Leadership

Young Leaders

I guess I’m a Millennial, though I barely make the cutoff that many have arbitrarily placed on this demographic. I was born in the summer of 1980. Not really a Gen-Xer, barely a millennial, I awkwardly find myself in limbo between both worlds. I guess the best proof that I’m a Millennial is that you are currently reading my blog and this paragraph I’ve written has been all about me.

God has placed me in a unique position to hear from and understand young ministry leaders. Pastors, evangelists, youth leaders, parachurch leaders and church planters between their 20’s and early 30’s are an amazing bunch. However, they can often be misunderstood. Though my blog is most often written for our church members, I’d like to take this opportunity to explain a few things I’ve learned about young ministry leaders to other minsters who might read this blog.

Their Motives are Pure

If you’d like to discourage a young pastor – question his motives. It’s funny how we have the ability to transport ourselves into the mind and heart of another and judge their motives. I don’t know about you but I have enough trouble keeping my own motives in check to worry about policing those around me. Understand, their methods may be different, but their motives may be pure. The ministers I know just love Jesus and want to accomplish for His kingdom as much as they possibly can. We know that life is short and that one day we will stand before God as the stewards of Matthew chapter 25. We simply want to present to our Lord a life well lived and the fruits of our labor. To question is hurtful and only tends to distance them from those who would do so.

They Desire to Honor their Mentors

This is more often the case than not. Sure there are some bitter, loud and angry people out there. There are some young angry people and there are some old angry people. They are the ones who seem to get all of the attention. However, just because there is a loud and bitter minority who feel obligated to bash those with whom they disagree, doesn’t mean that all young ministry leaders feel the same way. We desire to honor those who have invested into us the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Truthfully, it’s easier for me to do than for others for one simple reason. My mentor, David Teis, treats me in such a way that it is easy to honor him. He doesn’t question my motives though he does privately question my thoughts and decisions. He doesn’t label me as immature simply because I may do something in our church that he chooses not to do. He doesn’t point to the “old paths” of some movement but to the old book of Christianity. The majority of young ministers desire to honor their mentors but their mentors make it nigh impossible because they still don’t see that the child in front of them has grown into a man of God.

They Desire to Follow the Holy Spirit

The guys I know are doing what they’ve always been taught. They search the Scriptures! When they hear a theological dispute, they go to the Scriptures. When they think about implementing a new method, they go to the Scriptures. However, the Scriptures are silent in some areas and vague in others. Though the Bible is very clear in the matters of lying, killing and adultery it is more ambiguous when it speaks to dress, music and entertainment. Therefore, where the Scripture is ambiguous the Spirit is specific. (I wrote about this here:Who Pastors the Pastor

Essentially, young ministers who have been taught to follow the Bible as their sole authority are less likely to be loyal to a denominational preference or personal standard they cannot see backed-up in Scripture. For clarification on specific issues they will seek the Lord in prayer and come to their own convictions, preferences and standards.

They Are Optimistic About the Future

Nothing will distance a young leader from the previous generation faster than persistent pessimism. I think this is difficult for older leaders because they lived through the watershed year of 1968 that literally changed our culture. Most of these changes were not for the better. For every Civil Rights movement we had a sexual revolution, advancement of the drug culture, skyrocketing crime rates and the brake-down of the family. We now live in a Post-Christian America! Fox News has made Billions reminding the previous generation what they lost. Preachers who fought against the cultural revolution of the 1960’s can become so discouraged about what was and never will be that they become almost nihilistic about the future. I don’t think this is purposeful but I do think it’s natural and there is nothing that discourages my generation more than being told that the game is over before we’ve even had a chance to suit up. Therefore, we flock in droves to whoever is optimistic, encouraging and positive about the future. This happens in the political arena (yes we can) as well as the Christian arena (best life now). I’m not saying my generation is right. I’m saying my generation is in need of some Biblical leadership that still believes we can do all things through Christ (Phil. 4:13), that all things are still possible (Mk. 10:27), and even though we face the giant of a Post-Christian America that there is a cause and the battle is the LORD’S (I Sam.17:47)! We, by faith in a powerful God, will remain optimistic about our future!

They Are Flawed

Young leaders are like any other leaders. We are deeply flawed. We are impetuous, ungrateful, self-serving, and extremely egocentric. We can lash out in anger. We become easily discouraged. Our pride keeps us from admitting our weaknesses. Though we consider ourselves tolerant we quickly dismiss anyone who doesn’t think just like us. Some of us have grown bitter over genuine spiritual abuse. Some of us have grown prideful over our commitment to the “old paths.” We say things we shouldn’t say. We whisper things we shouldn’t whisper. We blog about things that we shouldn’t blog about. We do things today that years from now we will laugh about and wonder what we were doing as foolish young ministers.

