Good Advice For Younger Leaders

bird warren

I recently finished reading How to Break Growth Barriers by Carl George and Warren Bird. There’s lots of helpful material in the book, and I certainly recommend it. There was one particular section I found especially helpful on how to care for different types of folks in your church. Here’s a diagram:

older longer younger newer

George and Bird identify the four groups, then advise how to wisely care for the different groups as follows:

  1. Those who are younger than you, and have been around the church for less time. These are the easiest to lead in some ways. They recognise you as their leader and are willing to submit to your leadership. They like the more ‘pioneering’ and ‘visionary’ voice and positively want you to stretch and challenge them.
  2. Those who are younger than you, but have been around longer. They too will be open to your leadership. They may be more attached to the ideas of those who’ve been around longer; they may not. You need to take them with you, but generally they’re willing to be led.
  3. Those who are older than you, but are newer to the church. These people come with experience (good and bad) and may be slightly suspicious of the younger leader with their dreams and schemes. That said, they come into something already existing (and hopefully with some momentum), and provided you don’t patronise them, they will be glad to lend a hand and get involved.
  4. Those who are older than you, and have been around longer than you. George and Bird suggest that these may be the hardest group to lead. They may be resistant to change and new ideas. They’ve seen dreamers and schemers come and go, and they may remember the past with rose-tinted specs. The leader needs to appreciate not only what these folks can offer now, but all the work they’ve done before you were a twinkle in your daddy’s eye. They value being consulted, listened to, conversed with, and genuine appreciation. The great danger (according to George and Bird) is because these folk can sometimes be difficult the young leader ignores them, and focuses all their attention on the younger generation. This further alienates and discourages the older wiser group.

There’s much else in the book that is worthy of your attention, so why don’t you buy a few copies and read it with your team.


2 Replies to “Good Advice For Younger Leaders”

  1. Hi Martin As one who is older, and been around longer, may I always have a teachable spirit, and encourage your leadership with thankfulness. May I never make your task more difficult!! I think you are doing a great job, and I am very grateful to God for bringing you among us. I am thankful that Grace will, by the grace of God, be in safe hands when Ray eventually retires. I really appreciate your wisdom and vision. Every blessing, to you, Sarah and your beautiful family. Sue x

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Should say the older and wisers here at Grace are an absolute joy – so supportive and positive – and I’m so thankful to God for them. I am aware not all my mates have it so easy, hence why I thought the insights of the book were useful.

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