Reflections on global leadership in community: Millennials

It was on my flight out to the global leadership gathering in Germany, that I began to reflect on the challenge of involving future generations with mission. The Business Life magazine from BA, contained the following quote,

‘One of the best ways to be equipped for the future is to give more responsibility to younger employees, says Brent Hoberman, who recently took part in the Evening Standard’s Young Progress makers event aimed at addressing some of the challenges the new generation is facing. Hoberman believes the speed of technological change is the greatest of these: “The young need the right skills to cope with the future. In the new economy, creativity will be crucial.” And young Londoners have an advantage, he says: simply by living in a city that is so multicultural, they will be likely to be receptive to different ideas.’

Of course, this issue of the magazine was all about London, so clearly they were talking up the city. But, there is something about growing up in a multicultural, multi-racial, technologically advanced metropolis that has an impact on the way a generation will approach life.

For mission organisations, we face a challenge of how to work with this new generation – even how to hand leadership over to them. We aren’t, yet, doing it very well.

I’m not, technically, a millennial, but I do identify with most experiences of the early millennials. This article, Why millennials are leaving the church, by Rachel Held Evans, could have been written about me.

Reflections on global missional leadership in community: Intentionality

Personal Reflection

To give some background, like so many people in similar roles, I have never intentionally sought a leadership position. My dream was never to develop a team, take on challenges, or create a different world (I really wanted to be a radio DJ, that’s maybe another story), but over the years I’ve been allowed more experience and more opportunity to do just that. I’ve also discovered that I like this kind of thing and maybe I fit this much better than I would any radio studio.

In some ways, however, I feel like I’ve missed a step. In never intentionally seeking leadership roles I’ve not, until more recently, intentionally developed myself in this area.

Last week’s consultation helped me to reflect on my personal situation and reminded me that it would be helpful to get involved leadership conversations and intentionally take time to reflect and develop personally in the area of leadership. I should probably say that it’s not that I see myself as a bad or ill-equipped leader, but I know with more intentionality I can grow in this area.

Other intentional applications

The kinds of consultations we have in the Alliance don’t always result in fixed conclusions. We discuss ideas, develop some theories, raise new questions, but we don’t go away with a 5-point plan of how to apply what we’ve covered. I understand why some find that frustrating, but for me, it raises the question of what I can do within my sphere of influence to develop some of the themes with my team.

In my earlier post, I listed four areas that I was impacted by last week. Intentionality; millennials; globalisation, nationalism and polycentrism; and change and opportunity – in being intentional, it’s now down to my community to interpret these areas into our working practices. That’s me deciding to be intentional in what I do.

Reflections on global missional leadership in community: personal thoughts

The room that was buzzing with discussion from all corners of the world is now empty. Last week was both excellent, and hard work. Excellent to be involved in that network, and to intentionally listen to different groups and points-of-view, knowing that at the core, our desire was to see God glorified and his mission advanced in each of our contexts. Hard work, in that it’s sometimes difficult to listen to and accept points-of-view that challenge your preconceived ideas.

Having said all that, the hard work really starts now. Sitting in a room, where you’ve gathered for the purpose of discussing global missional leadership in community, it’s easy to see everything as possible. Leaving that environment and going back to the daily routine (whatever that may be) and not losing all the good thoughts from the week is where the real challenge begins.

How do I take the discussions of last week, develop some personal outcomes and bring them to bear in the areas where I have some influence?

Some things I’ve been thinking about in relation to leadership:

Intentionality: It’s easy for me to think I’m in leadership by accident and just rely on personal attributes and experience to see me through. But, I as I find myself entering a new season of life and a new role with new responsibilities, it’s important that I rethink the context of my work and what I need to lead well in this new context. I need to be intentional in equipping myself to lead.

I can also make a choice to lead when the situation arises, or be intentional about my leadership. It’s very easy to wait for the ‘right time’, whatever that may look like, but I’m starting to see that I can have some influence over enabling the time to be right.

