There is a great deal of discussion going on in the church right now about the relationship between older and younger ministers, the importance of spiritual fathering and mentoring, how to best engage the input of younger ministers in the life and health of the church and the best way to “handoff the baton” to the next generation. While reflecting on these challenges, the Lord has taken me back to a familiar verse: “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” (Psalm 37:25 NIV).
Now and Never represent where our present realities intersect with our understanding of our journey to this point. God has been good to the Church of God. Many beneficial things have happened through our united efforts for theKingdom of God over the last 130 years. Yet we stand at the same crossroads that countless generations arrived at before us. It can’t be avoided. It is part of the life of the church. It always has been.
At the same time that we are living longer than ever, the world is changing more rapidly than at anytime in history. Though we have confidence that the Lord will see to it that our spiritual sons and daughters will not be spiritual paupers. He wants us to take intentional steps to see to it that their future is secure. Here’s a few random ideas to consider:
- Remind yourself everyday that there is no success without successors.
- Make sure you are in regular dialogue with ministers older and younger than you. You just might learn something valuable.
- Develop the habit of being a life long learner.
- Make plans for the day when you will need to exit full-time ministry gracefully and hand things off to a younger minister.
- If you are older, don’t be jealous or overly critical of youthful ambition and exuberance.Remember what you were like at that stage in your life.
- If you are younger, respect the experience and service of your elders. Be patient. Treat them the way you will want to be treated by the generation following you.
- Be partners in letting dreams and visions sharpen each other (see Acts 2:17).
- Pray for one another to have “transitional grace” so that the handoff is not fumbled.
- Give younger ministers room to lead andspread their wings. They’ll make some mistakes, but so did you.
We should be optimistic about our future. However, it is not an idle confidence. We must work together to make sure that everything the Lord has accomplished through us up to now, is never forfeited in the future.