“Send the Elevator Down.”
By David Ramos
I had lunch today with my dear brother the Rev. Luis Alvarez, he will one day be Rev. Dr. Luis Alvarez, and then again be the Rev. Dr. Bishop Luis Alvarez. He will probably kill me for that but that’s the way I see it. In our conversation he made reference of the Surgeon General’s speech, who just happens to be Latino, the Surgeon General said that while we make it to positions of influence we cannot forget where we come from, we must, “send the elevator down.” What an interesting concept, that we must take the time to provide the means by which we can raise our sisters and brothers up. How often we find persons who arrive at positions of influence only to press the close button, or lock the car on a certain floor allowing only certain persons access to the elevator. As Latino leaders shouldn’t we be thinking of ways that we can help the generation behind us? Shouldn’t we be deliberate and systematic about how we are mentoring and investing in the lives of emerging leaders? Where are the much needed intergenerational conversations? Why are we so poor at communicating with one another? Why have we allowed pride, ego, and personal agendas to get in the way? Why do we allow a scarcity model to persist within our leadership circles? Why cannot we celebrate the victories of our sisters and brothers without somehow feeling that it depletes the influence of another sister or brother? We need to send the elevator down! How can we send the elevator down? 1) By opening doors for emerging Latino leaders. There are networks, resources, and circles of influence that emergent leaders ought to be included in; 2) By respecting emergent leaders as horizontal colleagues not merely vertical ones with younger leaders serving only in subservient roles; 3) By sponsoring emergent leaders, this means providing financially for them or connecting them to others who can. Many emergent leaders are struggling financially in graduate or post-graduate studies any financial assistance is greatly appreciated. There can be creative ways that money can be raised for emergent leaders; Rev. Luis Alvarez was concerned about sending the elevator down and for years has conducted a scholarship dinner and fundraiser whose proceeds go to the college students of his local church. We need not look at the elevator as a “free ride,” students can pitch in to provide leadership or service to their congregations, this work can help serve the local church in significant ways. Investment in emergent leadership is one of the greatest legacies a leader can leave behind. Let’s dream up of ways on how to send the elevator down. Does anyone have any ideas you would like to share?