This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
“But your assistant, Joshua, will enter it. Encourage him, because he will lead Israel to inherit it [the Promise Land].” Deuteronomy 1:38 At the beginning of the month I, along with so many others in our church, were reading systematically through the Book of Deuteronomy. As a part of our ongoing devotion to engage God through His Word, we continued to plow through the ﬁfth book of the Pentateuch. From the very onset we come to discover and understand that Moses will not enter the Promise Land but that his assistant Joshua indeed will. This morning, in a hotel room in Canada, I ﬁnished up the Book of Deuteronomy and began a new adventure in the Book of Joshua, only to be reminded that the words spoken by God year’s prior are coming to pass: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land…” Joshua 1:2 The raising up of a new generation of leaders is so important. The Gospel is worth propagation and therefore always requires a fresh infusion of life and vitality that comes from the future of our movement: our young people.
Dead but not Forgotten
Notice the text: “Moses my servant is dead…” (vs. 2). In no translation or paraphrase does this denote that Moses is no longer to be honored or esteemed for his incredibly valuable contribution to the Kingdom. All throughout the Book of Joshua we read of a blessed man that led the Israelites as far as God would allow. In no way are we given permission as Christians to speak negatively about our forefathers and those that have paved the way for the next generation. I believe, though, that the greatest form of honor is to partner with them by investing in those that are emerging into leadership.
Encourage those Emerging
Moses was told to encourage Joshua his assistant. Does the emerging generation get your encouragement or do they only receive your chastisement and ridicule? Are they perceived only as slackers, wannabe’s, usurpers or rebels without a cause? If so, it’s unfortunate, because God desires to manifest Himself through this emerging generation and I believe he wants to use us as His hands of consecration and commissioning. In the New Testament, Barnabas was known as the “son of encouragement.” In other words, his name denoted his nature. His designation was his demeanor. Acts 11 records just one of many examples of Barnabas’ encouraging spirit and this time it involved a young, upstart named Saul. We know him now as Paul the Apostle. I often wonder if he would have ever became a Paul if it
wasn’t for the encouragement of Barnabas and the interest that he took in the “long-shot” with the dicey reputation. How many potential Paul’s are there within our sphere of inﬂuence that are trapped in the externals of Saul – complete with a history; recognized as a troublemaker; and misunderstood by the populace? Can we be an encourager of those that are emerging? I believe we can and here are but a few ways to do so.
1. Step Back
On a recent ﬂight from Montana to Seattle I did something I don’t normally do. I tend to be prone to sickness so I rarely if ever look out the window. However on this particular ﬂight my stomach was just ﬁne so I risked a glimpse of the Seattle/Tacoma skyline. What I discovered through the small window was nothing short of incredible. I could see just about everything from my vantage point. It was beautiful and expansive. I wish I had that kind of perspective in leadership matters. Rather than spouting off a reply to the latest “crisis’ I would love to have a long season of hovering at 80,000 feet in order to formulate my position and deliver it with wisdom and discernment. That opportunity is often not afforded until after the fact. Like they say: “Hindsight is always 20/20.” As a leader, try taking a step back to survey the landscape of the emerging generation. What do you see? Ask the Lord to give you both a historical and a prophetic look into the expansion o the broader Kingdom. We have been on this earth for such a brief time and when we are gone who will take our place? Have we made room for those individuals to grow into their leadership potential? Have we taken a step back to get the perspective necessary to embrace and release the younger generation into valid and vital ministry? Often, this perspective is catalyzed through the memories of those that paved the way for our entrance and reception into ministry circles.
2. Step In
To become an encourager to the emerging generation one must take the initiative. The gap that exists between our philosophy and our practice is in our desire to actively step into that important role. The ﬁrst point of action is to recognize your role in leadership expansion. I’m forever grateful to those that embraced their responsibility to mentor me in ministry. I am one of many that are forever changed because of their investment. Secondly, realize their potential. It may not always be as obvious as we would like but with a little work and a whole lot of vision the potential of the next generation will make itself apparent. Are you looking for it? Lastly give room for their emerging gifts. Did Paul take a chance on Timothy? You bet he did! There are many other Timothy’s in the wings with the gifts and abilities for vibrant ministry. By stepping into this place of encourager and releaser, the next generation will sense the strength and support needed to boldly move ahead.
3. Step Aside
Stick with me now. It might be tempting to tune out my thoughts on this point because you’re not ready or willing to step aside. Trust me: you have much to offer and those in the next generation need to assimilate your years of experience. That’s why I think it’s important for you to step aside. Consider the Holy Spirit. In the original language he is called the paraclete. It means “the one who comes along side.” The Holy Spirit’s role is to partner with believers in their spiritual journey. We are no longer orphans. Jesus’ ascension into heaven, to the right hand of the Father, made way for the Holy Spirit to “come along side” us in a way that is simply not possible if Jesus still walked the earth. How many orphan leaders do we have out there in need of a paraclete? What would happen if every mature, Godly leader came along side of a younger, emerging leader and imparted the tools necessary for longevity in ministry? Pass the baton but don’t fade into the darkness – we still need you to be involved and persistent in your encouragement. Don’t step DOWN – just aside!
4. Step Out
The Word of the Lord to Joshua was so clear: “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people….” The entire ﬁrst chapter of Joshua is about trying to prop up this emerging leader for the task ahead. “You can do it…I’ll be with you…do not be terriﬁed….” These were intimidating days for Joshua and it certainly didn’t help that he had to follow…well…Moses. You know: one of the greatest leaders of all time! Joshua had to step out conﬁdently in who God had made him to be and in what God made him to do. This emerging and inheriting generation needs that kind of courage. My ﬁrst ministry assignment was at the age of 18. I then became a senior pastor at the age of 27. I desperately desired people who would step out and come along side of me in my formative ministry years. Thankfully some did. But, now at 38 years old, I am increasingly recognizing my part in the “leadership continuum.” I can now be a Moses to someone. What a privilege! What a blessing! But, oh, what a challenge! My encouragement to you and to those to follow us is to step out. Don’t be scared. Be strong and courageous and trust the Ancient of Days will continue to make Himself know from generation to generation! John E. Fehlen March 19, 2003 Rewritten: September 2009
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?