New Generation of Leadership Transference…Leaving a Lasting Legacy
By Doug Stringer
We are at a pivotal juncture in history, where the torch of leadership is passing to a new generation. In times past spiritual leadership was handed down from generation to generation. The younger generations recognized the need to glean from the life experiences, wisdom and counsel of the former, thus receiving their impartation, blessing and favor.
In our fast-paced independent culture, we are hard pressed at times to see that kind of mentoring at work today. But, there is a new generation of leaders who not only needs it but also wants it from us.
In the Spring of 2004, we hosted a “think tank” and “roundtable” for GenEdge and Emerging Leaders. What started as a small gathering escalated into an attendance of more than 60 leaders from across the nation. It included youth and college ministry leaders, worship leaders, pastors, marketplace ministers, prayer leaders and intercessors, and others. One of the recurring theme’s was a cry of a generation in pursuit of connectedness and fathering.
One young minister said, “I got saved, was raised in church, backslid, recommitted, and struggled for years because I didn’t have a spiritual father”. The ministry he now leads is centered on spiritual fathering. “If it isn’t relational”, he said, “we don’t do it.”
Another leader mentioned that fathers may recognize the giftings in their children, but may not always know how to go to war for the destinies in them. Rusty, a pastor and longtime friend from Sealy, Texas, puts it this way. “Many times, there is a treasure inside a youth’s heart but they don’t recognize it, so they run after the treasure in someone else’s heart. A spiritual father has to help them see the treasure in their own hearts.
This NextGen and Emerging Generation of leaders are full of vision and passion. In fact, I can see Joel 2 and Malachi 4 in the Old Testament, as well as Acts chapter 2 in the New Testament, giving us a glimpse into this emerging generation. It’s a Prophetic Generation of visionary and passionate young leaders, empowered by the dreams and wisdom of the former generation, linked together for the purposes of the Lord.
In the days of Elisha, a guild of prophets and sons of the prophets, recognized the mantle of leadership and fathering that was upon him. They found themselves limited, and wanted to go where they could expand and build. They asked Elisha’s blessing to go. He was then asked to go with them. When they lost the Axe Head (2 Kings 6:5), they asked him for wisdom and guidance. He simply asked them to take him to where they had lost it.
Likewise, there are times when we may lose our edge, get cloudy in our vision or find our passion waning, and we need to reflect on where we may have lost it. Oftentimes, when leaders come to me for counsel or guidance, I ask a similar question. “Where do you sense you lost your edge, your passion, your vision?”
In my youth, although I was full of vision and passion for the purposes of God, I quickly realized the need for the wisdom and favor of those who have gone before me. There have been foundations laid, sacrifices made and a price paid, for us to build upon. We cannot build on faulty foundations. Our future is connected to how we honor or dishonor those who’ve gone before us. It’s also connected to how the former generation blesses and releases the emerging generation.
People will serve and make sacrifices for what they are passionate about. We can be hired to do work and receive a paycheck, but we will only leave a lasting legacy to the Glory of God when our vision is greater than ourselves. Hirelings can live for a paycheck, but God’s Visionaries and Dreamers live to make a difference and leave a legacy to future generations.
I was privileged to have known Rick Husband. He was an astronaut and the commander of the Space Shuttle Columbia for it’s 28th mission. He and his wife, Evelyn, invited me to speak at a pre-launch reception in Florida in January of 2003. At the reception, Christian singer Steve Green sang one of Rick’s favorite songs, “God of Wonders”, (Rick took a CD copy of that song with him on the Shuttle.) Can you imagine waking up and looking out of the window of the Space Shuttle to the music and lyrics of that song?
Rick had wanted to be an astronaut his entire life. He loved his work, but also realized there are more important things in life than the space program. The measure of his success was not only measured in being an astronaut, but in his love and devotion as a husband, father and ambassador for Christ, which has left a lasting legacy. One of my spiritual fathers was Dr. Edwin Louis Cole, founder of the Christian Mens Network. He used to say, “Christlikeness and manhood are synonymous.” Rick Husband lived this principle in his life.
One of the things I found out about Rick Husband from Evelyn, was that each day he would have a devotion time with his daughter and son. Since he was going to be on the Shuttle mission for 16 days, and didn’t want to miss the daily devotions with his children, he decided to make 16 video messages for them to watch—one for each day he would be in Space. Each day they still had devotion with dad. Tragically, we know what happened on that fateful sixteenth day, as the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated during re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. Rick and the rest of the seven-member crew did not make it home that day, but the lives they lived before entering the portals of eternity will influence the generation to come.
Rick Husband was a man whose life foundation was solid, built on the principles of God’s Word. His commitment to the Lord and his family were steadfast. The legacy of his life example continues on through his family and all those who were impacted by his life.
When I was a young Christian, I discovered my need for wisdom and guidance from those who had gone before me. I’m grateful to the Lord for bringing men and women in the faith that made a mark on my life. People like Edwin Louis Cole and Leonard Ravenhill who embraced me, challenged and provoked me to grow deeper in the Lord. There are so many champions of the faith who have paid a price, made sacrifices, and laid foundations for us to build upon. They have left a lasting legacy for us and the new generation of leaders.
Recently, one of my staff members came across some cassette tapes from May 1992. It was from a retreat some of our staff and volunteers had with Leonard Ravenhill at Calvary Commission in East Texas. A few years earlier Brother Ravenhill began to reach out to me and embraced me like a spiritual grandson. He had already had a huge impact in my life from his books and teachings, but the personal relationship that developed has forever deepened my walk.
