It seems like every time I get around leaders my age the conversation eventually meanders to the topic of multi-generational ministry and succession planning. Some already have a succession plan. Some are working on a succession plan. Others have no interest in succession plans because dying is not in their plan.
I’ve been thinking about my Manila succession plan for about thirty years. That does not prove that I am good or even marginally adequate at advanced strategic planning. I am not. Because I was only planning to stay in Manila for a few months, I figured I better find some next-generation leaders to equip and empower. In those days the next generation was two to five years younger than me. Now they are twenty to thirty years younger.
King Solomon got off to a great start because he understood multi-generational leadership and the importance of continuity. Consider his prayer in 2 Chronicles 1:9.
“O LORD God, let your word to David my father be now fulfilled, for you have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth.”
Unlike so many young insecure leaders today, Solomon was not looking for a “new word” from God. He believed that the old word that God gave his father was still valid for his generation.
Solomon prayed, not for his own mission/vision/word to replace the mission/vision/word of his father. Rather he saw himself as a continuation of God’s purpose. He did not need his own unique mission/vision/word. He embraced a multi-generational mission/vision/word.
Solomon’s multi-generational mission did not start with his father’s generation. In his prayer, Solomon recognizes that it started long before David. Being king over “people as numerous as the dust of the earth” harkens back to God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Unlike his father Solomon, Rehoboam “abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him” (2 Chronicles 10:8). Rejecting the wisdom of old people who represent previous generations is always a bad idea for a young leader.
Solomon recognized the importance of multi-generational continuity. He remembered the wisdom of his father David. He even acknowledged he was in some way building on the foundation of God’s promises to Abraham. Because he “listened to the old men” Solomon had a strong foundation to build on and a clear mission to accomplish.
Lesson for young leaders: Patiently listen to the “old men” who repeat the same stories over and over and over.
Lesson for old leaders: Never grow tired of reminding young leaders of God’s promises and purpose so they can build on ancient foundations rather than starting over and building on nothing.
Summary: “Listening to the old men” means we don’t have to start over from scratch and make it up as we go.