Don’t Show Them What You’re Made Of
Being a young(er) pastor at age 31, I’ve often heard from people who encourage me to “let no one despise your youth.” These supporters are correct, and I’m thankful for their vocal praise. As a pastor and leader, however, I often leave it there. I have thought to myself, “They’re right. I’m not going to let anyone hold me back. I’ll show them what I’m made of!”
It’s not the right reaction. It’s not leadership to prove someone wrong in order to prop up a personal agenda.
As Paul writes Timothy he follows “let no one despise your youth” with leadership action items. “Instead,” he articulates, “you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
In other words, when people use your young age to bring you down, don’t show them what you’re made of. Don’t set out to prove them wrong with success. It’s a sophomoric response that proves them correct. The mature leader (regardless of age) will go out in front and show the way, leading by example. What does the example look like? Paul gives us guidelines:
In speech. The church places a higher standard on its leaders for what they say. While some people might get away with stray, snide remarks, you will not. Nor should you. Your congregation hangs on to your words more than any other person in the church. Be careful how you are perceived. Snippy comments from leaders are magnified because of the position. When a senior pastor says something sarcastic or uncouth, it carries more weight. If you’re young, it’s magnified even more.
In conduct. You give up much privacy with a calling to lead a church, and you are always communicating through your actions. What events you attend (or don’t) will get talked about. How much time you spend with certain groups or people will be discussed, and people will notice how you treat your spouse and children. Lead by setting the example in conduct.
In love. You must love your church where it is now. Your congregation will feel the distance if you only love them where you want them to be. Lead your church forward, but don’t fall in love with the future while vilifying the present.
In faith. Do you really believe in your church? Whether people vocalize it or not, they will know if you do or don’t. And if you don’t believe in the people, then why are you there? Every church deserves a pastor who believes they can do great gospel work.
In purity. If your eyes lust through the computer screen, then you deserve the antagonism of a church that despises your youth. It’s difficult to lead a church when you’re grieving the Holy Spirit in your personal life.
Careful speech. Godly conduct. Real love. Genuine faith. And a pure heart. That’s what true leaders are made of.