Pastoral ministry in the local church is not the easiest endeavor in God's world, but as Paul anticipated for his young disciple, and as Jon Acuff has humorously observed, it is only compounded when you're not the oldest guy in the room:
Sure Whitney Houston, I believe that children are the future, but I’d be lying if I said that’s the first thing I think when a minister younger than me takes the stage. Call it jealousy that the next generation is about to lap me or that the generation behind me has a cooler name, “millennial tweener x-tremes,” but when youth is served at church, sometimes Christians like to tune out and think:This seems to be God's recipe for hammering humility in the ranks of youthful pastors. (FYI, I brown-bagged lunch at seminary, but we did get a Foreman Grill at our wedding!). Of course we also have Psalm 119:99-100 at the ready to remind ourselves and everyone else that the root of wisdom is not experience.
“Oh no, where’s the regular pastor? Is it ‘regular’ or ‘senior’ or ‘teaching pastor of imaginevisioneering’? I can never get those right, but who is this kid up on stage? Is he doing the announcements? Is there a youth group fundraiser I need to know about? Fine, I’ll get my car washed in a Chick-fil-A parking lot. That’s like a win-win right there, holding a Christian event in the parking lot of a Christian restaurant. That’s God squared.
But why isn’t this kid getting off the stage? Is he, no, is he about preach? Is it youth Sunday already? What, he’s the youth minister? That’s great, but this isn’t youth group. He’s way too young to school me in the game of life. Oh, but this is happening. It’s tool ate for me to walk out and leave. It’s time for the junior hour of power.
Please just don’t use that phrase that all young ministers bust out. Please don’t say, oh no, you just did. You just said, “When I was growing up.” You said it like it was over, like you’ve crossed from young man into wizened old gentleman. But you’re only twenty-four. The toughest decision you’ve faced in life so far was whether to get the full meal plan or the five-day-a-week meal plan at seminary. You went with the five? That’s good to know, let me scribble that down here in the sermon notes section of my bulletin.
But I’ll forgive you that one. I’ll let that one slide as long as you don’t give me any marital advice. You’ve been married for about fifteen minutes. You’re still tan from your honeymoon. I can still kind of smell suntan lotion on you. If at any point in this sermon you try to give me marriage advice, I am going to think about college baseball. I just want to be up front about that. The toughest marriage decision you’ve faced so far is whether to exchange one of the china sets you got as a wedding gift for a George Foreman grill that is shaped like a massive charcoal grill. Don’t, I’ve done that, I fought that battle, and it was not worth it. You need more plates than you think and less George Foreman grills than you think. Trust me on that.
See, I should be doing this sermon, I just gave you some free marital advice. You’re welcome.
- Stuff Christians Like, pp. 84-85.
HT: Kevin DeYoung