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Wisdom for Leaders Young and Old

Stuck Between Stages

I find myself in a strange stage of life at this moment. In many ways, I can appeal to two very different groups: older leaders and younger leaders.

To younger leaders, I’m older. I’ve been in vocational ministry for nearly 6 years, have experience writing, teaching, leading teams, and consulting. I’ve been married for more than 7 years and have a 3 year old son. To “young” leaders, I’m old…ahem…experienced.

To older leaders, I’m still young. I’m not yet 30, still have a young child, have not run as many ministry laps as others, and still have a lot to learn. The “wet” behind my ears isn’t yet fully dried.

I find myself stuck between new leaders and old leaders. Which leaves me categorically nowhere. Thanks a lot, late-20s.

Living the Tension

For many of the decisions in my life right now, I live in this tension. I’ve been around long enough to stand on my own feet…but l have also been around long enough to know I don’t know everything. There are still days I feel in over my head. There are still days where I doubt myself. There are still days when I desperately need the sage advice that experience brings.

But I’ve been around long enough that people are looking at me for that same kind of advice. Which frightens me…and should frighten many others, too.

Many days, I wonder whether the next step forward is a good one…or is just a creepy man with a white wigbeard. Should I tell him what I want…or look at him, like my son did, with much trepidation?

Allow me, out of this tension, to speak to you.

To older leaders:

We need you. Urge us to proceed with caution or to run full throttle. Prod us to start something new. Encourage us to quit doing what we’re doing. Tell us what you would do if you were our age. We crave your years of experience. We long to learn from your failures so we don’t replicate them. Help us to stand on your shoulders and see further than our own vantage point offers.

To younger leaders:

Seek wisdom. It’s out there for you. In books, podcasts, and blog posts. It’s available in other men and women, screaming to shed light on the dark and confusing areas of your life. Don’t try to navigate the fog on your own. Life’s too short, and you haven’t lived enough of it.

Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech. (Proverbs 1:20-21)

Whatever stage in life you find yourself, you have a role. Lead upwards and downwards, sideways and backwards. The Kingdom needs you.

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Ben Reed is the small groups pastor at Long Hollow, a multi-site church in the Nashville, TN, area. He holds an Mdiv from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Ben is also an avid coffee drinker and CrossFitter, but not at the same time. Catch up with Ben at BenReed.net. In his book, "Starting Small: The Ultimate Small Group Blueprint," he helps leaders through the process of putting a small group ministry together and creating a place where people belong so they can become.