I don’t want to call this a rant, though in some ways that is how it is swelling up within me. In recent months and years I have found it disheartening to see so many young pastors advertising their know-how as a commodity to sell to other pastors in order to be like them in their wisdom, experience, and success.
I don’t think I’ve arrived at the pinnacle of potential or obtained all the knowledge required to fulfill my pastoral calling. As a nondenominational small church pastor I am always on the lookout for equipping opportunities and I do crave for fellowship with ministers like me who want to end this race still fighting (2 Timothy 4:7).
It is disheartening not seeing speakers, teachers, and leaders whose agedness communicates experience in these electronic, mail, and social media promotions trying to convince pastors like me to buy their must-have resource or conference ticket. I am just a few years shy of turning 60 years old and I would like to think that I have another decade of pastoral productivity ahead of me, and that is something I want to invest in.
I know that what these youthful ministers have in energy is not the equivalent of pastoral wisdom, experience, and success. The problem is, they don’t even know that and won’t until they are a few years shy of turning 60 years old and wondering why so many young pastors advertise their know-how as a commodity to sell to other pastors in order to be like them in their wisdom, experience, and success.
I get the mentor principle illustrated by the relationship of Paul and Timothy, and at one time I had a ministerial supervisor who was fond of repeating, Every Paul should have a Timothy and every Timothy should have a Paul. I agree with that. I understand that.
I also get that Paul told Timothy not to let others despise his youth, but to be a good example to the flock (1 Timothy 4:12). I agree with that. I understand that. However, I don’t think Paul had consulting services, podcast instruction, leading church networks, or lecturing at conferences in mind when he said that.
To be fair, I try to remind myself that we do live in a commerce driven society so I do understand an entrepreneurial drive in the younger generation, can be a good thing. I once had my turn and I don’t want to ignore that I did similar things but I honestly don’t think I ever thought of myself as a Paul when I was actually a Timothy. It is more likely that I thought of myself as a John when I was actually a Peter.
This phenomenon of Timothy’s thinking of themselves as Paul’s may be more of a congregational or para-church ministries issue. Denominations tend to be more subjective to measuring proven accomplishments and resumes as evidence to promote one into the role of a Paul.
I once asked my internist about a health issue that I read in a book, and it triggered one of his pet peaves so I got an abbreviated lecture on how the physician who wrote about that doesn’t have a practice seeing real patients with real problems so he does not have a real perspective.
A professor in seminary once said it this way, If you can’t preach, teach. Maybe the reason I only see the young guys advertising and being promoted in church material is because us old guys are too focused on being shepherds to the sheep, rather than leaders to the organization.
Perhaps in all these things, whether out of vain ambition or genuine interest to help, the Spirit of God will ultimately get the glory and help who He needs to and humble who He needs to (apparently like me).
There was a time in mid-1990’s when I served as a pastor of a congregation that was half white people and half black people. I remember a time sitting around relaxing after a potluck talking about Christmas shopping, when one of the black members said, “I just wish there were more choices for my children, like dolls or action figures that were black, choices that just looked like them.”
Well, I now completely understand what that black mother of small children meant, because I too just wish I had some choices from those who would actually make me feel like they really have wisdom, experience, and success to sell.