Millennials: Almost all involved in this consultation acknowledged that there is a challenge in enabling millennials (Gen Y) join mission within our organisations. It’s not that we aren’t open to the next generation, it’s just that our systems and structures are so often formed around the boomer generation that those born in the 80s or later don’t feel that they fully fit with us.

Globalisation, nationalism and polycentrism: Influence and leadership now comes from all over the place. There are Christian centres of influence outside of Europe and North America that should and can lead in a global environment. How do I take on a posture of learning and openness with my brothers and sisters from other countries and still contextualise for my own context?

Change and opportunity: We are all dealing with change. In the car travelling to the airport today, my colleagues were talking about how the pace of change in the last 25 years is equivalent to the pace of change over the previous 200 years. There’s a leadership challenge in there. How do we lead in an environment of continual change? As digital technology continues to advance, travel becomes easier, but maybe political and ideological challenges have a significant impact on our world, how do we lead within this?

There’s more to think through with all of this, and other things I’ve not yet mentioned. I’ll try to develop my thoughts in the days to come, but I’m now at the airport getting ready to fly home. It’s time to go and find my gate and get back to my family.

Global leadership in community final day

It’s too early to properly reflect on this week’s conversations. We have covered a lot on the subject of leadership in community, and really have only just scratched the surface. There are more discussions to have and further to go, but we’ve started.

Below are just a couple of quotes and the questions from today. I’ll follow up with some proper reflections at some point over the weekend.

Integration of discussion

Our prayer time together was a living expression of what it means to be leaders in community. We belong to one another because we are the body of Christ.

We have discussed multiple, complex concepts – leadership, the mission of God, community. These aren’t easy topics.

Questions

Who are the communities that I interact with as a leader?
What insights did I gain from our conversations this week that either confirms or challenges my understanding of myself as a leader, or myself as a leader-in-community?
Considering the previous question, what are the most important two or three things I would need to, or wish to change in my approach to leadership?
What will I need to do to make this change?
How do we expand this conversation within and beyond the Alliance – deeper and broader?

A leadership consultation

The Alliance has been holding consultations since 2006. These are intentional gatherings of people from our community involve participants from Europe, Americas, Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Sometimes we hold one large gathering, at other times we hold smaller, regional events. Regardless of the format, the intention is to allow everyone the opportunity to participate and be heard, and not one part of the world to dominate the conversation.

Next week I get to be part of one of these consultations, as we consider global leadership in community.

My invitation to the event put it like this,

‘As we look to the future we see a need for growing a body of leadership with a global missional mindset who understand the implications of friendship, community, globalisation, polycentrism and other issues impacting leadership engaging in God’s mission.’

I’m excited about this for so many reasons.

  • The opportunity to meet with such a diverse group of Christian leaders – all with different perspectives of what leadership means in their context and what the needs are – and learn from their experiences.
  • Taking time to listen to God together and consider what he may say into a conversation on global leadership.
  • Plus, another expectation that was listed on my invite, ‘Discover/imagine/dream together what leadership-in-community means, looks like and how it functions’ – sounds like fun to me.

Community

It’s probably worth explaining why ‘community’ keeps coming up in so much of the Alliance’s work.

One of the papers I’ve had to read in preparation for next week, says this,

‘The theme of community is of great relevance to the Alliance because it has grown to include over 100 interdependent self-governing organisations. How they relate to each other, and how the Alliance as an organisational structure relates to and supports these organisations is a growing challenge.’

Franklin, K.J., Niemandt, C.J.P., The Place of Friendship in the Mission of God

Not only is it an organisational challenge but community forms part of our foundation as an organisation. The first of our Principles of Community begins, ‘We are created for community and called to community’.

So, we will process our leadership thoughts in community and our outcomes will consider what leadership looks like in community.

No doubt I’ll come back with some thoughts after the consultation. If you want to follow what goes on during the week, or would be able to spare some time praying for what we are doing, look out for updates on my Facebook Page.