How to Become a Cross-Generational Leader
No one in human history has ever demonstrated a greater ability to reach around his own generation, reach ahead of his generation, and reach behind his generation than Jesus Christ. Forward leaders set themselves apart by stepping up to the gigantic, ongoing challenged modeled by Jesus Christ – this is just what forward leaders do.
Forward leaders embrace three elements of leadership that open their influence to a cross-generational audience:
- They Lead Relationally
- They Lead Respectfully
- They Lead Responsibly
People are no longer motivated to follow our leadership because we have a position or title. People are only motivated to follow our leadership when we care. We cannot lead at our best until we take the time to build relationships with other people.
Jesus led all people relationally. He cared not only for His cause, but also for people. If we are going to overcome the generational divide that exists today, we have to lead relationally. This means we have to take the initiative with others, even with those from a different generation. We cannot wait until people contact us – we may need to reach out first to them.
Cross-generational leaders respect other people. They may have an issue with what a person believes or says, but they always esteem that person. Caution: Forward leaders will be attacked, and when they are, they need to respond respectfully.
Yesterday we read 1 Timothy 5:1-2. This passage pictures for us this very call to lead respectfully:
- Do not rebuke older men, but treat them like a father.
- Treat younger men like they are your brothers.
- Honor older women like you would your mother.
- Treat younger women as sisters, but in an appropriate way.
The generational divide ends in Jesus Christ. He brings everyone together. Value others. Respect others. Honor others. This is what forward leaders do.
Leading responsibly sees the potential in others, regardless of their generation. Leading responsibly is getting to know other people, listening to them, and valuing who they are—not just what they can bring to your life and leadership. Leading responsibly is standing on the shoulders of those older than you to reach heights they would never be able to reach. Leading responsibly is mentoring and developing those younger than you so your life lives on through them, even after you are gone. Leading responsibly is leading cross-generationally.
Each of us makes a choice about how we lead others, view others, treat others, and value other daily. Today, pray:
“Lord, fill me today with the Holy Spirit. Empower me with Your Spirit today. Lord, compel me to see the potential in all people. Lord, build within me a desire to seek mentorship, and enable me to mentor and buildup those in my sphere of influence.”
Dr. Ronnie Floyd is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Senior Pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas for 38 years. He is the author of multiple books, including Forward: Seven Distinguishing Marks for Future Leaders.