Leadership Development: Inspiration for a Lost Generation

“They said to me, ‘Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire. When I heard these things, I sat down and wept.”
Nehemiah 1: 3-4

As church insiders sound the alarm of impending danger ahead, who will save religious institutions from major disaster? What’s happening to our children? Have you witnessed the disobedience and rage in our children? This has created a spiritual dilemma in our churches. This fact is an indictment of America’s churches for not getting the job done. I have worked in various positions with youth and speak at local schools frequently. Currently, I coordinate a boy’s mentoring program at church, and I understand the many challenges for church leaders. We are simply not ready to prepare our children as followers nor as leaders. Most churches even ignore the fact that changes must be made in discipling our children who are lost in a pop culture frenzy. We need the right kind of leaders to inspire this new generation. A dictatorial style of leadership may work in the military environment but will fail to inspire our next church leadership.

At this moment in time, an organizational conflict is brewing. Today, many churches operate under a cloak of tradition while the vast majority of their young people operate in a postmodern culture. As a matter of fact, postmodernism challenges the very assumptions of Christianity. First, postmodernism questions the assumption of any goodness. Second, postmodernism questions religious traditions as an effective tool for organizational identity. Lastly, postmodernism rejects the premise of absolute truth. This clearly contradicts biblical teachings. Therefore, these postmodernism premises attack the heart of Christianity and thus, provide an avenue for organizational conflict between leaders and young followers. These young followers are viewed by older generations as independent mavericks who are loaded with pessimism and anger. Most youth advisors find it difficult to reach this “Generation Next” because some possess a “know everything” attitude.

Sadly, the current leadership structure is not prepared for a Generation X and Y congregation. Let me make my point. A transformational leader may be the most attractive leadership type, because this leadership type encourages, inspires, and concentrates on his followers’ needs; this person will be able to lead this talented generation. Transformational leadership is a process that focuses on changing people. Biblically speaking, there’s evidence to support using a transformational leader to inspire an emergent generation. In the Old Testament, Israel faced a crisis at the hands of the Babylonians. The city walls lay in ruins. This left the Jews remaining in the city helpless and unable to defend themselves. Those Jews who remained after the fall of their nation, the returned Jewish exiles, and those Jews who still remained in exile were the emergent generation. God answered their call with a transformational leader in Nehemiah, and he acted promptly. First, Nehemiah acted when hearing about his people’s condition, by requesting permission to return to Judah (Nehemiah 2:5). His actions were not a rush to judgment but can be characterized as faithful, cautious, courageous, and visionary. Secondly, Nehemiah prayed to God before making a decision, examined the problem, provided a vision of success, got follower involvement, and implemented the plan. In leading this emergent generation, Nehemiah faced heavy opposition from external forces (Nehemiah 4:3, 4:8, and 6:2); he also faced conflicts (Nehemiah 5:5) from within his organization. Thirdly, there is no biblical evidence that Nehemiah was trained to rebuild this wall as a project manager; however, he possessed a great administrative gift, a faithful heart, a passion for serving others, a desire for inspiring and encouraging followers, and a drive to obey God’s Word. Lastly, these characteristics are consistent with a transformational leader. Through Nehemiah’s leadership, the rebuilding of the city walls was completed in 52 days.

Clearly, God used a transformational leader to inspire a lost generation. Therefore, today’s churches need to consider for the future the lessons in this case where God used a transformational leader to inspire a nation under siege. Now is the time for preparation. Start today!

References:

Constable, T. (2004). Notes on Nehemiah. Retrieved on January 13, 2006, from http://www.soniclight.com.

Harding, K. (2000). Understanding Emerging Workforce Trends. Retrieved January 6, 2006, from http://www.dinet/article.php?article_id=129

Northouse, P. (2004). Leadership Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Stedman, R. (1989). Looking for a Few Good Men. Discovery Publishing, message: 11, catalog no: 4167.

© 2006 by Daryl D. Green

Leave a Comment