During our staff retreat with Brother Ravenhill, I can still remember someone coming into the meeting, mentioning he had been on the mission field and wanted to know if it was okay to be a fly on the wall, so he could hear Brother Ravenhill. It was Steve Hill. A friendship began.
Men like Dr. Edwin Louis Cole, Leonard Ravenhill, David Wilkerson, Steve Hill, and others have deeply impacted my life personally. Each has left a lasting legacy to the next generation. I have wept and groaned deeply over our loss as they entered their reward. It’s also a sobering responsibility for those of us who remain, to live our lives in such a way to also leave a legacy to the Glory of God.
Today, more than ever, we need a new generation of leaders who will meet with HIM daily to gain His perspective and be guided by His Word. We need leaders who recognize the need for a fresh revelation of the work of the Cross and the power of the Resurrection, to receive insight, wisdom, prophetic clarity and vision from God that will enable them to lead others into an understanding of God’s Truth and Purposes.
A.W. Tozer, in “The Gift of Prophetic Insight”, wrote about the importance of understanding present conditions. He said it well; “Today we need prophetic preachers; not preachers of prophecy merely, but preachers with a gift of prophecy…We need the gift of discernment again in our pulpits. It is not ability to predict that we need, but the anointed eye, the power of spiritual penetration and interpretation, the ability to appraise the religious scene as viewed from God’s position, and to tell us what is actually going on. “
There is a desperate need for a people with prophetic insight who can both illuminate the Word of God and interpret the present times. Scripture speaks of leaders like these in 1 Chronicles 12:32. The sons of Issachar understood the times and knew what Israel should do. Prophetic understanding and the indwelling of God’s Spirit are no longer for a choice few, as was the case in the Old Testament. God is looking to empower a new generation of righteous leaders. If we are to leave a legacy and pass the mantle of leadership to the emerging generation we must step into that power.
Ezekiel (chapter 22) describes a disobedient nation of people, much like what we are seeing today. He describes five types of people—the five P’s I call them—who had all turned from the ways of the Lord. The Lord through Ezekiel addresses and calls out the Princes, the Politicians, the Prophets, the Priests (ministers and pastors), as well as the People for allowing the shedding of innocent blood in the land, allowing corruption and unrighteousness to prevail. Many were overlooking what was going on around them for personal preference and profit. In verse 30, The Lord says, “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.” Today, God is looking for faithful priests, prophets and judges who will rise up as a new generation of righteous leaders.
God is raising up a new generation of prophetic voices of courage. We need courageous voices of prophetic clarity to resound from the pulpits of the land, as well as righteousness to permeate through the halls of politics. We need Princes, Politicians, Priests, Prophets, and the People, who love God and others more than they love themselves. We need a generation of Samuels, young and old to Arise!
While Samuel represented a new generation of righteous judge and prophet, he also carried the God-given ability of recognizing the calling and gifts in young leaders. He was used by God to call them forth into their destinies. J.J., a minister in College Station, Tx considers me a spiritual mentor and father. I remember getting a note from him that said, “In a man’s life and ministry, I believe he must be pointed out by great men of faith. Even Jesus was pointed out by His Father. Doug, you came and pointed me out.” Today, J.J. and his ministry team are doing the same, determined that no young life in his city would slip through the cracks.
This emerging generation may seem extreme, radical, passionate and full of zeal, but when they are called out by older generation of Samuels, they can be emboldened and empowered to walk into their destiny. Like John the Baptist, the Lord is calling a generation out of the wilderness, clothing them with His prophetic mantle to become standard bearers of righteousness, purity and purpose. They are desperate for change and for those who will come alongside them to give them affirmation, acceptance and approval. God is uniting the wisdom and resources of the former generation with the passion and zeal of the emerging generation.
This present generation needs more than our words. They need to see a revival of character and authenticity. We need leaders with a renewed passion and pursuit for God’s Presence, which will ignite a leadership awakening –leaders who, like Samuel, will not look to the outward appearances, but into the heart of those He is calling forth. May we see with the eyes of the Spirit to recognize the treasure within the emerging generation of leaders. God’s measure of success or greatness is not the same as man’s. Success is to leave a lasting legacy to the Glory of God that goes far beyond our human accomplishments.
Our true legacy comes not from the sermons we preach or how many follow us on twitter or other social media. It’s not the size of our church or ministries. The lives we live before we enter the portals of eternity will determine the influence we have and will leave for the next generation.
We need leaders who live lives of humility, holiness, honor and honesty. Our private posture affects our public position. It’s what we do and who we are behind closed doors when no one else may see us that determine the power of God in us–or lack of it–in public. Our private choices do have public and corporate consequences.
May we be reminded that our legacy is not in brick and mortar, but in the lives of those we are called to serve. While men reach for thrones to build their own kingdoms, Jesus reached for a towel to wash men’s feet. While men pursue exalted and high places, Jesus, The Exalted One, left His Highest Place to pursue men.
If we are to leave a lasting legacy and transfer the mantle of leadership to the coming generation, then we must ourselves be committed to more than building our own kingdoms. May we be like Samuel who represented a new generation of righteous judge and prophet. He had a God-given ability to recognize the calling and gifts in young leaders. Likewise, may we call forth the new generation of leaders to walk into their destinies.