Today’s conversation is about leadership styles. Think about the first generation of Christian media leaders – D. James Kennedy, Jerry Falwell, Jim Dobson, and many others. By and large these were good men who were confronted with the incredible changes happening in the sixties. Their first reaction? Confrontation.
It was a logical choice given the timing and background of their ministries. But today, a new generation has grown up with the changes that started decades ago. They’ve grown up in an environment of more violent and sexually explicit entertainment, hostility toward religious faith, and extremes in the culture. As a result, they are more willing to engage others on a wide range of issues.
Another generational issue is the style of leadership itself. First generation leaders are direct and to the point. The are driven, and highly opinionated. They know what they want, how they want it, and where they want it delivered. That generation surrounds themselves with people who can execute – people who knew how to get things done. But second generation leaders don’t have to be so driven because they didn’t start the organization.
They’re usually much more laid back, people oriented and like to work with teams. They’re also more open to technology. That’s why second generation leaders surround themselves with idea people. They want everyone in on the conversation and create with others in mind.
Right now, the Christian community may in the greatest period of transition from first to second generation leaders in our history. And in some cases the tension is obvious. The unfortunate situation at the Crystal Cathedral between father (first generation) and son (second generation) is an perfect example of the different styles and expectations. We need to recognize the difference in leadership styles and help these first generation leaders create smooth transitions once the time has come for them to step aside.