I’m writing this just as much for myself as for other young people who want so eagerly to be involved in church ministry.
I’ve heard countless youth event sermons, seminars, graduation speeches, etc. on the advice to Timothy in 1st Timothy 4:12-16: “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit,in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”
This is such wise counsel from an older pastor to a younger one. Paul writes to Timothy, encouraging him to keep going the distance. Paul has learned throughout his ministry some valuable life skills. He’s lived the life and walked the walk. He then wants Timothy to do the same. Timothy becomes Paul’s protege.
It just might be me, but I am itching to get my hands dirty. I’m really just wanting to be done with seminary so that I can get involved in a local church and then continue in the direction in which I feel God is calling me, hopefully towards church planting. I know that the degree that I’m getting is going to be so instrumental towards my vocational direction, and I also know that I am supposed to be in seminary.
I know this is where I’m supposed to be. But I’m just ready for the next step.
I have all these ambitions, dreams, and aspirations that I feel have been planted in me by God, and I’m eager for the next thing. This is not altogether bad, by any means, but it’s causing me to become restless. It’s causing me to not enjoy the season where I am. I love Princeton Seminary. It’s an amazing place to be, but I’m just ready for the what is to come.
But I’m not going to be young for long.
I need to use this time to go learn from Paul’s. To learn from their experiences. To draw from their deep wells of wisdom.
There is a video on YouTube that shows the similarities between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant seen here: Michael and Kobe. There’s another one that talks about the ways that Michael mentored Kobe when he was younger. Jordan saw a similar spark in him to be great, and he wanted to help Kobe get to that place.
In a way, Michael functioned as Kobe’s Paul. Jordan gave him pointers. Jordan helped Kobe to become one of the greatest ball players of all time. Just as Paul says in 1st Corinthians 11:1, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” Paul speaks to this church to keep going the distance. To run the race. To not give up.
I really am ready to get in a church. I really get the sense that’s where God is calling me. But before I get there, there are some things that I can do as I prepare. Obviously, I have to finish seminary (“Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine”)…but I can be an example to other people. Just as Paul is guiding the next generation of believers, Timothy is called to do the same. That can mean helping out with youth ministry, children’s church, a small group, or any of that. Just as Paul mentored Timothy, Timothy is to mentor other young believers.
It is great to have ambition. It is great to want to lead. But most churches operate in this mentorship program. I’m super fortunate in having multiple Paul’s in my life. With my dad and grandfather as pastors, I am always looking for their advice. I’ve had my dad read most of the sermons that I’ve preached because he’s been a pastor for a long time. I know that I am not automatically going to be ready to lead because I’ve finished seminary. I’ll have the “theological training,” but I recognize that three years of seminary doesn’t fully prepare people for leading a church. I’ll have to put in my time. Be faithful in the small things. Most importantly, I need to continue in my relationship with Christ. Every thing that I do should worship to him. He is my Lord, and I serve him and not my own ambitions.
The time will come where I will be in Paul’s position. But for now, I’m going to enjoy being in my “youth.”