Earlier this week I pointed out that there are fewer leaders who meet the typical “leadership profile” for positions such as senior pastor. From a practical and purely demographic vantage point, there are fewer people in Generation X than the preceding Boomer generation, so there are currently less available leaders in the often sought-after 35-50 age range than there were 15 years ago.
Now is a great time for younger leaders to be cultivated and tapped for significant leadership positions. And some churches and organizations are handing the leadership reigns to younger leaders. As this happens, younger leaders are wise to heed the challenge the apostle Paul gave to the man he discipled—Timothy.
Let no one despise your youth; instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity (1 Timothy 4:12).
Notice what qualities the apostle Paul did NOT challenge Timothy to display as he set an example. Paul did not say, “Set an example in energy, creativity, and innovation.” Paul did not challenge Timothy to set the example with “new ideas, relevant approaches, and savvy leadership.” The qualities we often affirm young leaders for are not what Paul challenges Timothy to exhibit. The characteristics that young leaders are often told they bring to the table are not the characteristics the church most needs. There is nothing wrong with creativity, innovation, or new ideas. But they must be grounded and fueled by love, faith, and purity.
So, young leaders, set an example:
Instead of choosing to be crass and edgy, let your speech “be gracious, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6). Set an example in what you say and how you say it.
Set an example in how you live, not just what you say. Watch not only your doctrine but also your life. Persevere in both and you will save yourself and your hearers (1 Timothy 4:16).
Because without love you are nothing more than a clanging symbol, love people well (1 Corinthians 13:1). View your ministry as a tool to build people, not people as a tool to build your ministry.
Hold to the faith “delivered to the saints once for all” (Jude 3). Draw your worth, your motivation, and the foundation of your ministry from Jesus and His work for us.
Wandering eyes and wandering hearts have slain many leaders before you. Ask the Lord to guard your heart, and draw near to Him daily.
God has always used younger leaders. And He is looking for young leaders who will set the example in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.