We are a flawed group. This is why we need one another! This is why we need the previous generation and the wisdom that only comes with long life. This is why we need to renew our commitment to the Word of God and the Spirit’s leading.

What do you think? Did I get it wrong? What would you add to this conversation? I’d love your comments below:

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  • Reply
    Jimmy Gilbert
    January 27, 2014 at 10:56 am

    You hit the nail on the head. I’m 35, and in about a year from now (Lord willing) we will establish New Life Baptist Church. My motive is to see lost people saved, I want to honor those that led the way, I want to be led by the Holy Spirit, I am extremely optimistic about the future, and my flaws are many. I appreciate your posts. Keep em coming!

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      January 27, 2014 at 10:59 am

      Thanks Jimmy! I’m excited about your new church plant. Just yesterday there was another amazing church planted by an incredible guy up in San Jose. A few months ago we saw one started in St. Louis. I could tell you about so many right now. And they all seem to be doing very well. It’s exciting!

  • Reply
    Nancy
    January 27, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Being a counselor, I understand completely when you ask, Who pastors the pastor? It is the same with a counselor, when you are discouraged, or depressed, people seem to think you have all the answers.
    Just keep doing what you are doing, preaching the Word and searching the scriptures. Build a support group that you can rely on by email, IMs or weekly breakfasts.
    Being the OLDER geraration, Gary and I enjoy your sermons and your ebullient personality xoxo N

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      January 27, 2014 at 11:20 am

      Nancy,
      You and Gary are too good to be true. Since your arrival at Southern Hills you have both been such a blessing to my family. I still don’t understand why you, and many others, choose to come back week after week. Thank you. In regards to “my pastor” after the Lord Jesus and my close relationship with Heather, God has given me David Teis (my dad) who has been such a blessing as we continue to meet every month for breakfast. He sharpens me, challenges me, prays for me, pastors me, and supports me. In fact, tonight for our bible conference he will be speaking at 7:00pm. if you are able to make it we would love to see you there.

  • Reply
    Jonathan Blankenship
    January 27, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Very good post, Josh. Thanks for writing.

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      January 27, 2014 at 11:21 am

      Thanks Jonathan! Your friendship has been really good for me this year. Sure appreciate you.

  • Reply
    Aaron Carpenter
    January 27, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Good stuff, Josh Totally agree. I can’t really add anything, but only to reaffirm what you’ve written I had a few thoughts:
    1. Sometimes it seems like the older generation may have done their job too well! By inculcating “sola Scriptura,” they created a generation of leaders who are eager to test EVERYTHING by the Bible, even some of those older convictions and preferences that maybe don’t have quite the Scriptural supper we were allowed to believe.
    2. I hope I am never guilty of deliberately running down the ministry of those who have pastored me. The past should be critiqued (see no. 1), but there have always been a few men whom I have been careful not to name, out of respect for them and the love they’ve shown me.
    3. That said, I think there are probably more than a few guys out here who CRAVE a mentoring relationship with an older, wiser, experienced, patient leader. We’ve got the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit, but we would welcome the investment of someone who wants to see God’s glory magnified in us rather than seeing us as an opportunity to extend his own legacy. I can count on one hand the number of older ministry leaders who have called me to encourage me, and it hasn’t been very often. But I thank God for them, and there’s a lot I would do for them.

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      January 27, 2014 at 11:49 am

      Your first point is excellent. nuff said.

      as to your 3rd point. I agree. there is a dearth of good mentors. I suppose that might be because there is a dearth of young men unwilling to listen? I don’t know.

      • Reply
        John Grasty
        January 28, 2014 at 11:43 am

        I agree there is a dearth of good mentors, but I can tell you from personal experience that being a young preacher, I reached out to a number of older leaders (not big shots who are “out of my league” so to speak), and I often didn’t get very far. I am afraid that the same presuppositions that created the doubt towards younger leaders have also created a hesitancy to mentor.

