A WORD ABOUT YOUNG PREACHERS
I would like to say a few words as a lay man to my fellow laymen. The issue that would like to address is our proper attitude toward young upcoming ministers in our congregations.
First of all we must realize that these ministers may often be our missionaries, evangelists, and pastors of tomorrow. It might also be helpful for us to attempt to put ourselves into their shoes and try to took at things from their prospective.
In most cases these young men are not only attempting to find the will of God in their lives but they are also searching for their own identity. Just picture yourself trying to make the transition from a layman to a preacher (from a sheep to a shepherd) in your own congregation. To begin with you will have to deal with your own doubts and fears, possibly asking yourself if God has truly called you. Then you will have to contend with the Devil himself. No doubt he has special tactics designed for young ministers.
To top all of this you may be assaulted by some old jealous, critical, saint in your own congregation. The latter would seem to be more of an obstacle than any of the above.
Speaking from my own experience, not as a preacher, but as a layman there is nothing that will mar your self image, and confidence more than some fellow saint taking a cheap shot at you. This is especially true if you are attempting to do something for God.
At times I have seen older laymen mistreat these young men. It seems that some elderly saints often require some kind of an undue respect and reverence from these young preachers.
I’m sure we often judge ourselves by our own motives rather than our actions. By the same token we may sometimes judge our young preachers by their actions without giving them the benefit of the doubt as to their motives.
It’s bad enough that the Devil will war against these young ministers along with their own emotions but to have some of their fellow brothers or sisters give them a bad time is inexcusable.
Yes, I’ve seen some young preachers that may seem to be a little arrogant, and have a bit to much starch. It would be a good idea to remember a couple of things when ever you see one of these young men and feel compelled to analyze, and dissect them.
First of all you are not without fault and are not their pastor. Next they are not only your brothers but they are children of God and He will judge them. As an older saint you can help these young men grow and mature in the Lord. One way is to support them. You can do this in many ways. Start by giving them an occasional, sincere. compliment. You will be surprised how far this will go. Next you can try being patient and praying for them.
Do you think that the Apostle Paul had to deal with peer pressure? Do you think there may have been some old sour puss in the church that gave him a bad time? It may seem far fetched, but could this have been a thorn in his flesh? More than likely this happened to him. Though I have never asked anyone, it is my belief that members from a young preachers own congregation at times can be more of a nightmare than a herd of demons.
Brethren, you can never tell how far God will take a young minister. The Lord sees things that be not as though they were, Paul is a prime example of this.
Let me tell you about a young preacher that I knew. God not only had his band on him, but he lifted him much higher than my near sighted vision could ever see. Several years ago this young man came to work with me as my helper. We worked together for about four years- I had know, him since he was a teenager and at one time he had sat in my Sunday School class.
Let me confess, over the years in my own mind I was often critical of this young fellow. I guess I figured he would never grow up and be serious about the work of God even though he was extremely talented. I never considered him to be bad but I guess he just didn’t seem to live up to my standards as I thought that he should. As time went on this young man began to slowly earn my respect.
We worked together at an oil refinery. The work was hard, dirty, and often dangerous. This young preacher pulled his share of the load. Looking back I don’t believe that I ever had a better helper in my entire life- I am a welder and boilermaker and this youngster often out performed many of the older men on the job.
Over the next few years he began to change. (As I look back now it was probably me that did most of the changing and not him.) He became very involved in out-reach. His understanding of the Bible and his preaching seemed to blossom over night.
Then he was appointed Assistant Pastor of our church. This was a different situation that I had ever had to deal with, to say the least. As I said before I had known him since he was a teen and he had sat in my Sunday School class. At work he was my helper and I called him by his first name, but now when we were at church I began to address him with “brother” preceding his first name. Let me insert, if you cannot bring yourself to address these young ministers as brother then I believe you have a problem.
One day this man gave up his good paying job and went to work full time at our church. Es income was to be far lower than he had made over the preceding years. As I said, this was a unique situation for me, it was to be a time of learning.
A few years later this young minister that I had known for so long was elected as the pastor of my congregation. Once he had sat under me as a student and was my helper, now he was my shepherd. Years have passed and my respect and admiration for Brother Mike Sartin continues to grow. Es wife Sister Sandy Sartin was also a student in my Sunday School class and I have the saint feelings toward her. He is now my pastor, and my shepherd. Let me say I totally trust and support them both in every way that I can.
What did I learn from this situation? You can never determine what hidden potential God sees in a young ministers life or what plans he has for him.
Let me offer my fellow laymen a word of admonition. You as a layman can very often effect a young preacher’s life and ministry. It can either be in a negative or a positive way. You can either be a stepping stone, or you can be a stumbling block in his life; Allow me to repeat myself As I said before if you find it hard to address a young preacher as brother, then you have a problem more serious than you might think. If you cannot respect the man, respect the office that God has commissioned in the church.
I believe very often someone that gives a young minister, or a young saint a bad time when they are trying to grow in the Lord is most likely under condemnation for not being where they should be themselves. We are not their judge.
David knew the danger of putting himself in God’s place and judging Saul. The same applies to us today. Yes Saul was a terrible man but David respected the office that God had placed him in. He allowed God to judge him. Even after the terrible time that Saul gave him, David wept whenever he was killed in battle.
When a young preacher makes a mistake it is trumpeted through out the congregation but when a layman does something that isn’t just exactly fight it seems to be a different matter, It’s as though we pull out a different set of rules, Why is this?
As layman, we can easily be motivated by pride and a desire to be in the spot light as the preacher. What we may fail to realize is that along with the calling of a preacher comes an awesome responsibility and accountability to God Almighty. The Lord will no doubt judge the preacher more harshly than the layman.
The young preacher that sits next to you on the pew may one day pastor you or your children. That young fellow that dates your daughter or preaches his first sermon in your church can one day grow up to be a dynamic evangelist. The same young minister that shoots basketball with your son may one day marry your grandchildren or preach your funeral.
One of my good friends Brother David Klien who is now a missionary to Africa was once a little boy that rode my Sunday School bus. I recall Brother Lenny Thompson as a little boy in the church that I attend. He is now a full time evangelist.
We tend to see things in the natural world, the present. The Lord sees far into the future. He is as an artist that sees the finely polished statue deep within the rough, uncut, slab of marble, he is a visionary.
As laymen we can further the kingdom of heaven by backing our young preachers. We can help them a lot by showing them respect and assisting them in any way that we can. By doing this God will in turn bless us as he did David.
In closing, my fellow laymen ask yourself, “Am I a stepping stone or a stumbling block in the Kingdom of God? Do I see things in the natural-the present, or am I a visionary. Can I see the potential of a young person and their possibilities in the future?”
(Roger Evans is a frequent contributor to the Challenger He attends the First Pentecostal Church in Marrero, pastored by the father-son team of F L. and Mike Sartin.)
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY LOUISIANA CHALLENGER, PAGES 6,7.
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