I turned 39 years old this last week. It’s a weird feeling to be “almost 40.” Don’t get me wrong: I’m looking forward to it. I don’t mind growing older. Sure beats the alternative.
It’s weird because I so clearly remember being 18. Like it was yesterday, I remember graduating from high school, getting on my first airplane, going to LA, and starting Bible College because of the call of God on my life to preach the Gospel. Shortly thereafter I began to pastor my first youth group of middle school students. It wasn’t long until Denise and I were 19 and married. Our first baby came a year later. Talk about “kids having kids!”
Over the years, I was given more responsibility at a very young age. Pastoring, speaking, leading, ministering way over my head. My first senior pastorate was at the age of 27, then at 37 years old I was entrusted with a much larger church.
I reminisce for a reason.
As I was reading 2 Chronicles today in my devotions and was struck by the AGE of some of the kings of Judah. Look at chapters 33-36 with me;
• Manasseh was 12.
• Amon was 22.
• Josiah was 8.
• Jehoahaz was 23.
• Jehoiakim was 25.
• Jehoiachin was 18.
• Zedekiah as 21.
Pretty young, huh?
Yes, I know this was a family thing. They were simply the next in line to the throne. And yes, some of them where really stupid and ungodly. They led pretty poorly and it may have been attributed to their age. But…what can we glean from this history?
Give them a shot. Wayne Gretzky says that “we miss 100% of the shots not taken.” Are there young leaders around you that just need an opportunity to lead? We’ll never know what they can do unless we release them.
Give them support. Josiah was 8 years old when he became king. The biblical text lists a large “supporting cast” that assisted Josiah in the wholesale reformation of Israel. My youngest son is roughly the age of Josiah, and we don’t leave him home by himself, let alone allow him to rule the Kingdom. He needs our help, which is why he has parents and older siblings. Who are the younger leaders around you that need a supporting hand?
Give them space. If there is anything I’m discovering to be true of teens and pre-teens (I have three right now) it’s that they want their SPACE. I remember that feeling. It’s the adolescent drive for independence. It’s normal and it’s appropriate. Are there younger leaders around you that need some room to grow, explore, try and fail? If you love them…wait for it…let them go.
Give them spiritual leadership. There is a strong indictment found in the Chronicles of the Kings: “He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, as his father had done.” This is an all too common assessment of both then and NOW. Young leaders need (and want) solid spiritual leadership in their lives. Don’t let them “figure it all out” on their own. Speak into that area of their lives. Guide them to “walk in the ways of the Lord, not turning aside to the right or to the left.”
Now, allow me to reminisce a bit further…
Currently our Foursquare movement is wrestling with the realities of an aging ministerial (average age of our pastors is approximately 56). Recently, I was in a series of denominational meetings where someone remarked that my involvement on a particular denominational team was representative of the “youth of our movement.” I appreciated the sentiment, but I politely had to interject: “Folks, I’m moving quickly towards 40 years old, and if I represent the “youth” of our movement then I think we just discovered a big part of our problem.”
Look around you. The young are all around you. Who needs a shot? Who needs support? Who needs some space? Who needs spiritual leadership?