“Don’t let anyone put you down because you’re young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity” (1 Tim. 4:12, Message).
Late last year the associate pastor at my local church was reassigned to another congregation, where he became the senior pastor. While many of us lay members were sad to see him leave, we knew that his time had come to take the next step in ministry.
The young intern had come to our church fresh out of seminary with a heaping dose of enthusiasm, promise, and hope. Over a four-year period we watched him cut his teeth in ministry. Like a sprouting plant, he grew and developed before our eyes. Though he, like all young pastors, made some mistakes, it was evident that his pulpit presence had matured and his relational skills had flourished.
This past summer we witnessed his ordination, just a few months before we gave him a fond farewell.
While some of us wondered what would happen next, it wasn’t long before another intern arrived at church, fresh out of seminary with a heaping dose of enthusiasm, promise, and hope.
During more than 20 years I’ve seen several young pastors come and go at my church, the Emmanuel-Brinklow Advent-ist Church in Ashton, Maryland. Almost all of them have done well and are still pastoring today. It’s reassuring to know that God is constantly raising up young, dedicated gospel ministers to feed His flock and build His kingdom. He continues to call a steady stream of spiritual leaders to guard the walls of His church and warn believers of Satan’s onslaughts.
it wasn’t long before another intern arrived at church, fresh out of seminary with a heaping dose of enthusiasm, promise, and hope.
However, as new pastoral interns complete their training and preparation and enter a new field, they need safe places to grow. They need a loving, forgiving, and sensitive ecosystem in which it’s OK to make mistakes. As they face the delicate problems and needs of a local church, interns need time and space to analyze and digest the environment and determine how their talents and skills can be helpful.
Above all, pastoral interns need the guidance of spirit-filled mentors, experienced ministers who will steer young pastors clear of pitfalls and potholes of ministry, and allow them opportunities to experiment, innovate, and build their confidence. Mentors are also needed to speak encouragement and give instruction to God’s young workers, just as the apostle Paul offered to Timothy and Titus.
While the church is an organization, it’s also a living, breathing organism, the body of Christ. And in this body we’re all ministers, called to serve our fellow believers. For their part, young pastors, as good physicians, must exercise great care as they minister to sin-sick souls.
“Keep a firm grasp on both your character and your teaching. Don’t be diverted. Just keep at it. Both you and those who hear you will experience salvation” (1 Tim. 4:16, Message).
*Texts credited to Message are from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.