Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Older Leaders

I want to share some thoughts about older leaders. Why? The purpose of this blog post is to increase grace, honor and understanding for leaders that are further along than you. But a few things need to be said first...


  1. First of all, these reflections are from my own expereince serving under the spirititual authority of older leaders. They may not be consistent with your experiences, but they are mine.
  2. Second, I am choosing to not define "older".  I will let you do that based upon whether you find the reflections applying to "older" leaders you have served with. Of course, these are gross generalizations that you can judge for yourself.
  3. Third, this email is not describing any one leader I have served under, but rather a sampling of a few. And I have been BLESSED to serve under some dynamite leaders. 


Older leaders can seem inflexible. Be careful before you conclude that. What you see as inflexibilty may actually be wisdom and commitment to integrity. They have more years of practice at standing firmly on what they believe in than you do. You would waiver and call it "good" and "flexible".  They just know what they believe in, get it said, and stand by it. What is wrong, is when they communicate their commitments with a pride or beligerance lording over others. 


Older leaders can seem stubborn and unwiling to see and consider other options and opinions. Let us imagine that you are working with a 60 year old leader and you feel that they are acting this way.  Stop and remember this: that 60 year old has had a solid 35 YEARS to learn and form their values.  Their values are based on what they have seen work and fail, please God and displease Him.  So, there is very little conversation when something has worked for 35 years and now you want to try to convince them otherwise.  Sure, there is always a slim chance that their personal value is wrong. But, 1) you will not change it and 2) the chances are higher that they are correct and you just have not had that "class" yet. So, let it go. practice submission and honor and see how you behave in 20-30 years. 


Honor and respect are totally different beasts. You give honor. People earn respect. Honor your leaders regardless of how much they bother you.  Keep pouring out honor as long as you serve them. Leaders often rise to the level of honor they have been given.  You can impact them this way.


Stop taking things personally. When they question something you do or suggest or propose, they are not attacking you. You will do yourself a major favor if you would get yourself out of the center of everything. Most of the time, it is not about you. And even when it is, it is their job to make you aware of it, not your job to assume it.


Stop slamming your leader.  If you are talking negative about your leader behind their back, you will have no confidence when you are in their face and your relationship will never be healthy. Honor them bhind their back. Even with your spouse.  In fact, your spouse will almost always follow your emotions.  If you do not like a leader, she/he will not either. If you honor them, so will they. 


Older leaders are a well of wisdom and stories....but if you are not interested in receieving what they have, they will be mature enough not to just force it on you.  Desire it.  Ask for it. Don't just sit there. You have to ask questions so they feel invited to share what they have.  Older age can be a very vulnerable time....give the leaders ahead of you the confidnce that you care to hear their hearts! 


How do you think I learned these lessons? Yup. The hard way. No reason for you to do the same.  Please share this news with others you know that need to read it. Save them some heartache.

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