Generational Leadership

Generational Leadership – leading so that the next generation can impact generations

I recently gave this talk at the annual GRG Weekend. Afterwards we did a panel style interview with some of the next generation guys I’m investing in. It was one of the most talked about parts of the entire weekend. I’ll put the link to the panel discussion at the bottom so you can check it out after reading this post.

When I turned 50, two years ago, I almost immediately began to have this thought constantly running through my head, “I don’t want to be doing the same thing I’m doing now when I’m 60.”

That thought became much more refined over time to something like, “I’m at the age where investing in the next generation is not optional. If I’m going to finish well I can’t leave this to chance.”

That thought led to more thoughts, like, “If I don’t do something now, I will be doing this at 60. If I don’t do this well, I’ll have no one to blame but me.”

Granted, I’ve been investing in the next generation for years but what I was realizing is that the level of intentionality needed to ramp up and the focus needed to crystalize.

Here is what I believe – Nothing great happens without great leadership and no leadership lasts without thinking generationally

Some people were literally sitting in that audience that night because a great leader named Nelson Mandela was willing to stand up to the tyranny of apartheid and then said, “No” to revenge and “Yes” to reconciliation.

Leadership is not about a position but a passion for something that matters

Mary Kay Ash is a leader who looks like her passion was big hair and makeup. In truth, her passion was to create a path out of poverty for single women, especially single moms, because she was one.

God has given you something worth stewarding. If its worth stewarding it is probably worth investing into the next generation.

God is generational. 14 times God is referred to as The God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob; 8 in the Old Testament and 6 in the New Testament. The first chapter of the New Testament is the genealogy of Jesus. God wanted to make sure we understood he is a generational God. But too often in the West, especially, we don’t lead generationally. As a result we don’t leave a legacy. Our leadership dies with us. All of us have probably worked under leaders who were holding on tight to their power, controlling every decision and making sure they got all the credit. This kind of leadership creates a glass ceiling that keeps younger leaders from stepping up. I want to be a leader who makes a way rather than being in the way. I want the next generation to be able to stand on my shoulders and be far more successful than I’ve ever been. So why don’t we lead this way?


We don’t lead generationally because… 

  • We are too isolated 

Not that we don’t have people around us, we just don’t have people who really know us. 

I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying – Leadership is lonely. Leadership isn’t lonely, leaders are lonely. Its true that there are lonely moments where its just you and God. As a leader there are dark nights of the soul where you are shedding tears and your only comfort is Christ himself. But this should be the exception rather than the rule. Leadership is only as lonely as you make it.

I’ve had so much push back on this over the years. Leaders constantly say things like – I’ve been hurt or I tried to be relationally and I got burned. Yes, that is true. It’s true for me too. It was true for Jesus. Remember that his own followers were the ones who betrayed him. But Jesus never stopped opening his life to his friends.

If you are going to work with millennials you better embrace that for them, collaboration is leadership-crack. If millennials aren’t involved in the decision making they aren’t interested in the decision. Said another way – Decisions made in isolation don’t get celebration.

  • They offend us

I love the Apostle Paul’s approach to generational leadership. He really didn’t care who got the credit. There is no indication that Timothy contributed any substance to Paul’s letters. Yet look how he opens the book of Philippians; 1:1 Paul and Timothy to all the saints …at Philippi.

My friend and mentor Dough Fike says, “Insecure leaders are the greatest hinderance to the advancement of the Kingdom of God.”

I believe he’s right. Our insecurities will keep us from releasing people who aren’t as far along as we are or who might surpass us. I was in Romania recently and during some down time Jesus began to speak to me about Resourcing. I felt like he was saying that is going to be my role in the next season. I was excited until a few weeks later when he began to unpack that – I was taken to John the Baptist who resourced Jesus. John was the man before Jesus. People came from miles around to hear John speak and to follow him. Yet when Jesus came on the scene people left John and went to Jesus. John was hurt and yet he didn’t allow his hurt to deter his mission. He said, “I must decrease that he might increase.”

That’s the kind of generational leader I want to be. A leader who makes a way rather than getting in the way.


  • This is the link for the panel discussion with some of the next generation guys I’m investing in.


About keithspurgin

Just a guy with a great wife, fantastic kids, good friends and a really big God!
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