        • Reply
          Aaron Carpenter
          January 28, 2014 at 12:06 pm

          I’ve hesitated to reply here because I don’t know if I’ve been labelled one of those who are “unwilling to listen.” A little self-examination is probably good here. But so is a little push-back. I know from personal experience that asking questions can be considered “rebellious” or “stubborn,” even questions that are simply trying to clarify the Scriptural basis for long-cherished beliefs and practices. I’ve run across plenty who don’t ask questions and simply don’t want to be around those who do. Some are threatened by questions, some are bored by them. That’s why I said that some would love a “patient” mentor, one who will listen to questions and wisely point in the direction of the answers when they aren’t close at hand. Nothing tells me that I have little more to learn from someone more than the blunt response, “You think too much.” This doesn’t mean that mentors must be highly-educated, only sufficiently curious and courageous to recognize that when the heart is submitted to God’s truth, all questions are valid. In fact, maybe the worst thing we can do with questions is to try to leave them unexplored, because I guarantee someone else will try to answer them for us.

          • John Grasty
            January 28, 2014 at 12:22 pm

            Bingo. Aaron, you’re last line is pure gold. I fear more than rebellion or compromise, that is the source of many who have exited our ranks.

            Along with the willingness to be frank, open, and leave no stone uncovered, there has to be a level of compassion in that relationship. I’ve had people who don’t care about me correct me. And they were right (usually), and I listened (eventually). But a mentoring relationship has to be a deep one to be a lasting and effective one. I have been so impressed with Pastor Austin Gardner and the missionaries that he has turned out from Vision Baptist Church. I’ve benefited a ton from him “from afar”, but watching his relationship with “his guys” (I think you know Phil Bassham, don’t you?) has been such an inspiration. He gives them room to learn, lead, and yes, even make mistakes, but even when he offers the voice of experience and reason, they know that he cares for them. And they know that he is honest and open with them about his mistakes and failures. I’ve seen dysfunctional loyalty in leadership, but that is not the case there.

            I’ve determined that once we have men to train in Slovenia. That has to be the sort of relationship I have with them

          • Joshua Teis
            January 28, 2014 at 1:48 pm

            “Some are threatened by questions, some are bored by them.” – I think this statement from Aaron is very true.

  • Reply
    April
    January 27, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. There was a quote I read this summer and I sure wish I would have written it down, but I am 98% positive it was Spurgeon (or someone equally as well known) and he said something along the lines of old people being wise, but that the excitement of Christianity lies with young leaders and when you get old you can get grumpy and need to pass the torch down to young leaders. I should have saved the quote because I’ve needed it about ten times since I read it. Anyway, good stuff and THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT!! 🙂

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      January 27, 2014 at 2:35 pm

      Thanks April!
      I’m so very thankful for the Spirit-Filled, Loving, Holy, and Kind older minsters that have invested into my life and ministry. Our goal ought to be to honor them and love them as the Word of God teaches. There have always been men like Spurgeon and I’m glad I know a few of them.

  • Reply
    Daniel Hester
    January 27, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Very well written, Josh. I think you have raised valid points and as a young guy who is in my 10th year as a pastor of a church, I can vouch for the validity of what you have said.

    On another note, I wanted to be at idea day last week, but my schedule didn’t allow it. I’m shooting for next year though! Thanks for the encouraging words you provide in the blogs. I love seeing (from afar) and hearing about the great things happening in Las Vegas!

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      January 27, 2014 at 2:36 pm

      Hey Daniel! Thanks. We had a great time at our 1st Idea Day. I hope you will be able to make it to one of the next events we are planning. I will be announcing the next idea day very soon.

  • Reply
    Dan Murray
    January 27, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Pastor Josh, This was a very good post, and read. I appreciate it, and in fact look to you as one of the many mentors I have had the privilege of having in the early years of ministry.

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      January 27, 2014 at 2:39 pm

      What you are doing in the ministry with Pastor Ellis over at Gateway is amazing! I’m so excited to see what God continues to do through you. I was thrilled to hear that this past sunday you were able to see 6 individuals come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Evangelist David Young mentioned that it was in no small part due to your efforts that these individuals were able to hear of the grace of Jesus.

      • Reply
        Dan Murray
        January 28, 2014 at 11:35 am

        I learn so much from Pastor Ellis, in areas of wisdom, discernment, grace, and mercy. As a young preacher, i feel there is so much to learn from those before us. It truly is an honor to serve the Lord under such faithful men of God. This past Sunday at GBC was truly the Lord at work. We just watched in amazement how the Holy Spirit worked in the hearts of each one in attendance. The Lord gave Bro. Dave the exact messages we feel our flock needed. From GBC, thank you for your involvement as well, in having Bro. Young, and Bro. Self, minister with us Sunday Morning.

