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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

 

The 3 biggest challenges facing the Salvation Army

Last night I had the opportunity to talk to an older Christian friend of mine. We were talking about some of the ideas I had about lifestyle choices and what it meant to live out our Christian values today. I was talking as a young person, full of enthusaism and thinking that what I was sharing with this older Christian was so far out of the box, so hip, modern and so alternative that he wouldn’t know what had hit him. His response was “well as a Christian heading towards retirement I guess that is what my wife and I have done. We moved away from where we had lived for most of our life and where we had brought up our children. We decided that we had everything that we needed and so we decided to make a change. We knew that we didn’t need to devote all our time to working so we could buy more stuff. Yes it means sometimes we go without, but it also means we have more time to do what God wants us to do.”

Here was a gentleman, who really isn’t that far off retirement, who was saying something that had just seconds before come out of my mouth. When it came out of my mouth, it sounded like the visions of youthful enthusiasm. When it came out of his mouth, it sounded like the realisation of a man who had the experience to know what he was talking about.

The Salvation Army has always recognised the potential of the young people within its ranks. The challenge today is harnessing that potential and mobilising our young people into responsible leadership.

Young people need to be mobilised in leadership, but they also need to be mentored and have leadership actively modelled to them by older more experienced leaders.

The problem with young people is that we tend to think we know best. We are very good at pointing out what others are doing wrong (just ask any school student about their principal). But put us in charge and we can easily look like a fish out of water. I know from my own experience that it is easy to have ideas about what we want to see happen, but trying to put them into action is another thing all together.

The positives of engaging young people in leadership are self evident. They are passionate, energetic and have some great ideas. Most importantly of all however is that the young leaders of today will be the older leaders of tomorrow and if they aren’t developed then we are in trouble.

As my chat with my friend showed, alot of the time old people do ‘get it’, if we actually take the time to talk to them.

As I have already said, I think that the challenge for the Salvation Army is in providing leadership for our young leaders. Older heads are needed to provide encouragement and critique for the younger leaders. Older heads are needed to provide the framework within which young leaders can thrive. Older heads are needed to assist young leaders in getting on with it.

The wisdom and experience that comes from those who have been there before is invaluable in the development of those who are yet to go there.

The danger for the Salvation Army is that those who don’t learn from history are bound to repeat it.

Comments:
I really like this post Liam! And I think I'm in much agreeance (yes, I love making up words!) with it. I am probably a young person who says, "This needs to happen...that needs to happen..." too, but I do realise that seeking help, advice...WISDOM, from an older person can be very useful. It can save many mistakes and many hurts or anything (Not just in church context). But, on the contary, by MAKING those mistakes for yourself, some people might be able to learn easier from them...rather than step right over them because someone led their way. Does that make sense?
 
I agree with your second idea, that we learn best from the mistakes we make ourself.

That is where the older head should be available to help us learn from our mistake.
Rather than saying "I stuffed up, I won't do that again" perhaps an older head will help us see that what we did was make a mistake that stuffed up an other wise great idea.
 
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