How to Lead People Older Than You

How to Lead People Older Than You

Three tips for setting up a great relationship
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When I started in my current position, I was fearful that I wouldn’t be able to lead and care for our small-group leaders because I didn’t have an extra ten years of experience on them from which I could draw. What I failed to recognize was that sharing God’s truth transcends barriers of age and life experience. I pray before each meeting that the Holy Spirit will give me the ears to truly hear what is being communicated, the correct words to reach the other person’s heart, and the obedience to follow his promptings. When the Holy Spirit is leading our meetings, they always go better!

When looking at the instructions Paul gives Timothy, it would be shortsighted to ignore those on conduct. All leaders, but especially young leaders, must remember to behave in a way that makes others want to follow them. We all make mistakes—leaders included—but how you react to the hard times can be an example or a distraction to those paying attention.

Further, respect is not automatically granted, so we must behave in a way that earns it. I work regularly with an older couple who once made a comment that they feel disrespected when people are late to meetings. You had better believe I have several Google alerts set before each of my meetings with them to ensure I’m on time. They’ve told me a way they feel respected, so the least I can do is act in a way that honors them.

Leading and caring for people is an honor, especially when those who are a few steps ahead in life allow us to serve them. If we walk in humble confidence, remembering we have a unique perspective to offer, asking questions, and admitting when we’re in over our heads, we’ll be able to serve our small-group leaders well—no matter the age difference.

—Laura Holland is Small Group Pastor at National Community Church in Washington, D.C.

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