This week I was able to have dinner with a pastor who is also the father of a member in my church. I had only briefly spoke to him before at the end of Sunday’s service and enjoyed a longer conversation. The pastor was older than me and I was able to soak up some of his wisdom and experience in the short time we had. This wasn’t a stated goal of our getting together, it just happened by being around him and talking about life and ministry.
That time was very encouraging for me. But it made me realize again how much I have missed out by those kind of relationships in the past. Growing up in a larger church, I was able to work alongside one staff minister in particular. But there was never any formal mentoring that took place. After going to college, it was even more difficult to have any relationship of that kind. Through seminary there were a few professors who graciously gave some time to invest in me beyond classwork and I still thank God for them!
But looking back – and in some ways, even now – what I ache for is a Paul. I’m only 31 (!), and I wish that I had someone I could have sat under and had direction from in ministry. Like Timothy, I wish I had someone I could call a ‘father in the faith’ (1 Tim 1:2). I long for someone more mature and experienced and godly who can help me make wise decisions about my own walk with God and my service to him as a shepherd over his flock.
So, here’s my plea to senior pastors: invest in young pastors. Find a young man heading to the ministry, or a younger man on your own staff, or in a sister church. Invest in him. Follow Paul’s example and pour your life into him. This seems to the biblical model of raising up ministers and a much-needed missing key of current training for ministers. The good news is, there seems to be more of this going on now. But there needs to be more!
As I read 2 Timothy, I see Paul’s heart in encouraging young Timothy. I hope that more and more pastors will be able to use those same kinds of words to exhort and encourage younger ministers today.