Craig Groeschel is up now, pastor of Lifechurch.tv, one of the largest churches in the nation. Here is my summary.
Sometimes people say to me, “Craig, how did you come into ministry?” I would not be doing what I am doing today if it had been for my pastor who took a risk on me at 23 and said “I believe God can do something special with your life.”
Tragically, there is not enough of this today. I want to talk to the older generation, and then the younger generation. I think I can maybe do this for a bit because I’m about in the middle right now.
How do you know if you are in the older generation? Let’s just say if you have to ask that question, you probably are.
To the Older Generation
Don’t look down on the next generation, don’t resent them, don’t look down on them. Believe in them because they need you.
Know that even though some in our society don’t always value maturity, God values maturity. If you’re not dead, you’re not done.
If you’ve got breath, keep going. I’d dare to say your best days are before you.
One of the most innovative and impacting ideas he’s learned came from a guy who was 75.
How can you hand ministry over to the next generation? The key is in delegating. Don’t just delegate tasks to the next generation. If you do this, you create followers. People who simply do what they’re told. Delegate authority, because then you create leaders. And that’s exactly what my pastor did to me.
Embrace the season you are in. Don’t try to be something you aren’t. The younger generation can smell a fake from a million miles away. Be yourself. With the younger generation, authenticity trumps cool every single time. “There’s nothing worse than some fat, fifty year old preacher wearing skinny jeans. Just say no.”
You can be a spiritual father to those who come behind you.
To the Younger Generation
You need those who have gone before you more than you can imagine.
A characteristic of the younger generation is the sense of entitlement. This is not your fault necessarily — you were coddled. One result of entitlement is over estimating what you can do. But most people over estimate what they can do in a short time and under estimate what they can do in a long time.
Showing honor publicly results in influence privately. The younger generation, however, often doesn’t show honor, and this is hurting churches and ministries.
One reason we have failed to honor people because we have failed to honor God for who he is. When we honor God for who he is, we will more naturally honor those around us.
Honor builds up; dishonor tears down. Honor values others; dishonor tears down. I would argue that in our churches and organizations, because of a lack of honor and love, we are limiting what we are able to do.
Some people say “if my pastor (or boss or etc.) was honorable, I’d show honor to them.” But it’s respect that is earned; honor is given. Treating people with honor is often what leads to them becoming honorable. Some of you in the younger generation need to repent of how you have treated those above you, because you have dishonored them. If you want to learn to be over, you need to learn to be under with integrity.
How Do We Do This?
Both generations must be intentional about this.
1. Create ongoing feedback loops. For example, each week I go over my message with a group that has people from the older generation and from the younger generation. Then after teaching the first one on Saturday night, I go back into a room and have it critiqued by those older and younger. You need to create intentional opportunities to get feedback. And think what it says to your church when a senior leader says to a 23 year-old “I value your opinion.”
2. Create specific mentoring moments. For example, yesterday I had a chance to sit with one of the major business leaders in our country. I was taking notes and writing as fast as I can. Recently we had a gathering in our church of the older and younger meeting together. These meetings do not happen by accident. You have to plan for them. This is one of the most important things you can do to develop strength in your organization. If you are younger, ask someone older, “will you mentor me?” Then ask them questions like crazy. Don’t try to copy what they do. Learn how they think.
3. Create opportunities for significant leadership development. For example, at our church we had a developmental weekend where we wanted to help develop new speakers. In a single weekend, we trained 38 new speakers to proclaim God’s word, and sent a resounding message that we are a church that values the next generation.
This was a truly fantastic message. Review this. Learn from this.