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Join date : 2008-01-18

Communication Empty
PostSubject: Communication   Communication EmptyWed Jan 30, 2008 4:14 pm

The Generation Gap is What You Make It (by Dan Reiland) excerpt from: The Pastor's Coach

Over this past Thanksgiving break, my daughter Mackenzie was home from college and we sat together for a long time while she built my Face Book page. We had fun doing it together. I was asking questions like: "What really is the difference between Face Book and email, I mean, essentially what is the difference? She said: "Dad, don't make it so complicated. It's just how people talk with each other."

That's it. Don't make it so complicated! We make the differences in generations more complicated than they really are. And it really is all about communication.

Unfortunately, some people "my age" say that young adults aren't really communicating or interacting when it's all driven through the internet. I disagree. They are communicating, all the time, rapidly, and they stay in touch extremely well! It's no different than when the telephone was invented. People no longer always saw each other face to face then either. Communication is at the core of the Generation Gap. The better communication -- the smaller the gap.

I love hiring and working with young adults. I love working with seasoned veterans. I don't like working with people who want to make an issue of "The Gap" and choose to make communication difficult - which in turn widens the gap.

When I experience the tension of the gap it's almost always an issue of power, such as who makes the rules and who must follow the rules. One group has or is perceived to have more power, and the other group wnats that power. Too much focus is on who makes the rules and who follows the rules. More important is what the rules are and why the rules are made.

Let's say the older generation has the power or authority. I don't think that is always true, but let's say it is for the sake of this discussion. Let me be blunt, someone or some group must have authority (responsibility). If authority were up for grabs every morning, chaos would reign! The issue is how the authority is used and whether or not it's shared. If those who have it won't give it away that's a problem! If those who want it alienate and separate themselves from those who have (or are perceived to have) it, that's a problem!

I've worked with both groups. I've worked with older people who are control freaks. And I've worked with younger people who are insecure and make a big deal about nothing. (I've seen the opposite too.) The good news is that I think the gap is smaller that is publicized. Think about it. Who would buy a book that says "We're really all in this together and the gap is smaller that we thought"? Who would buy a book that says, in essence, "We need each other and the differences between the generations is so small is doesn't matter." When we come up with clever names that make us different, that sells.I'm a boomer and proud of it... not really. I'm a pastor and proud of it. I stand and serve next to guys much younger and love it. I think they like standing next to me too. We're on the same team and serve the same God. I wish that would sell, but calling others Millennial sounds cooler.

I've worked with young people who say the older people just don't get it. (Sometimes they don't) The critical issue is whether or not the older person wants to get it and if the younger one is willing to help. If both shut communication down because one wants power and perceives the other has it, the gap is widened. James 4:1-2 says it well: "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but you don't get it." I've worked with older people who say the young ones don't get it. (Sometimes they don't) Sounds like a pattern here. Who is doing the talking? Those who are lessening the gap or widening it? That takes us back to communication and who wants what.

Words are changed and new meanings are applied in hopes of changing the playing field. I think we should follow my daughter's advice and stop trying to make it complicated. Let's just talk. If we want the same thing (same vision) and we talk, the gap is small. If we want something different and we don't talk, the gap is large. There are differences between generations. But it's all in what we choose to emphasize. What you emphasize determines the size of the gap. We need to understand the differences when it comes to connecting with current culture. But when it comes creating your personal family culture as well as cultivating community, building staff teams and achieving the mission, the gap must be minimized.

I love working at 12 Stone Church. (Formely Crossroads) We leverage the differences for the good of the team which makes the gap imperceptibly small. We major in what we have in common and keep our eyes on the mission. We learn from each other and don't worry about who gets the credit. We end up with a powerful mix of wisdom, energy and creativity. The results are amazing. Is is perfect? No. But that wouldn't be any fun anyway!

I want to say thanks to Jason Berry and Charlie Wetzel for tossing their thoughts into the ring for this article. They are both great leaders. Jason and Charlie represent two different generations, but I won't tell you which one is which, because on our team, it doesn't matter. I will tell you that Jasom and A,ber just had their first child, and Charlie just had a hip replaced.... but he also recently earned a black belt in Karate... you still really don't know which is which. Charlie and Stephanie have a pre-schooler!

I've been thinking about the kinds of things that help keep the gap small and leverage the strength of multiple generations.

a) Trust and Respect (Jason Berry)

These two never seem to go out of style. The greater the trust and respect for each other, the smaller the gap. Appreciating and leveraging what different generations bring to the table is a powerful dynamic. It has been said this way. (Please forgive the generalizations, but I found this person's thoughts to be stirring) At times the younger generation feels like they are right because they are highly passionate about their cause. They are even ready to die for their cause, so the cause must be right. The older generation feels they are right because they have actually "done it" and therefore have figured out through experience the "right" answer to the issue at hand. The younger generation sees the older as a people wh don't seem eager to die for the cause. The older sees the younger as idealistic and lacking wisdom. But the reality is that we need each other. Wisdom without passion is a dry river bed. passion without wisdom is a swamp. But when wisdom and passion are combined you get a river that's full of life and moving forward.

b) Shared Power

I believe shared power and authority is at the heart of the matter. I personally invest tremendous energy into giving authority away. I'm leery about using the word "empower" because it has been tossed around so loosely. True empowerment is not a top down prospect. Empowerment is not only the current leadership transferring authority and responsibility to others who are younger; the younger generation can also empower up by engaging the established leaders in their dreams, visions, energy and passion rather than creating separation and desiring to do their own thing. The synergy created by a dynamic process is amazingly powerful.

c) The Truth About Change (Charlie Wetzel)

Change is difficult. One of the reason is that the leaders who decide upon the changes and the leaders who must implement the chnages are not always one and the same. Giving room for another generalization, let's extract wisdom from the idea. The older generation tends to overvalue experience (the previous success factor) and undervalue innovation. The younger generation tends to overvalue innovation (the cool/cutting edge factor) and undervalue experience. The donwside of the older generation is resisting change and the downside of the younger generation is chnaging for the sake of change. In balance, younger people bring innovation, which older people can temper and guide with wisdom. If both hav a "yes and" mindset, they get the best of both worlds.

d) A Learning Community

Few environments are more invigorating that a true learning environment. I don not believe these can be achieved with only one generation in the room. Different generations have too much to offer and bring to the table in what becomes a powerful collaborative effort. Strong communication and intentional collaboration will greatly reduce the gap between generations. I love learning ith young leaders because I love receiving what they contribute and learning how they think. Young leaders tell me they love learning with me because i'm still thinking. I don't know it all: I'm still learning. Drop the mix in a room and you just might capture some leadership magic.

I've listed four ideas to shorten the gap. You can probably think up a few more. But more importantly, what are you actually foing to make the gap smaller?

*Communication is both ways!
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