  • Reply
    Ryan Hayden
    January 27, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Thanks for writing this. I too am grateful for a mentor with a gracious spirit (I get to see him this week – it’s been over a year.) this was an encouragement to me.

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      January 28, 2014 at 7:14 am

      A good mentor can make all the difference.

  • Reply
    Doug King
    January 27, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Thank you Josh, I appreciate your thoughts and insight. Although I just barely fall into the gen-x category, I definitely see these considerations in my own ministry. God Bless.

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      January 28, 2014 at 7:16 am

      Hey Doug. Thanks for the comment. I agree that these thoughts are pervasive among all young ministers.

  • Reply
    Nick Reed
    January 27, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Josh,

    Great thoughts! I appreciate your ministry! Thanks again for hosting idea day!

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      January 28, 2014 at 7:16 am

      Thanks Nick – You really did a wonderful job presenting at this past idea day.

  • Reply
    Matt Davis
    January 28, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Josh,
    Thanks for the post! I’m 35 and right on the edge too, but have thought many similar thoughts. So grateful for a mentor that I still serve with in my father-in-law. I pray that when I am older that I will remember what it was like to be younger and give those guys the same consideration my generation desires now.

    I have hope for the future because I see many seeking the Lord earnestly for revival and another awakening. God hasn’t changed and still desires for His power to be seen in His disciples!

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      January 28, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      Matt, you bring up an interesting point. How will those of us who are “young” think of and deal with the next generation when we are “older?”

  • Reply
    Alan
    January 28, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    What time God has given us. Me of all people that have failed often should not tell others how to. Over the years I have often tried to change the world and could not. I call it predestination of things. The world will take its course. The Bible is true and I can not stop it or change it, but must realize that we are living a dying world lost with out Christ, and can not put off the unavoidable. That does not mean that we should not stand up for what is right but to know a sinful world will take its course. Do not become discredit or discouraged. In our life time we can only go through the doors that God opens up unto us for each generation. Trying to open doors that God did not give unto us is like beating ones head against a brick wall, all is vanity in which I am chef.
    And I still do it, politics, religions, culture sins, the world is on a collision course with destiny. We should not struggle with doors that are not ours to open, God has the keys, open the doors that God gives you and that door is in the hearts of Men and Woman to flee from the sins of this world to find refuge in Jesus Christ. Powers and principalities will be won before the millennium by Jesus Christ, and we will struggle in Christ until that day comes. The generation gap is nothing new, neither is dogma. A Holy God does see the pure in heart. change that in which God has given us to change and keep that in which God gave us to keep. For the Word of God is true not the culture of man. For the culture of man change as time goes on but the Word of God will stand true for ever generation. We should not like many hard shall Baptist have done before us crow back into our hard shall to wait out the storm. But keep pushing onwards for the Lord, as long as God has given us the key to the door.

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      January 28, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      Great thoughts Alan. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Dan Ruiz
    January 31, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Your blog is awesome dude.

  • Reply
    Tracy Bradford
    February 6, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Took a while for this old geezer to spool up the courage to post here.
    I love this post, Josh. It brings a smile to my aged heart to see you young guys grappling with the precisely the same set of issues my “generation” did, lo – these many years ago.
    That is: This post is a timeless refrain. When the children of those posting here are in their 30s, they will write as you have. And on and on ad absurdum.
    One thought, however: This is a vital “fundamental”: the words we use to describe things determine in large part what we do about (or do with) them.
    The Destroyer also knows this. Lets now, in that light, examine terms akin to “Post Christian America”, or “Mentor Shortage” in contrast to the terms “PreChristianRevival America” and “Generational Embrace”.
    Come to think of it, did the notion of identifying generations by demographic “norms” come from loving Christians, or from stoic academics spurred on by talking heads? Might that not be a form of hypostatization?
    Re: the battle: As usual, you are so correct. My hope is to some day drag my battle-scarred armor over to the Lord and see what we can do by way of a swap. (figuratively)
    Also: (as long as I’m on a rant) Experience teaches that Mentor/Mentee(?) is a process which only works when both parties recognize and love both flaws and graces reciprocally. One cannot accept mentoring from one not loved. And one cannot mentor without loving. Importantly, mentoring works best on a two-way street. One might think that through and find one’s self swimming in a wealthy pool of co-mentoring.
    I’m done now.
    I’ll sit down and be quiet.
    For a while.
    🙂

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