After Focus, me and my girls travelled down to the south west of England for New Wine. New Wine is another one of those fab crazy weeks where again 1000’s of people gather to worship, learn and pray and celebrate. Like the gathering of God’s people going to Jerusalem, but no onsite animal sacrifices. Craziest of all, people camp. I don’t get camping; I sincerely don’t understand how you leave all your home comforts and your home basics, lower your standard of living and call it a relaxing getaway. Especially when we know that the English summer is a character building experience. It’s enough to give me a calling to the hotel industry. Anyway, my kids wanted to camp and so the compromise was a caravan (US think little RV) on site it was a glorious oasis. My girls dived into the awesome kids programs. They returned from their gatherings telling me what worship albums I needed to buy and singing Rend Collectives “My Lighthouse” day and night.
I was there to speak at a few evening gatherings and workshops, but the moment God grabbed my attention was nowhere near the stage. During the week a friend asked if I could spend with group of young leaders in their 20’s. These men and women were passionate about ministry, mission and leadership and as a result were stepping up in preaching and public communication. He asked if I’d be willing to give a few tips.
“The next generation wanted to hear from an experienced leader from the previous generation,” he said. I smiled warmly and said I’d love to. Meanwhile inside I thought:
“Erm… EXCUSE ME? I’m the previous generation now? When did THAT happen?”
His words made me smile and gave me pause. I was part of ‘the emerging generation’ once, a younger tribe coming through. We were dreamers, hungry for investment and an opportunity for God to use us in someway. How quickly time passed; my emerging generation had fully emerged. The pupa became a butterfly, and grew love handles and grey hair! We were no longer young people, we’re professionals trying to ascend a corporate ladder, pastors working all of the hours in churches, parents with pension plans. Or something else. Whatever we’re up to now, we’re no longer being discovered, we’re old news. Life moved on.
When I look at my girls it’s easy to remember that life and purpose is about so much more than me, my passions or my individual call. I’m humbled by the reality and the opportunity of the moment: they are my next generation. Investing my life in them is a magnificent, sacrificial, beautiful thing. Its also disciplined hard work.
That same reflection returned as I thought of these young leaders. Leadership is not about preserving my own opportunities. There’s always been a call to make disciples. As a leader I need to embrace the reality and the opportunity of the moment. These are my next generation and the implications are a magnificent, sacrificial, beautiful thing. It will also require discipline and hard work. Will I invest my life in them?
So I met with this group of young leaders and pioneers. Hungry for investment and the opportunity for God to take their lives and write His story with it.
We didn’t have long together, maybe 20 – 30 minutes. So I talked quickly, sharing some tips, but also something of my heart, a piece of my years, my ongoing journey. I think, I hope, it helped them; it certainly helped me. I prayed they’d keep that hunger, protect that fire. I pray they dream bigger, run further. I pray they bring people with them. Because the days, the months, the years pass all too quickly.
Leaders, pastors, worship leaders, speakers, directors:
Friends, we may have huge influence, a huge profile – but we’re still merely notes in a song, words in an epic story. His story. If we look (and sometimes we’ll need to look hard and beyond our preferences) we’ll find a generation hungry for mentoring, discipling, training, coaching, and longing for the chance to learn even if they fail sometimes, longing for guidance as they grow. They’re passionate to take their place, to get moving. They have the potential to take us to places that honestly we can’t see, do things that we can’t do. They have dreams that need unlocking, adventures they need to embark on. And sometimes they need to people inspire, equip them, challenge, advocate – make room for them. Some of them will me just like us, cut from the same cloth. Others will be very different, different gender, color, ethnicity, different personality type, and different age group. We need to look for them all. This will stretch us, it will definitely require sacrifice. On both sides. It will bring something new out of us as we fulfill our call. And remember, when we’re investing in others its not us saying that we’ve reached our expiration date in leadership. For as long as we have breath we’re not done. Its just that it will take every generation, a family on a mission to change the world.
Will we default to our gifts, our call and fearfully cling to self-preservation? Or is there something more that God is inviting us into? Who are the people God is calling you to grow and develop. What are you doing about it?
The other thought concerns a growing vision for this website and blog. I can’t meet everyone in person. I can’t and won’t and frankly shouldn’t be at every conference. But if it will help, I do want to share what I’ve learned over the years, what I’m still learning. About leadership, about preaching, about the how of following your calling in the mundane and the marvels of everyday life.
I’ll need your help on that… What would you like me to write about?
What questions do you have about speaking and teaching?
Perhaps you feel isolated– Is there a way help on this blog?
You might be an emerging leader – young and starting out.
Or perhaps you’re emerging in the sense that you are new to leadership and trying it on for the first time. You could be 15 you could be 85.
Or maybe you’re uber experienced and want to process this further.
Please add your questions below, or contact me via my site – and in the coming months I’ll do my best to explore what we can incorporate into the blog schedule or into other ideas I’ve got cooking up right now…Looking forward to learning and growing together in the times to come!
love Jo x