Lessons from the Big Chair: Listen to Your Elders

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The church where I serve has been without a pastor since January, and I have had the privilege of serving alongside an incredibly wise, discerning, and experienced interim pastor over the past four months. As that time has drawn to an end and we have a new pastor coming in a few weeks, I thought I would spend some time reflecting on a few lessons I learned along the way.

Have you ever felt like you were the young gun in the room, and as a result felt under-prepared? Have you ever felt overwhelmed at the knowledge other people in your field know?

Early on in our interim’s tenure, he shared a story with me about something he learned early in his ministry–a 20 something can have the wisdom of a 60 something simply by asking a 60 something to share their wisdom.

In other words, if you’re young, ask older people for guidance.

One of the things I enjoyed the most was walking into the interim’s office and sitting as he shared stories of his experiences: stories of humbling events, incredible relationship, and life change. Very few times did I sit knee to knee with him and not feel energized by his wisdom and experiences.

There is a natural humility in asking people for advice and to share their experiences from lessons learned. Learn from the paths others have walked, and your path will suddenly seem less treacherous.

Now, for just a moment, let me offer a counter-view: if you’re, ahem, older, do not be afraid of sharing your experiences with those who are younger than you.

Please do not begin sharing your experiences by referencing a “young whippersnapper” or “you kids”, and be very cautious of offering your experiences until you’ve been asked. If my generation has any sense, we will ask. Then, you have the freedom to unload your learnings.

One last thought: I love hearing the stories of other people, especially their leadership stories. Hearing stories and understanding why people are at the place where they are energizes me and helps me become a stronger person and minister.

So, once again, you young whipper-snappers, listen to those who are older than you–they are even wiser than you, if you can believe it.

Now, you more experienced generation, please share with us what you learned along the way–we will be better for it.

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