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by Winfield Bevins
6 lessons on leading men older than you
What are the biggest considerations when you have been placed in a position where you will be leading older men? Ryan Williams shares six he’s learned.
Being a young Christian leader is both a great joy and a great challenge. For me, I believe I am exactly where God has called me and I feel really blessed to be put into a place of leadership. I am fully aware that I do not have the experience, knowledge, or wisdom to pull this off on my own. God has graciously placed local elders of the church I lead around me to serve the church and to help me lead.
The elders I serve with all have children. I do not. They have all been married for many years. I have not. They have all been faithfully walking with the Lord for decades. I am still in my first decade of being a Christian. They have much life experience and two of them have even had their current jobs for over 20 years.
“Encourage [an older man] as you would a father.” 1 Timothy 5:1
The Lord has been gracious to me by giving me life experience and much help as I have grown as a follower of Jesus. He has also been gracious to me by placing these men in my life who are so very different from me.
Even so, I am responsible to lead the church and to be the leader amongst the elders of the church we serve. I am in a situation in which some young Christian men will find themselves, especially those who are leading ministries in established churches.
Are you in a similar situation? What are the biggest considerations when you have been placed in a position where you will be leading older men?
If you are a young man, do not be afraid to lead. Jesus has placed you in that position for his purposes. Take on the challenge of leading his church and lead those he has placed around you. Here’s what I’ve learned about leading those who are older than I am (so far).
1. Be respectable
1 Cor. 13:11; 1 Tim. 4:12
Mutual respect is paramount. As a younger man, you will need to make sure that you act, dress, and live in a way that is respectable. If you act like a boy, you will be treated like a boy and not like a leader. Men follow men, not titles. Whatever your title, if you don’t act in a respectable way, the older men you should be leading will not follow.
2. Be teachable
Prov. 1:8; 8:33
If you are not teachable and instead believe you have everything figured out, you will not be able to effectively lead your team, and in turn, your church or ministry. The older men you are leading are wise and godly and most of them desire to speak into the direction of the church. Invite them to develop areas where you are weak. You will be greatly blessed by them and what they have to say.
3. Be thankful
Older men are a great blessing. They have many things to teach you. They do not want you to hold them up like a trophy or be disingenuous, but genuinely thank them for the wisdom they have passed on to you.
4. Be encouraging
1 Tim. 5:1
You do not have to have the same experiences, be in the same life stage, or have the same knowledge to encourage someone. Older men are not robots and still need encouragement. They do amazing work for the church and love it greatly, but ministry is tough business, and we all need to be encouraged. So encourage them, and remind them of why we all labor together and push for the goal together.
5. Be prayerful
Know how to pray for these men. Pray for their families, their jobs, their influence, and their ministry. Be a praying leader who in all humility supports the eldership team through prayer.
6. Be loving
Overall you need to simply love them. Jesus tells us to “love one another.” If you genuinely love Jesus, your church, and your elders, you will be able to lead those Jesus has placed around you. If you don’t, you can try every trick in the book and it won’t do you any good. We follow Jesus because he first loved us. Your elders will follow you if you love them. Be quick to repent and unafraid to take blame. Lead with courage and conviction, but let the mark of