As I consider God’s calling on my life to become a pastor, I realize that I have many weaknesses. But perhaps one of them I cannot help is being young.
I understand that being young is not generally a problem for God. Timothy’s famous instructions for him, often cited in youth groups around the world, were to not let anyone look down on him because he was young. Because what he lacked for in life maturity, he made up for in spiritual maturity. What he lacked for in knowledge, he made up for in character. And for that reason, he was exhorted that God would use anyone because the life of Christ shines through us and changes the world around us, regardless of our age.
With that understanding, you could say I carry an invincible’s mindset. I can do anything for Jesus because Jesus can do anything through me. This is true, and I still think it’s true after finishing the rest of my thoughts of this post. I have grand visions of massively affecting lives, planting churches, sending people to missions, etc…
However, one of the things I realize about my youthfulness and one that I will not be able to make up for is my inability to pastor from a deep well of life experience.
Young people like me are known for saying great and grand things without having a life of testing to put them into proper context. Don’t ever underestimate a young person’s wisdom or knowledge about Jesus–I have seen 15 year olds wiser than some 50 year olds. But knowledge and wisdom are barely the full array of things necessary for shepherding God’s people.
Who would you trust more if someone’s spouse died? A fiery Spirit-filled young person or a calm resolved older and experienced pastor? Or how about when someone’s child is suffering from cancer? Or someone’s father just had his second stroke?
While you won’t get the crazy anointed prophetic encounter (or maybe you will), the answer is easy–you would go to the calm resolved older and experienced pastor.
That’s because in pastoring, (here’s a lesson for us young folk) people sometimes don’t need answers, people need God’s pastoring presence. In great pain, people don’t need insightful responses, people need comfort. In life’s most difficult situations, people don’t need strong exhortations, people need someone to relate to and to understand them.
And as younger people, who have seen little in life, we just can’t offer that to others. We have little context to put our knowledge and insights into. We would be too tempted to be like Job’s friends who went into can’t-you-understand-it? mode. Jesus pastors his children out of a perspective who has seen the world’s suffering for ages. We pastor from a infinitesimal fraction of that.
While I still believe that God can use anybody at any age (think about young King David!), it’s wise to recognize our inherent weaknesses. This is so that if people do get pastored through us young folk, all glory and honor goes to Jesus Christ the good shepherd!