Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example
in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
1 Timothy 4:12 (ESV)

“Young ministry leaders, if you don’t want people to despise you
for your youth…don’t be despicable.” Sam Cassese, NGC Sermon

Not too long ago, I was finishing up my final semester at bible college. I was eager to begin ministry in the local church that I had been serving as an intern for two and a half years.

Within my first few weeks of full-time vocational ministry I began to see the cracks forming in my work, ministry, and personal life. I was a frustrating employee, a self-interested gospel worker, an inflexible teammate, and a disinterested follower of Christ. In my arrogance, I was blind to all these less than flattering realities. I quickly became frustrated by how slowly ministry was moving. As a musical worship leader and team builder, I often left our gatherings discouraged by how the band played, or how certain leaders disrespected me. It never occurred to me that I was at fault and needed to grow.

So where did I go from there? How did I get on track and begin to move forward? It all begins with putting it in park, assessing reality, and moving forward in first gear.

My big shift in thinking occurred during one of my first opportunities to be on the To Be The Church podcast, during an episode called Questions from a Recent Bible College Grad. I can recall Andrew and Tyler giving me advice regarding being a young leader in ministry, “Put it in a low gear and start rolling forward.” Now, “low gear” doesn’t mean take on fewer tasks, work fewer hours, or slack off. Beginning to roll forward in a low gear means taking extra time to get solid traction in your ministry. Being in low gear also means being careful not to waste valuable time spinning your wheels due to arrogance, unrealistic expectations, or a lack of spiritual maturity.

By God’s grace, I eventually found myself in that “low gear.” Every week church leaders and mentors began to help tear down my unrealistic views of leadership, ministry, and myself, and worked to build up a young leader with a healthy spiritual life, consistent and dynamic relationships with fellow staff members and ministry leaders, and a willingness to hold tightly to reality in the areas of leadership and ministry.

Young leaders, don’t wait to begin breaking down those habits that plague us and our attempts at ministering to God’s people! I encourage you with these four aspects of ministry in first gear:

1. The Word & Prayer

Pursue faithful devotion to Christ in your reading and studying of God’s Word and in your daily prayer life.

Where else would we start? As younger leaders, our devotion to Christ, our healthy handling of God’s Word, and our faithfulness in daily prayer is foundational to our personal development and our ministry to God’s people. Without God’s Word and prayer our preaching is just public speaking, our musical worship is just over-done karaoke, our attempts at discipleship are wasted time, and our evangelism is just pointing the lost in a different, wrong direction.

2. The Church & Community

Don’t fall into the lie that your vocational ministry position satisfies your very real need to be in community with other Christians.

Local church community is God’s design. In a culture that tells us to chase complete social autonomy, we need to lean into Scriptures clear command for us to be in community with fellow believers and to be gathering together regularly to continue learning and growing in the gospel. Finding deep, intentional community is not simple, but the pursuit of it is simple. Be consistent in seeking out people to care for, people to know and be known by.
Don’t fall into the lie that your vocational ministry position satisfies your very real need to be in community with other Christians. Click To Tweet
3. Your Leaders & Discipline

Find healthy and wise leaders to help you grow as a minister to God’s people, through encouragement and criticism.

When is the last time you invited wise leaders to check you? Are you open to constructive criticism or would you prefer ignorance to your issues? Scripture is very clear on the need for Godly leaders in our local churches. We cannot overlook the importance and value of wisdom that is held by the leaders in our churches.

4. Your Character & Competencies

Grow your character and your competencies. Work hard to be growing as a follower of Christ, a lover of God’s Word, and a faithful minister to God’s people.

Read Galatians 5:22-23… Read it again… Now read it one last time… That’s the goal. Our growth is measured by those fruits, those results of the Holy Spirit’s work in us.

Whether you’re preaching, leading musical worship, caring for kids and youth, or doing any number of roles in vocational ministry, grow in the fruits of the Spirit and in your ministerial gifts and abilities.

Young leaders, we have an incredible opportunity to begin growing as ministers of the gospel at a young age. Let us be filled with Christlike love for His people and let us be intentional with every moment as we care for His Church.