Investing in the Next Generation: 4 Things You Can Do to Make a DifferenceFebruary 10, 2014
Walter Lippman said, “The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind in others the conviction and will to carry on.” As spiritual leaders we extend our influence and legacy through the investments we make in others. If we are not mentoring, training, helping, and serving the next generation, we are limiting our influence to the temporary terrain of today, the here and now. But authentic leadership sees beyond the temporary moment, it understands the importance of leading for tomorrow.
Spiritual influence is rarely measured in the lifespan of a particular man; it is rather measured in the lives of those he touched after he is dead and gone. We place a lot of emphasis on living long, but do we long to live wide? Do we long to live for others?
The apostle Paul accentuated this idea when he said, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). Here we find the prevailing reason why we must invest in others. We are to preserve a body of doctrine, a body of truth.
We teach others so that truth is known in each generation. This is more than preserving your personal heritage or perpetuating your personal empire. Your influence in the Kingdom of God is contingent upon your investment to the Kingdom of God. Truth, God’s truth must be accentuated, taught, and passed down to those who will eventually take your place. We simply point them in His direction, we lead them to His truth, we train them in His knowledge. Anything more than that is prideful, anything less than that is vanity.
Here are four ways to reach the next generation so that they can teach others also.
The Gospel is the breeding ground for influence. The authority of our leadership is based upon the message of God’s Son. In order to train the next generation we must reach the next generation with the Gospel. This must be the starting point of ministry.
Every young person I know needs encouragement. Start with your own children. Offer them more than information or lectures. Give them your own life experiences, your time, your stories. Share a joke, take them fishing, lend an ear, write a note. Do something to let them know you are interested in their life.
Sign them up for ministry. Ask them to go with you on visitation. Invite them to a class or a conference. Let them see you minister and allow them to minister with you. When young people are involved they are more likely to stay interested.
Give them God’s Word. Teach them the truth. Do more than build a relationship with them; help them build a relationship with God. Ultimately mentoring is about helping them meet the Master.