When I was a young man . . . ok a younger man, in my teens and 20s, I had some great mentors. I had men who walked with me and beside me, who encouraged me and really showed me the ropes. I am so grateful for those men and the men in my life now who encourage me and provide me opportunities. The world at large is not looking to help me at all.
At the age of 34, I have been around long enough to know that emergent and incumbent leaders don’t get along too well. The emergent feel like they are marginalised and stifled, the incumbent feel like they are disrespected and pushed aside. The youth want to be in charge now, the established leaders what them to pay their dues and climb the ladder. Blindly, we continue in this model, thinking it will all work out. It won’t.
There are plenty of examples of scripture where incumbent leaders blew it. I think of King Hezekiah who was content to show his entire kingdom to the country that would take them into captivity. When Isaiah confronted him, he said “as long as there is peace in my lifetime”. I see that same attitude among some of the incumbent leaders, who are fine maintaining the status quo, even if it means the next generation will be doomed. They are not able to look beyond their own retirement.
In the same way, some of the emergent leaders just want to kick the incumbent leaders out and take over. Remember Soloman’s son Rehoboam decided to toss out his father’s advisors and their ideas and do things his own way. He wanted to make a name for himself, and ended up doing so in a negative way. This is the destruction that comes from the unteachable.
So here we are today, pastors who want to protect their pulpits, younger leaders who want to take the reigns without being mentored and disciples, and the churches are paying the price. Many churches are not multi-generational because we have drawn the lines in the sand. At the Pastor’s Conference at the annual meeting one year, I heard a man from the pulpit say “we have traded the sacred for the profane. . . . we traded the hymnal for the praise team”. That was an invitation for a throw down if I’ve ever seen one. I have heard many pastors preach about the evil of drums in church. As a drummer, I pay attention to that.
In the same way, the younger leaders are throwing the baby out with the bath water. There is a danger of forgetting who we are as Baptists as we begin to throw away the things of those who came before them. By not using the tools and resources available, by not taking places in the local, state and national convention and working under wise and caring mentors, things fall to pieces.
So here is my charge, incumbents, find someone to mentor. Find some preacher boys to invest your life and ministry. Mentor some of these guys who are going to go to seminary, who are in seminary or who have just finished seminary.
Younger guys, find a mentor. Ask questions, go to the annual meetings, hang out with your DOM. If you serve in a church, find a pastor of a different church to talk too and learn from. Find lots of different leadership styles, not just the one you are comfortable with. Gain wisdom, be teachable, stop pushing those in charge out of the way in your attempts to run forward, and learn to be a wise leader.
I now invite comments, conversation and rebuke.