“Send the Elevator Down.”

“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?


  1. hermano,
    back in the day when folks would hold the elevator in the PJs, they’d be told to let go of the ________elevator. those expletives would be in spanish or english, or both at the same time.
    if it wasn’t for people sending the elevator down my way, who knows, verdad?
    i think some of the honest dialogue you mentioned is a start. particulary in the latino context-with those generational issues. i shared with a latino leader once-who also happens to be a baby boomer, that his generation tends to want the younger generation to pay their due so-to-speak, before they can step-up, or go up the elevator. sometimes they make you take the stairs =-). he wasn’t like this, but many of his peers were…
    i think we have a young generation of leadership that is not looking to have to go through some bootcamp (leave that up to God to allow), but are ready to step up to the plate and deliver. we need to end the ageism. “don’t let anyone look down upon you because you are young, but…”

  2. Jose,
    You are so right, there is a sense by some that we haven’t suffered what they suffered. My father was a proud Boricua who worked two jobs and sacrificed much so that we wouldn’t have to. His pride was to watch us live a life that he didn’t or couldn’t have. I remember how proud he was when I graduated from college–the first in the family. I think rather than our spiritual parents thinking that we should “suffer some more” (should some think that) perhaps they should take pride in the space they have created for us, to know that their sacrifices have allowed us to occupy different places of leadership, different manifestations of ministry. I’m sure that some feel this way but some lamentably don’t.

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