September 28, 2016
I was sitting in a room filled with pastors who were discussing issues relevant to our profession. As I glanced around the room I realized that I was the “old guy” listening to a younger generation of men who are committed to their ministry. Some of the comments were refreshing – showing insights relevant to current challenges. I was encouraged. Other statements seemed more searching. I was concerned.
At times I wanted to talk about “how it used to be done.” I refrained from reminiscing because I did not want to spoil the energy and tone of the meeting. And “the way we used to do it” is not necessarily the way it should be done today. While I realize today’s challenges are much different, and I think more difficult, than those of earlier decades, I sense a loss of some basics that work in all generations in any place for most everyone. Experience is a teacher.
My mind wrestled with how much of the past should be repeated and what should be let go. And how do we continue to use tried and proven helpful tools while adapting them to current thinking. More concerning is how to share the benefit of experience while allowing people to develop at their own pace, make their needed mistakes and learn from the process. We want them to become who they need to be, not a copy of us.
As I have pondered that meeting, several thoughts have surfaced:
- I have been extremely fortunate to experience a learning process in the context of people who are patient and supportive. It hurts me to see some of this apparently absent from current relationships.
- I need to find ways to come alongside those who desire to learn from “old guys” but to do it in a way that they can avoid hearing “This is how we used to do it.” There are ways to share good things of our past without sounding like we did it all right and you need to follow that pattern.
- This process is kind of like cleaning out my cupboard. A few items are worth hanging on to but most of it needs to go away. I don’t want people to wonder, “Why did he hang on to that?!”
Pastor Bill Ehmann