Advice for Young Pastors and Leaders

It’s been a little more than a month since I’ve been on staff at Hessel Church in Sebastopol, California as the Student Ministries Pastor. Prior to this position, I’ve also been involved in serving and leading ministries for nearly six years. As young leaders, we typically can be over-zealous and eager, sometimes to our shame and downfall. After reflecting on how God’s developed me over the years, here are six recommendations for young pastors and leaders: 

  1. Be fed before you feed. I know we’re young. I know we’re enthusiastic. I know we’re like hyper little puppies that  possess a seemingly endless amount of energy. But even puppies have to rest and recharge their batteries. Typically fresh out of bible college or seminary, we, too, are eager and ready to march into the storm head-on and “change the world.” Because we know everything, right? Because God’s revealed something to us that He’s kept secret until now, right? Wrong. We’re human. We need food. Don’t neglect caring for your own soul before you care for other souls. If you’re tank is on empty, how do you expect your engine to keep running? Your soul runs on fuel; don’t forget to fill up on the Word.
  2. No place like home. As a leader of God’s people, we are called to keep our house in order. My relationship with my bride has been pivotal to my ministry for multiple reasons. The more my wife and I put into our relationship, the more God teaches and blesses us and our ministry. Before you help lead other people to serve Jesus and their families, we need to be serving our own families first. 
  3. Two ears, one mouth. God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason; be sure to listen before you speak. God wants to develop you. One of the main ways He does that is through the people He’s place around you. Listen to their suggestions and critiques. Don’t take it offensively; constructive criticism is meant to construct you into the leader that God wants you to be. 
  4. Seek counsel. You need a mentor (or two). Behind every great leader is at least one great mentor. Frodo had Gandalf, Luke had Yoda, and Harry had Dumbledore; you need one, too. Someone older, wiser, and far godlier than you (perhaps with a beard and staff). Someone who can pour their wisdom and experience into you. Someone who can graciously correct and encourage you. Someone who can pray for and and support you. 
  5. Community matters. Don’t get so caught up leading God’s people that you forget living amongst God’s people in faith and fellowship.
  6. Be realistic. Pride is one of the worst enemies a leader can have. Your strongest defense is humility. Remember: God put you in your position and God can take you out of your position. It is God’s plan, God’s creation, God’s redemption, and God’s kingdom all for God’s glory; He simply allows you to play a very small part in His grand plan of redemption. So as soon as you begin tooting your own horn, remind yourself that God is the One Who is worthy of the praise.

Eight Reasons to Commit to One Church

Working with young Christians (preteens to late-20’s) has its fair share of difficulties. For the college/young adult age-group in particular, there is one gem that stands out among the rest:

a lack of commitment.

They go from one college group to another, failing to commit to an actual church. No matter how picture-perfect the church is, they always find something wrong with it…and bail. They’re kind of like those guys who date every girl in town: they date girls while they’re cool and hot and then ditch ’em as soon as someone else catches their eyes rather than choosing to commit to one lady for the rest of their life.

No cost. No commitment. No crime, right? Wrong.

God calls the church His bride. Just like a husband is to completely commit Himself to His bride, so are we, Christians, to commit ourselves to God’s bride, the church (yes, there are some circumstances that call for a change in churches).

There are many causes for this young generation’s achilles heal and I will address them in the near future. For now, I’d like to speak directly to those of you who are young Christians and yet fail to commit to a local church. You say things like,

I like Jesus, but I don’t like the church.

The church is full of hypocrites.

I don’t need the church.

You ask questions like,

Why do I need to go to church? My relationship with God is between Him and I.

Why do I need to commit to one church? Don’t all churches make up one universal church?

Although there are countless reasons why you as a young-adult Christian need to commit to one local church, I’d like to give you eight:

  1. God eternally exists in Christian community (the Trinity); don’t you think you should, too?
  2. Jesus lived his adult life with a community of believers.
  3. Jesus went to the temple (or church) as a child. Though we only have a few records of His childhood, one of the scenes written by Luke shows Jesus attending and participating in the life of the temple (Luke 2:41-52).
  4. The New Testament has at least fifty-nine commands that require you live in a community of other believers; we refer to them as the “one-anothers.”
  5. Let’s be honest: you need the accountability and support. Deal with bitterness? Anxiety? Depression? Gossip? Difficult time not watching porn? Going too far with your girlfriend or boyfriend? Wrestling with addiction? The list goes on…God gives Christians the church so that they can grow and walk together (Hebrews 3:12 & 13).
  6. God uses your relationships with other Christians to display His glory to the unbelieving world (John 13:35).
  7. God gave the church elders to keep watch of and care for their souls like a shepherd does for their sheep (Acts 20:28). The author of Hebrews calls for believers to submit to these very elders, for they are the ones who will give an account to God (Hebrews 13:17).
  8. It’s God’s plan. In Paul’s letter to a younger pastor named Titus, he tells him that Jesus laid down His life to redeem and purify a group of people, namely the church (Titus 2:14).

Though God’s church is filled with sinful people, God is doing something in and through these people that no one else in human history has ever nor will ever be able to do: He is perfecting imperfect people from every tribe, tongue, and language, uniting them to celebrate and enjoy His glory and splendor for all of eternity.

Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that?