Last week I had coffee with Erin, a young woman entrepreneur who is also a wife, mother, and servant in her church. She had asked me for some “mentoring time” which always terrifies me! I am still learning what mentoring involves and trying to discern how to give young leaders the gift of my presence and lessons learned over the decades. I have been struck by two distinct traits in the young leaders (both men and women) who have sought me out – they are hungry for wisdom and they are humble.
Here is a sweeping generalization, but I believe there is some truth to it. My Baby Boomer generation, back in our 20’s and 30’s, were not nearly as humble. Many of us were arrogantly thinking that our parents’ generation did not know much about leadership in the church, and we did not often seek them out. We made stuff up as we went along, with a lot of hits and misses along the way. How much failure and agony could we have prevented if only we would have humbly asked for some guidance and support?
What I am seeing these days gives me great hope for the future of the kingdom and God’s Church. Young men and women are actively asking more mature Christ followers to invest in them. There is actually a tremendous shortage of mentors! Those of us who are older need to open ourselves to a season of giving back. Mentoring does not require us to have all the answers or to have it all together. The best gift we can bring is to listen and to ask good questions, to offer perspective and support. We can let the younger leader know we are in their corner, that God will not fail them, that they are doing better than they often give themselves credit for.
This is God’s divine plan – for those who are older to come alongside those who are younger. I celebrate the hunger and humility I see in young leaders, and I challenge those of us who are getting grey hair to get over it, to offer our minds and our hearts to those coming behind us, to choose to invest and to love and to pray for them diligently. The future of the church is in their hands. Let’s not miss out on the wonder of this privilege to give back and pay it forward