I guess I’m a Millennial, though I barely make the cutoff that many have arbitrarily placed on this demographic. I was born in the summer of 1980. Not really a Gen-Xer, barely a millennial, I awkwardly find myself in limbo between both worlds. I guess the best proof that I’m a Millennial is that you are currently reading my blog and this paragraph I’ve written has been all about me.
God has placed me in a unique position to hear from and understand young ministry leaders. Pastors, evangelists, youth leaders, parachurch leaders and church planters between their 20’s and early 30’s are an amazing bunch. However, they can often be misunderstood. Though my blog is most often written for our church members, I’d like to take this opportunity to explain a few things I’ve learned about young ministry leaders to other minsters who might read this blog.
Their Motives are Pure
If you’d like to discourage a young pastor – question his motives. It’s funny how we have the ability to transport ourselves into the mind and heart of another and judge their motives. I don’t know about you but I have enough trouble keeping my own motives in check to worry about policing those around me. Understand, their methods may be different, but their motives may be pure. The ministers I know just love Jesus and want to accomplish for His kingdom as much as they possibly can. We know that life is short and that one day we will stand before God as the stewards of Matthew chapter 25. We simply want to present to our Lord a life well lived and the fruits of our labor. To question is hurtful and only tends to distance them from those who would do so.
They Desire to Honor their Mentors
This is more often the case than not. Sure there are some bitter, loud and angry people out there. There are some young angry people and there are some old angry people. They are the ones who seem to get all of the attention. However, just because there is a loud and bitter minority who feel obligated to bash those with whom they disagree, doesn’t mean that all young ministry leaders feel the same way. We desire to honor those who have invested into us the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Truthfully, it’s easier for me to do than for others for one simple reason. My mentor, David Teis, treats me in such a way that it is easy to honor him. He doesn’t question my motives though he does privately question my thoughts and decisions. He doesn’t label me as immature simply because I may do something in our church that he chooses not to do. He doesn’t point to the “old paths” of some movement but to the old book of Christianity. The majority of young ministers desire to honor their mentors but their mentors make it nigh impossible because they still don’t see that the child in front of them has grown into a man of God.
They Desire to Follow the Holy Spirit
The guys I know are doing what they’ve always been taught. They search the Scriptures! When they hear a theological dispute, they go to the Scriptures. When they think about implementing a new method, they go to the Scriptures. However, the Scriptures are silent in some areas and vague in others. Though the Bible is very clear in the matters of lying, killing and adultery it is more ambiguous when it speaks to dress, music and entertainment. Therefore, where the Scripture is ambiguous the Spirit is specific. (I wrote about this here:Who Pastors the Pastor
Essentially, young ministers who have been taught to follow the Bible as their sole authority are less likely to be loyal to a denominational preference or personal standard they cannot see backed-up in Scripture. For clarification on specific issues they will seek the Lord in prayer and come to their own convictions, preferences and standards.
They Are Optimistic About the Future
Nothing will distance a young leader from the previous generation faster than persistent pessimism. I think this is difficult for older leaders because they lived through the watershed year of 1968 that literally changed our culture. Most of these changes were not for the better. For every Civil Rights movement we had a sexual revolution, advancement of the drug culture, skyrocketing crime rates and the brake-down of the family. We now live in a Post-Christian America! Fox News has made Billions reminding the previous generation what they lost. Preachers who fought against the cultural revolution of the 1960’s can become so discouraged about what was and never will be that they become almost nihilistic about the future. I don’t think this is purposeful but I do think it’s natural and there is nothing that discourages my generation more than being told that the game is over before we’ve even had a chance to suit up. Therefore, we flock in droves to whoever is optimistic, encouraging and positive about the future. This happens in the political arena (yes we can) as well as the Christian arena (best life now). I’m not saying my generation is right. I’m saying my generation is in need of some Biblical leadership that still believes we can do all things through Christ (Phil. 4:13), that all things are still possible (Mk. 10:27), and even though we face the giant of a Post-Christian America that there is a cause and the battle is the LORD’S (I Sam.17:47)! We, by faith in a powerful God, will remain optimistic about our future!
They Are Flawed
Young leaders are like any other leaders. We are deeply flawed. We are impetuous, ungrateful, self-serving, and extremely egocentric. We can lash out in anger. We become easily discouraged. Our pride keeps us from admitting our weaknesses. Though we consider ourselves tolerant we quickly dismiss anyone who doesn’t think just like us. Some of us have grown bitter over genuine spiritual abuse. Some of us have grown prideful over our commitment to the “old paths.” We say things we shouldn’t say. We whisper things we shouldn’t whisper. We blog about things that we shouldn’t blog about. We do things today that years from now we will laugh about and wonder what we were doing as foolish young ministers.
We are a flawed group. This is why we need one another! This is why we need the previous generation and the wisdom that only comes with long life. This is why we need to renew our commitment to the Word of God and the Spirit’s leading.
What do you think? Did I get it wrong? What would you add to this conversation? I’d love your comments below: