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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Community matters. Don’t get so caught up leading God’s people that you forget living amongst God’s people in faith and fellowship.
- 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.