In my last post, I started a conversation about the relational gap between older and younger leaders, and how our honor for each other is really an answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17. In verse 23 Jesus prayed, “May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.” Let’s continue to unpack this together as we look at another key thought on the minds of the young leaders around you.
Young Leaders Want Family
Young leaders want to be part of a family, not just an organization. They are more interested in the people they will work with than the actual work they will do. Young leaders can hop online or on their phones and get some of the best leadership teaching, materials, and advice out there within minutes. There is no replacement, however, for the value and significance that comes through relationship and connection to an older, wiser leader.
Chances are many of the young leaders around you are part of the polarizing “millennial” generation. Millennials are those currently between the ages of 16 and 36. A quick google search will show you that Coca-Cola, and other large companies, are spending as much as $20,000 an hour on consultants to help them understand millennials better. Millennials are the largest generation in U.S. history at 92 million. I’ll save you the $20,000 an hour and tell you right now one of the biggest desires in the hearts of almost every millennial: meaningful relationship connection from a leader who genuinely cares for them.
Among all the stats above, millennials are also the product of one of the most family dysfunctional generations in history. Their fragmented families back home have left a few deep rooted needs unmet, and that is precisely why God brought you into their life. Not to replace their mom or dad, but to provide some of the health and nourishment God intended them to have. Family isn’t just a marketing word for millennials, it is a deep desire. We want to know where we belong, connect, are valued, and have purpose. All of these things are found through family.
In a family, my success is your success
A friend once told me some good advice, “Don’t work hard to make your piece of the pie bigger. Work hard to make the pie bigger.” This idea is key in family. Picture a dad eating half the pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. The rest of the family is left to share the other half. All he did is make his “pie piece” bigger, which took away from the others. A good father doesn’t do this; he buys the biggest pie he can find so everyone has more. A good leader does the same for the young leaders around them.
In a family, the parents greatest legacy is their children’s triumph
Imagine a mother at her son’s soccer game. At one point in the game, the son misses a clear shot at the goal. The mother marches out on the field and says, “Let me show you how it’s done, son.” Maybe the mother has some skills, but that is no longer her greatest role. Impressing people with her skills is no longer necessary, but impressing the world by investing in her son is her legacy.
In a family, love for each other covers weakness but confronts patterns
Jealousy, fear, and insecurity will drive you to pick out each and every fault in the young leaders around you. Love found in a family will lead you to cover mistakes, but confront unhealthy patterns to help them grow.
In a family, heart connection is greater than task execution
Danny Silk in his parenting book, “Loving Our Kids On Purpose” says, “Your goal (as a parent) isn’t compliance, it’s strengthening their connection to your heart.” I believe this is a great principle for leadership, not just parenting.
You can be a leader only. There is nothing wrong with that. We need leaders! But we also need fathers and mothers. The apostle Paul was one of the most prolific leaders in the early church. He wrote some curious words in the bible a couple thousand years ago that stand out to me:
"For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel." I Corinthians 4:15
As I’ve said already, the young leaders around you have access to some of the best teaching on the planet, and mostly they can get it right on their phones. But your connection to them is deeper than instruction. Will you be a father or mother to them? Will you help them belong on your team? Will you help them discover their purpose and what God has created them to do? No youtube video or online class can do that, but you can.
Stay tuned for Pt 3 as I conclude this series. Again, my goal is to help not hurt. Thank you for reading.