Friday, September 18, 2009

Getting out of the Way

Yesterday I was watching my twitter feed, and Steve Heyduck posted something that grabbed my attention. I had a gut reaction, and I failed to complete the thought in 140 characters, and digest the conversation with any real strength.

It started like this:

@steveheyduck: For the UMC to take seriously raising up young leaders, we who are 45+ will have to be willing to get out of the way. #umc

@revcamp: @steveheyduck getting out of the way only helps if you are identifying and guiding to that point #umyc #umc

I don't want our leaders now to get out of the way to take seriously raising up young leaders. To me that sounds an awful lot like "In order for our children to grow up we need to die." Now, I realize that statement may be overdramatizing the issue, but I have seen it acted out that way.

It may be that Steve means "get out of the way" in the sense of providing actual leadership opportunities, with real responsibility, and accountability for failure, accolades for achievement, and listening to our ideas as we begin to think out new plans for the future. I hope that is it.

After watching some more of the extended dialogue (durn it there are not threaded feeds on Twitter - a la Facebook and Gmail) Mike Lindstrom responded with some of these thoughts.

  1. @jereasons @steveheyduck I agree about ego - will we let younger ones cast some vision and move "our" church fwd or will we be speed bumps?
  2. @steveheyduck Okay - just want to be clear. As a soon to be 45 yo I'm passionate about moving into God's vision w/ others (I abhor ladders)
  3. @methoblog (and @steveheyduck) 45 year old clergy not ready to retire (and have vision) can work w/ yng ldrs who lead - join w/ not jump out

Which was in reference to some of these comments
  1. @mikeybob I am 45 myself - just admitting that WE can't just talk a good game about raising up young leaders.
  2. @mikeybob by "get out of the way" I don't mean retire. Perhaps climb off the "ladder?" Perhaps genuine openness to younger people's ideas?

But, getting out of the way too early is dangerous and leads to death for all. Now, I will admit I am right at the edge of Young Adults by definition of clergy standards at 35. I admit I was frustrated at times as an assistant youth leader, and as an associate pastor with being "held down" by the heirarchy of the church. Sometimes, that was saving my hindquarters from getting in some real trouble. At other times I think we missed some opportunities with our families, youth, and congregations.

I am grateful for those who said "What's the worst that can happen - we fail? All we can do is try it and see." From those statements followed the pieces that said, "Here are some things you may want to think about, and some tools I think you will need to make it succeed." If I chose to use other tools then so be it. If I thought about what was given all the better. If I decided a tool wasn't necessary and the truth was otherwise, I was usually given the opportunity to learn it for myself; when risk was too high, I was told to use that tool regardless. I was grateful for each of these.

These days I have no hierarchy to hold me back, but I do have people to whom I am responsible. The choices I make are my own, and I realize that I have an entire congregation that has its own expectations of what I am going to be. I try to honor those, as well as be myself, hold conversation as we go forward.

I wonder what it will look like to allow the current people to be themselves, as well as inviting new people into the conversation, as United Methodists, as Clergy, and as a changing nation and world. Can we provide enough leadership that those who will have to lead next will have some idea of what good leadership is, and how to enact it, or are we just turning over the reigns to the cart horse to a four year old raised in a car society?

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At September 18, 2009, Blogger Pastor Glen Haworth said...

Interesting thoughts, David. Being one of those over 45, my take is that it is a both/and sort of thing. Yes, we "older" (I am still not used to that!) clergy need to get out of the way of younger ones who are energized and enthused to get new things done. But at the same time, the younger ones (and I was one once) need to respect and seek the wisdom (gad, did I just say that?) of the elders as they step into leadership, perhaps seeking a mentor/mentee relationship.

The young need the old, and the old need the young. It is when one or the other thinks they can do just fine without the other that we fail.


Glen Haworth

At September 18, 2009, Blogger johnsue said...

I'm approaching 65 and see myself as someone who needs to get out of the way for those who communicate differently and experience differently b/c they are younger. I don't want to hold them back, but I do desire to have someone mentor me so I can come along. I certainly don't want to be part of the "We've never/always done it that way" mentality. I, however, still have much to give, share, and model. My strengths are in person to person(non-technology) ways of compassion, intercession, and mission. I am able to share from wonderfully rich experiences of prayer, devotions, worship, healings, and stewardship. I speak in the first person, but feel as though this is for many of those of us over 65 who remain true to following Christ's call and continue to grow in our faith. Love ya! Your oldie (but goodie) mother

At September 18, 2009, Anonymous David Youngdale said...

"In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple." - Isaiah 6:1.
King Uzziah here would have been way past 45, but the real issue was NOT that he was so old, but that he was "old" thinking; in other words not "forward" thinking. God is doing a new thing. Old ways and old thinking have to die, then we will see the Lord "high and lifted up". Age is really not the issue; as we can be past 45 as I am, but still be young and new in our thinking as our minds are renewed by the Word of God.


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