I’m 33 years old and have been at my current assignment as a co-lead pastor for over 4 years now. In the earlier days of my pastorate here, rural Northwest Missouri, I was asked by a young man, younger than me, this question that many young pastors are asked: “Aren’t you a little young to be a preacher?”
Let me stop there and explain that “preacher” word for a minute. Many people in our area aren’t very familiar with pastors. The churches here hire part time preachers whose main role in their local church is to preach on Sunday morning. Pastoral ministry, as I have come to know it, is not very understood here or probably in most settings.
Now, let’s address the young part. I am young. At the time I was only 29 years old and childless (everyone knows you get really old once you start having children). What made the question even more interesting was how young the person was who asked it. However, being more familiar with the area it’s not a misguided question. This young man had never seen a preacher or pastor as young as me.
At the time of the question, I told him that all pastors have to start somewhere on the age spectrum and here I was at 29, starting my first pastorate in a local church setting. To be honest, at the time I definitely felt like the question was a knock on my ability to pastor at such a young age – that I wasn’t cut out or qualified to be a pastor. I thought the question was silly and maybe even mean.
However, as I have thought more and more about this question my feelings have changed.
I was asked, “Aren’t you a little young to be a preacher?”
The correct answer to that question is: YES! Absolutely! You see age doesn’t qualify me to be a pastor. Experience doesn’t qualify me to be a pastor. My degrees don’t qualify me to be a pastor. If they did then I would never be old enough, I would never have enough experience, I would never know enough to be qualified to be a pastor.
God’s calling in and upon my life is the ONLY thing that qualifies me to preach and bear the title of pastor. My age, my education, and my experiences are all good and helpful along the way, but without God’s calling and faithfulness I am nothing and could never hope to be a faithful and fruitful pastor.
The temptation for us young pastors, and even old pastors, is to believe that somehow we’ve arrived and are God’s gift to pastoral ministry – we’ve earned it on our own and are entitled to receive respect and honor as pastors. When we fall into that temptation, or jump into it, we get offended by questions regarding our age and the quality of our ministries.
I hope and pray that God will help me to always choose a different way. A humble approach that acknowledges the truth of the answer I outlined above and the approach I believe my friend, Pastor Josiah, demonstrates in his book.
We are young. Most of us don’t have tons of experience. Several of us are very educated. Yet none of that qualifies or disqualifies us as pastors. It is God who calls. It is God who equips. It is God who faithfully sustains young women and men in ministry.
Yes, I am a young pastor, but God has called me to this ministry. And God is faithful!