Raising the Next Generation of Leaders

My son, who lives overseas, was able to come back to North America for a visit from Thanksgiving to Christmas. After a quarantine period, he became part of the household “bubble” with my wife and me. What a difference it made to have him in our home!

On the one hand, not a lot changed. We were living in a time of pandemic. My wife and I continued to work from home and have our regular rhythms of life, yet there was also something new and exciting having Colin Jr. be a part of it.

Some of the most meaningful conversations my son and I had during this visit happened as we engaged in the ordinary experiences of life—over a meal, during a quiet walk, even watching a favorite movie (yes, we even sometimes talked through the movie!)..

Reflecting on those times, I realize that it is through such simple interactions that faith is built and lessons are exchanged. It is a way to bless the next generation, but also a way to be blessed in return as we are challenged to view things from different angles and consider new ideas.

In 2021 the leadership of the ministries of the Christian Reformed Church will undergo significant change. Several senior leaders are retiring, and this has opened doors for a new generation of leaders to come forward. While we celebrate the many contributions the outgoing leaders have made over their many years of service, we are also excited by the perspective and experiences of new leaders who come to the role with unique ideas and a fresh set of eyes.  

Already this year the CRCNA has appointed the following new leaders: Rev. Amanda Benckhuysen, Ph.D., director of Safe Church Ministries; Rev. Tim Rietkerk, director of Chaplaincy and Care; and Carol Koppenaal, director of human relations (U.S.). More appointments are on the way. We pray that this new generation of leaders will extend the reach of the CRCNA even further for the kingdom of God.

Such change is only possible because we have been intentional over the years. We need to seek out people and, by a process of mutual engagement, release the spark placed in them through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the essence of discipleship. Our successors might not have been directly mentored by us, but if we as a community focus on making disciples of the next generation, there will always be leaders to carry on the work. What’s more, God’s kingdom will be enriched—and many others blessed.

As I now approach retirement, my thoughts turn to the many experiences the Lord has allowed me to have. I wonder if I have done enough to share with others these experiences and the faith they engender.

If you also have such wonderings, perhaps there are yet ways for us to partner to share our stories with the next generation and release them to lead us all into a new future. If you feel God’s prompting to do so, may we all be found obedient.

About the Author

Colin P. Watson Sr. is the executive director of the CRCNA. He is a member of Madison Square Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich.

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