As a youth pastor, father and husband, and even more importantly as a Jesus-follower, there are things that will stand the test of time. What are some of those things that truly matter, that have weight, and will stand the test of time, culture, and opinion? Here are some things I’ve been learning in this last season of ministry, marriage, and following Jesus.
Don’t let the journey, keep you from your destination.
Some people start with amazing advantages, others with great disadvantages. It’s not our job to judge whether someone is fulfilling their divine potential, but it is our job to respond as best we can, with Holy Spirit empowering, to being all that God has called us to be.
Don’t get so comfortable with where you are, that you forget where you’re supposed to go. Sometimes God allows friction and heartache in your present, so you’ll get some motivation and desire for what may be in your future. Be the person who never stops looking forward to God’s future.
Don’t coast or settle, fight for God’s best for you.
The most annoying thing about young leaders, is that we too quickly think we’ve gotten to where God wants us to go. We forget that longevity, faithfulness, consistent fruitfulness, isn’t something you settle into. It’s actually something you fight for yearly, monthly, weekly, daily, moment by moment.
Churches don’t grow by accident, leaders don’t mature by accident; someone took the time to think, critique, listen, and respond to God’s leading and guiding. The moment you feel like you’ve arrived, is the moment you’ve begun your descent into irrelevance.
Don’t let selfish desire or personal ambition, undermine God’s call over you.
It’s easy to baptize selfish desire or personal ambition as divine mandate from God. We have this incredible ability to lie to ourselves, and sometimes we believe the lies we concoct about our future. The moment you marry selfish desire with divine mandate, what you’re essentially trying to do is defend yourself from scrutiny or critique.
Be the kind of person who allows God and His church to poke and prod at your ideas and dreams; that process allows the dross/impurities to fall away, and what remains is the best representation of God’s heart and mind for you.
God doesn’t just give you a calling, He gives you a people; as Jesus-followers we don’t ever function right apart from community. Find quality people to do life with, be transparent with each other, grow together and push each other to be better.
Don’t lose sight of real pain, gross injustice, or prejudicial suffering.
Ignoring those cries only makes us forget that we are all human. As Jesus-followers we know the world is messed up, but if we’re too numb to actually care, because we’re too caught up with ourselves and what we’re all about, then we’re nothing but salt that has lost it’s taste, or a light hidden away from those who desperately need to see it.
If I could challenge you to do one thing as a young leader it would be this, start caring about the world around you, the people in that world. Know what’s going on in the world, sorrow with the brokenness around you, and start imagining God’s future.
The moment you isolate yourself from reality, is when you stop yourself from being used by God. True religion is rooted in reality; it turns belief to practice and concern to care; it sorrows, imagines, perseveres and suffers.
Don’t find excuses to misrepresent Jesus.
If you call yourself a Christian, you have no more excuses. When you give into your carnal nature, you are not representing Jesus well at all. Stop doing that. Christianity doesn’t need any more hypocrites; we have enough of those. What we need are people who are willing to count the cost, who live with integrity, who love both brother and enemy, who forgive and don’t hold bitterness, who stand firm for truth but also arm-in-arm for love .
If you want to represent Jesus well, you need both a sacred God-perspective and reality rooted human-condition-perspective. It’s possible to walk with both. We need more listening and less preaching, more engaging and less mandating. Jesus asks me to represent him well to a world that desperately needs to hear His message.