I recently had the opportunity to sit down with 5 Phoenix Valley Pastors who are leading multiste churches that range in attendance from 5,000 to more than 15,000. In the next couple of days I’m going to be sharing some of their comments about Church Leadership. Here are the pastors who participated in the conversation:
Question #1 “How do young leaders earn the right to be heard and succeed on your team?”
Linn Winters: I think this may one of the biggest challenges in the church today. Older leaders need to learn how to embrace younger leaders and younger leaders need to stop fighting older leaders by trying to make their identity as different than older leaders instead of receiving a hand off from older leaders. Honor in public gives you influence in private. The most powerful thing a young leader can do to earn the right to be heard is they’ve got to learn how to support their leader publicly even if they disagree with them. Every older leader has got to figure out about the younger leaders on their team, are you Aaron or are you Absalom? You hear the story of Moses when Israel is fighting the Amalekites, and the battle goes by whether or not Moses’s arms are up. And if you think about it, that’s a horrible plan. Hey, we’re going to go fight, and the plan for winning is I’ll raise my arms. And I get it as young leaders that you say, “Sometimes I don’t know if I buy the plan of my older leader. I’m not sure if that’s how I would do it if I were king.” But that’s not the issue. The issue is honoring your leader. And Aaron knew this. When Moses’s arms get weak and tired, he helps to lift his arms. Because he knew that at the end of the day as the leader goes, so goes the church. And so they’re invested in the success of the leader, not for his sake, but for the sake of the nation. And young leaders need to learn to be invested in the success of their leader, not for his glory but for the greater glory of the church. And when you do this your leader is much more willing to hear the push-back and allow influence in private. Absalom does just the opposite. Absalom decides to sit at the city gate and criticize one of the greatest men of God ever. And David had his flaws. But Absalom decides to process every decision through the filter of “if I were King.” And the moment he does that he’s dissatisfied with his own father. And he spends his time trying to tear down his fathers Kingdom, to the harm of Israel. And at the end of the day if you’re going to be a young leader of influence you’ve got to decide, are you going to be an Aaron or are you going to be an Absalom? “Aarons” get heard; “Absaloms” get hung from trees by their hair.
Scott Ridout: The thing about leadership that most young leaders miss is that leadership isn’t appointed its acknowledged. When you’re a leader everyone knows it. And great leaders, young or old, play their position they don’t lead through our position.
Tyler Johnson: The reciprocal of this is true as well. As a leader the way you make your staff successful is a fundamental belief that my job is to help make them successful. Because the utmost example of somebody in power, Jesus who is God…Philippians 2 says: doesn’t count His position as something to be grasped but He humbles Himself and becomes obedient for the benefit of those other people. And I think that curve that you see theologically in Scripture, which in your dying for the benefit of somebody else, brings about resurrection. So a culture that is built upon servant leadership. I have a mentor who reminds me that, “Everyone talks about servant leadership but hardly anybody does it.” Because that death being at the center of love, your dying for somebody else’s gain is extraordinarily hard. And I think has application to both younger leaders and older leaders.
Don Wilson: I think the question, “What do young people need to do to be heard?” is the same thing older people need to do to be heard. I don’t think it’s an age issue. I think if you want to be heard first of all you need to have some results so they know you’re doing it. And secondly when you open your mouth to be heard, you’ve got to know what you’re talking about. And if you do that you’ll earn credibility whether you’re young or you’re old. If you get old and you can’t deliver or say the right thing you don’t have any influence either. You earn that by your servant attitude, your results, and then when you do speak you add something to the table. Probably the qualities I would say we look for…is one of the guys on our staff said, “There’s only two things you can control, your attitude and your effort.” And to me one of the greatest examples in business of attitude is Southwest Airlines. They hire for attitude. If we’re not careful, in the church I think sometimes we hire for skill and skill can plateau but if you have the right attitude you can always keep growing.