Five Ways to Empower the Next Generation

The Official Publication of the Church of God of Prophecy

Tim Coalter General Presbyter, North America

Tim Coalter
General Presbyter, North America

Recently, I opened the pages of a book on ministry leadership and was confronted with these words: Every pastor is an interim pastor. Few ministers consider that truth. Few are eager to admit that their time with their present church will one day end. But ultimately, all pastors are interim because the day when a successor takes over will come for everyone in ministry. Planning for that day of succession may be the biggest leadership task a leader and church will ever face. It may also be the most important. (Next, William Vanderbloemen and Warren Bird.)

God has strategically planted young leaders in our organization with the potential to have enormous impact on churches, neighborhoods, cities and even nations. Failing to empower these dynamic young leaders is a mistake we can ill-afford to make.

Scripture gives a front row seat and allows us to observe how Moses thoughtfully and intentionally empowered Joshua as a next generation leader. Here are 5 takeaways for empowering the next generation:

  1. We empower next generation leadership when we invite them into our inner circle. When Moses ascended Sinai to receive the two tables of commandments for the first time, Exodus 24:13 reads, “So Moses and his assistant Joshua set out.” What a thrill it must have been for Joshua to join Moses on a portion of the journey. Then later, as Moses came down from the mountain, Joshua was the first to join him. Thoughtful leaders often give emerging leaders a “backstage pass” to join them in experiencing special ministry moments; moments that will shape them as a leader.
  2. We empower next generation leadership when we give them opportunity to lead. In the first mention of Joshua in the Bible, Moses commands him to “Choose some men to go and fight the army of Amalek for us” (Exodus 17:9). Long before the time of succession, Moses recognized the leadership potential in Joshua and allowed him to get some key leadership “wins” under his belt. In doing so, Joshua began gaining the confidence of the people, while also gaining confidence in his own leadership giftings.
  3. We empower next generation leadership when we affirm them. After the victory over the army of Amalek, the Lord instructed Moses, “Write this down on a scroll as a permanent reminder, and read it aloud to Joshua:” (Exodus 17:14). In doing so, Moses affirmed Joshua privately as a leader. Later, at the time of succession, Moses again affirmed Joshua; this time, publicly: “Then Moses called for Joshua, and as all Israel watched, he said to him, ‘Be strong and courageous! For you will lead these people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors he would give them. You are the one who will divide it among them as their grants of land’” (Deuteronomy 31:7). Private and public affirmation serves to empower next generation leadership.
  4. We empower next generation leadership when we allow them to fail forward. John Maxwell likes to say, “Leaders don’t have to be perfect to be successful.” Numbers 11:26–29 gives the account of two men, Eldad and Medad, who had not gone to the Tabernacle with the other elders, but instead, prophesied there in the camp. A young man ran and reported this to Moses. Joshua was there with Moses when the news was given and protested, “Moses, my master, make them stop!” Moses gently rebuked him, saying, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them all!” Moses didn’t discard Joshua as a leader because he demonstrated a lack of wisdom in this matter. Instead, he used it as a teachable moment. Soon afterward, Moses once again expressed confidence in Joshua by selecting him as one of 12 to spy out the land of Canaan.
  5. We empower next generation leadership when we clearly define the win. So many young leaders have no idea what success looks like. They think they are doing a phenomenal job while their senior leaders are disgruntled and disappointed with their performance. Empowering leaders takes time to set goals, define wins, maintain accountability and celebrate victories with young leaders. As Moses’ succession plan was nearing completion, he clearly defined the win for Joshua, saying to the people of Israel, “Joshua will lead you across the river, just as the Lord promised,” and to Joshua himself, “You will lead these people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors he would give them” (Deuteronomy 31:3, 7).

In a recent article, Tony Morgan, CEO of the Unstuck Group said, “Leaders today should be interested in establishing a strong legacy for tomorrow. We can no longer afford one and done churches and denominations.”

Should the Lord tarry, none who are presently in leadership will take us to the finish line. As noted earlier, “Planning for that day of succession may be the biggest leadership task a leader and church will every face. It may also be the most important.” (Next, William Vanderbloemen and Warren Bird.

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