These are some helpful thoughts for young leaders. I wish I learned some of these lessons earlier. Some of these lessons I am still learning.
Integrity is your greatest asset. You cannot magically create ministry experience that will convince older generations that you can be savvy at deacons’ meetings and sensitive at a deathbed. But as a young person in ministry, you do have a certain unspoiled sense about you. You may come across as naive at times, true, but you likely also possess a certain energy and idealism that has a deep appeal to Christians of all generations. At the very least, older, “wiser” folks will be reluctant to disappoint you; at best, they will see in you a chance to make a fresh start and move beyond previous conflicts or difficulties.
Receive other generations with joy. Related to this is your ability to gratefully receive the gifts other generations offer you. A mature faith realizes that every stage of life has strengths and weaknesses because we are shaped by our life experiences. As a young father, I have a certain slant on the world that I did not before I had kids, and I will have a still different slant when I am the father of teenagers and then an empty-nester … I also sometimes chafed under the older generation, when I felt they were treating me like a kid. I had to learn that these gifts were offered with the kindest of intentions; once I could see that, I could be genuinely grateful for their gifts offered in humble kindness. In turn, they were willing to be grateful to me for my gifts. Authentic gratitude for another generation’s contribution helps them to be grateful for the gifts of your youth, rather than threatened by them.
Be aware of—and honest about—your weaknesses. In many small churches, there is already a mutual suspicion between clergy and laity. Laypeople sometimes think that clergy have designs on changing the church in an unwelcome way, and pastors are often angry that laity seem to lack their vision. Self-righteousness inflames this delicate situation when the congregation picks up on the pastor’s frustration and feels predictably frustrated with the pastor. Self-righteousness is a common coping mechanism for young pastors, and it is reinforced by many of our educational institutions and denominational structures. True, nothing feels quite so good as venting about your benighted church when you gather with colleagues for a meeting, but it is ultimately that self-righteousness which inclines people to ignore you and erodes your authority.
A lot more good thoughts in the full article.