Empowering the Next Generation
I am often so impressed with the amount of energy the staff and faculty members at NU invest in developing leaders. Every week, leadership sessions are conducted by teams from Student Development, Campus Ministries, classes such as UCor, and others. Most would agree, we need influential, Jesus-loving leaders to navigate our changing culture.
Recently, I was privileged to sit in a leadership session with our Campus Pastor, Christian Dawson, and Ministry Assistant, Megan Netherton. The course is specifically designed to develop leadership skills in our on-campus ministry students. If I can brag for a moment, I think we have some of the best-trained staff and faculty you could find on any campus. In this particular session, what most impressed me was not the material, even though it was excellent. Rather, I was impressed that these students were being challenged to lead right now, at a young age. For emerging leaders, college is a wonderful place to exercise leadership gifts and implement what they are learning in real-time. It is a great place to see what success looks like, and to learn how to work through challenges.
One of my favorite books right now is called Growing Young by Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin. A fundamental principle introduced in the book is called "Key Chain leadership". Essentially, Key Chain leadership is about entrusting and empowering all generations, including students and emerging adults, with the “keys” to the organization. Simply, it is the empowering spirit put forward by organizational leaders to give authority to the next generation.
Paul was an empowering leader who knew how to encourage the emerging generation. Paul said to Timothy, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2). If we lead like Paul in our churches and ministry settings, the gospel of Jesus Christ will have compounding potential to reach thousands, just as it did in the early church.
Two simple practices for empowering leaders comes to my mind from Paul’s letter to Timothy. First, mature leaders must take the first step in trusting emerging leaders. For a seasoned leader, developing this kind of trust takes a great deal of faith in the younger generation. The fear is that a new leader might “mess it up”. The truth is, life is messy, and so is trust, but a mature leader must be able to handle the mess. Just as the mature leader needs to take initiative, it is also crucial for a young leader to be a reliable person. Perhaps you are a young leader wondering why leadership opportunities have not come your way. Or, as a recent young leader asked me, “The opportunities I used to get are not happening anymore; do you know why?" A good place to start is asking the question, "Am I a reliable person?" Perhaps something you posted recently was not well received. Or maybe you engaged in an activity you thought no one would know about. I have learned that secrets are fuel for public gossip. Secrets are almost always made known (Luke 8:17).
Lord, give us fresh, creative, and new ideas to help us empower people into leadership. Give us trust in our relationships as they are the foundation for good mentoring relationships. May we never lose our calling to be a disciple and to build disciples for your Kingdom. Amen.