In the past, church leaders commanded respect due to their position in the community. As a figure in a revered role, their reputation was all the authority they needed.
Today, millennials are looking for a different kind of leadership. Rather than position or authority, they are looking for genuine mentorship with those above them and relationship with those they serve. The world has changed, and young adults are looking for leaders who can change with it.
As church leaders who serve and work with younger leaders in the body of Christ, we need to understand these important changes. I’ve found that there are three important components to this:
Millennials are looking for leaders who listen, who set their perspective aside in order to hear another’s. Sincere openness and tolerance go a long way towards earning the younger generation’s respect. A neglect of these things will often mean an immediate loss of this respect. By doing this kind of active listening, you soon determine one another’s core values and what those you lead need from you.
As a result of listening, you also learn each other’s core needs. Are there ways in which we can encourage, support and help each other, rather than trying to get our own way? As Paul told Timothy, younger leaders should never be looked down upon for their youth. Allow yourself to learn from those who are on the cutting edge of today’s ministry.
As we listen and learn, then we may have the opportunity to lead. By listening and learning, you look for the openness in relationship. Is there openness for you to lead? To give direction? To give guidance? Are you being invited to lead? If you aren’t, you may need to go back to steps 1 and 2. Having listened and learned you’ll be far more likely to be effective in accomplishing your mutual goals.
Relationships and experiences matter much more to the younger generation than position, hierarchy and authority. If you are willing to put in the time to nurture the relationships with those you lead and work with, it will go a long way towards building a strong ministry.