldest daughter turned fifteen. You know what happened. She wanted to get a learners permit. I had actually let her drive in the church parking lot on several occasions ever since she was about thirteen. Once she turned fifteen we got out on the road but I was still there to guide her and when needed to tell her what to do or where to turn. Then she turned sixteen. She passed her drivers exam and I gave her the keys. Now that was a scary moment. At that point she began making many of the decisions for herself. What if I had refused to equip her or to turn over the keys? You should know that she is thirty years of age now. However, when she was sixteen it was not only unsettling to let her drive but it was also risky. What if she were to have a wreck? What if she gets hurt? What if she hurts someone else? What if she breaks a law? What if she damages the car? Do I take the risk or do I hold her back? If I hold her back, how will she get around when she turns thirty?

I reluctantly turned the keys over and I am glad that I did. I’ll admit, she damaged the car, got a couple of speeding tickets, went some places I would prefer she not have gone, and caused me some grief and worry. But, it all turned out alright. She now drives to work, gets where she needs to go without me having to pick her up and take her everywhere, and actually drives to visit with me. I like that! The reality is that it would not have been healthy for me to withhold from her the opportunity to learn to drive, to actually drive, and then to allow her to be somewhat independent of me in her decision making. She still comes to me for counsel but since I released her to drive on her own, she is getting along just fine.

This whole story is true and it is also a metaphor for my senior adult friends. I am fast approaching your life stage and I really appreciate all you have done for the church and value what you are doing now. But, I have a question. How are you doing at turning over the keys? Are you still the one doing the driving in your church? Or have you invested in some younger leaders and given them the keys? If you do, it is risky. They will make decisions that are different than you may have and they will make some mistakes that would not have been made if you were driving. It can be really aggravating when they turn the radio to music on a station that you do not like. But, how can they learn to drive unless you allow them to…drive. Your influence is still crucial and your opinion is still valuable. I do know of some churches where the older leaders have refused to turn over the keys or to allow some of the younger members to drive. Interestingly, there are now no young people to give the keys to in some of these churches. They have all left to go to a church where they are allowed to drive. Who wants to sit in an infant’s car seat when they are old enough to drive themselves? Turning over the keys does not mean that your work is done or that your value is less. It reflects that you truly grasp what it has meant to “make disciples.” They still need you…but the next generation also has the need to lead. How are you doing at turning over the keys?