By TaNikka Sheppard
NOTE: I am not asking for money. Please keep reading.
So often I hear older leaders call young people, “leaders of tomorrow.” I guess this would be okay if they were referring to children. The problem is that this phrase is frequently used when trying to affirm people who are in their 30’s and 40’s.
This attempt to acknowledge the potential greatness and future possibilities of younger leaders, too often results in a condescending disregard of the work, platform, reach and the influence that younger people have TODAY.
Consequently, I have stopped using this phrase, even when referring to teens and pre-teens. I understand that their most influential days may be ahead, but I also realize that these students have the immeasurable capacity and capability to impact the world TODAY.
Therefore, here are three reasons why you should “share today” …
- TOMORROW IS NOT PROMISED
In this everchanging world we have no idea of what tomorrow will bring. Why should younger leaders wait around for you to graciously grant them a modicum degree of respect and acknowledgment for what God is already doing in their lives? If you are going to wait until they do things like you, talk like you, or work like you, you will keep waiting and they will keep moving.
“Sharing today” helps to eliminate the procrastinatory paradigms and practices that delays and defers the engagement of younger leaders.
- THEY ARE NOT TOO YOUNG
Perhaps saying “leaders of tomorrow” makes older leaders feel young and relevant. “Sharing today” does not undermine YOUR relevance or significance. No one is retiring you. Furthermore, there are younger leaders that you may be treating as children that you need to perceptively transition and view as colleagues. This is not a request for you to give up your platform and succeed it to someone younger TODAY. It is simply an invitation to open your eyes to what God has already placed in them and take it seriously.
If I used a sports analogy, this post would be an appeal for younger leaders to be allowed off the proverbial bench. Yet, in order for them to be on the bench they need to be on the team. In order for them to be on the team, they must first be allowed to try out for your team. However, when we look at the reach and impact of dynamic young leaders today, perhaps it is us who should be trying out for their teams.
- “SHARING TODAY” WILL BLESS YOU
What if the young leaders that are delegated for “tomorrow” actually have innovative solutions to some of the greatest problems you are dealing with today? Would you listen?
What if I told you that most of the dynamic young leaders in my acquaintance are yearning for mentors and wise advisors? Therefore, by “sharing today” you will not lose authority. You will actually gain greater influence. Would you take them into consideration?
What if I told you that the “leader of tomorrow” compliment is actually a patronizing disparagement that underscores the young leader’s perceived state of immaturity and unreadiness? Instead, a greater compliment is to exorcise the internalized preconceptions, unconstructive comparisons, and insulting assumptions of ignorance that stubbornly prohibit younger leaders from having roles of authority. Would you be open to such feedback?
In order to make the paradigmatic and behavioral shifts that are mentioned above older leaders must first be willing to continually engage in self-analysis and institutional introspection.
While I am not asserting that younger leaders have reached their full capacity, I am arguing that they will have a better chance of reaching it tomorrow, if you will “SHARE TODAY”.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
- When was the last time that I referred to someone as a leader of tomorrow? Why did I call him/her this?
- What can I learn from this leader today?
- What is ONE thing that I can do to “share today” with a younger leader?