I’ve shared many times about my mentor growing up – Buddy Earwood. There is no way to measure how much his interest in me during my high school years fueled my desire to lead music for ministry well. I have his bible next to my desk to remind me of his investment in my life.
But there were others too. When I was in seminary, I served at Istrouma Baptist Church in Baton Rouge under the leadership of two men – Ron Lambe and Larry Herndon. These two men challenged me and gave me opportunity to expand my horizons. They are both close friends to this day.
A leader never diminishes himself when he or she takes a step back and allows someone else to lead. You’ve heard the old adage, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” I’d like to offer a different one; “If you want something done after you’re gone, give someone else the opportunity to do it now.”
Here are 4 things to think about when leading someone from the next generation.
- Allow room for creativity. The next generation won’t necessarily do things they way we do them. Allow their personality and perspective to come through. Offer help when asked but give plenty of space.
- Allow for mistakes. Perhaps the best way anyone learns is by making errors. Lovingly and patiently give enough latitude for mistakes that teach. Don’t control everything.
- Allow the next generation to lead you. Don’t just make the assignment and disappear. Stay engaged in the project as a participant. Gain first hand perspective and the opportunity for real time feedback by submitting yourself to the leadership of the next gen leader.
- Allow time for reflection. Don’t move on too quickly. Be sure you have time to reflect together on each assignment. Learn the art of great questions and teach the same skill to the people you lead from the next generation.
Ever watch a track meet? The relay races are my favorite. Any track coach will tell you the most critical time in every relay race is the passing of the baton. Teams can lose the race – even if they have the fastest runners – if they don’t pass the baton well.
It takes practice, focus, intentionality, and repetition to learn this skill. If we pass the baton to the next generation well, the church will be blessed for many years to come with great leadership in worship.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.