Making room for young leaders
One of my most fulfilling ministry activities is teaching Hope Sabbath School, an in-depth interactive Bible study with a small group of young adults. We limit the group to 12 and strive for a diverse mix with an average age of 30.
Two years ago, the executive producer of the program suggested that we give teaching opportunities to some of our young adult team members. The result was electrifying, and the response from our audience was almost immediate. The vast majority of our Hope Sabbath School members liked this new format. Unfortunately, as one might expect, not everyone agreed. One longtime participant gave this response: “I definitely would not let the young leaders take the helm. Not sure about these new generations. They have yet to prove themselves.” Such reticence is understandable, but how can future leaders prove themselves unless we give them an opportunity?
Young adults are innovators. They feel no compulsion to defend the status quo, and they have little turf to protect. Mark Zuckerberg was in his early 20s when he and four university colleagues launched Facebook. By age 23, he was a billionaire, and by age 26 he was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year.1
Sergey Brin and Larry Page were 21 and 22 respectively when they met at Stanford University. Larry was a University of Michigan graduate, and Sergey was the Stanford student assigned to show him around cam-pus. Within a year they were working together on a search engine called BackRub. Before they had reached their mid-20s they registered the domain name Google.com.2 Though still working out of their garage office, they had a bold vision to change the world. Today, Google’s net worth is approximately US$350 billion.3
The Bible is filled with narratives of young adults who were called by God to make a difference in their generation. Joseph was a young adult when he was promoted from an incarcerated prison warden to Pharaoh’s appointed second-in-command. Daniel and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, were young adults when they stepped into significant leadership positions in Babylon. Jesus was 30 when He began His ministry, and He intentionally made room for young leaders. For the most part, His disciples were not a group of senior statesmen, but young adults.
As editors of Ministry, we also want to make room for young authors. Two of the articles in this issue of Ministry were written by young authors—Kéldie Paroschi and Chigemezi Nnadozie Wogu. Both were prizewinners in our most recent student writing contest. Paroschi’s manuscript, based on Isaiah 14, will challenge you to think carefully about the Word of God. Wogu’s manuscript is a thoughtful consideration of mission to non-Christians in Africa.
Do you have young adults in your circle of influence who have leadership potential? Mentor them, nurture them, and give them room to lead. Yes, they will make some mistakes, but they will also make a difference. You might even want to send a note of appreciation to some of your mentors who had faith in you and gave you room to lead as a young adult.
If you are a young leader, we want to encourage you to start writing for Ministry. When I was a young author, I often struggled with this thought: “someone can write it better.” I finally concluded that, while that might be true, God was still asking me to write. If God has given you something to say, write it down. Your manuscript, like the ones written by Paroschi and Wogu, may be used by God to impact many lives. Each person who reads Ministry has a circle of influence.
Why not make a decision today to become a contributor to our professional journal for pastors? We are committed to making room for you.
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1 Lev Grossman, “Person of the Year 2010: Mark Zuckerberg,” Time, December 15, 2010, "http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/ article/0,28804,2036683_2037183_2037185,00.html
2 Google is a play on the word googol, a mathematical term for the number represented by the numeral one followed by 100 zeros.
3 Their Net Worth.com, http://www.theirnetworth.com/Businesses/Google/.