If you visit a Messianic Jewish conference in America, chances are you will be hearing a lot of talk about the so-called "next generation," the young generation that will take things forward in the movement. [If I had a shekel for every time I heard the phrase “next generation”...]
The Messianic community in Israel is no exception, so brace yourself before visiting. Seriously though, transition to the next generation and the succession of leadership is an important matter for the whole Messianic Jewish movement, both here in Israel and around the world. The demographics are not working for us. Our movement is aging, and young leaders are scarce.
Scripture is full of examples showing us the principle of leadership transition. Our Master Yeshua chose to invest in a team of future leaders from day one of his ministry work. Discipleship is about training future leaders. The Master’s disciples learned to understand his ways, apply his vision, and practice his power. Consider other biblical examples such as Joshua who succeeded Moses and Elisha, who succeeded Elijah. Paul invested in his own disciples, such as Timothy and Titus.
As I spend time conversing with members of the Messianic Jewish community, it surprises me to hear concerns voiced about leadership and succession, over and over. I wonder to myself, “Is proper leadership really beyond reach?” I know that most of the dissatisfaction I hear is really just petty complaints. The people protested Moses and every other great leader in biblical history. Assuming that leadership in the Messianic movement is not perfect, I hope to be a good listener in order to understand and serve. Leadership challenges are usually repairable so long as leaders have righteous hearts and open ears.
But when it comes to making a transition to the next generation, part of the problem is that most leaders simply do not know how to release control. That’s a completely human failing. It’s hard to delegate, and it’s hard to know when it’s time to pass the mantle. If a leader is moving forward, then he or she is naturally making room for others and encouraging other leaders to step up and succeed. If leaders are not moving forward or moving out of the way, then there is no room for others to develop.
The Messianic community in Israel has been led by pioneers, the likes of which are hardliners and visionaries, brave enough and intense enough to break the ground. Typically, pioneers are not shepherds and gardeners. But the time has come for a new type of leader that has the ability to let things grow slowly and effectively, like Solomon following David. I am confident that new younger leadership will take place, working with veteran leaders together. I believe it is important to honor the pioneers while bringing innovation and tenacity. My prayer is that I will be able to encourage leadership through relationships and with FFOZ’s best resources. I hope that we can be a bridge between the pioneers and the new generation that God is raising up here in the land.