I made it through the first year of pastoral ministry largely with the aid of naivety. Better said, grace-given naivety. But then came year two. Year two was similar to year one. We were having a good time and God was being faithful in spite of our ridiculousness. But year two was also very different than year one. I started to see my need for sages. My eyes were gently opened to the fact that I did not know what I did not know.
I had read Biblical Eldership by Alexander Strauch. We had a plurality of elders in place for our church from the start. Problem? We were all in our twenties. Oh yes, passion for Christ and his church were there. But wisdom was lacking. God intervened.
In 2009, two local pastors stepped up into my life and began investing in me. These men were a little older and way more experienced in life and pastoral ministry than I was. As I would leave meetings with them I remember thinking “I have so much to learn.” These guys were humble. I was not. They cared about me. I cared about myself. They listened to me. Which, in turn, intrigued me into wanting to listen and learn from them.
Pastor Paul told young pastor Timothy, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” 1 Tim 4:12. I was starting to see through the spiritual eye crust, if I want to lead God’s people I need to humbly learn how to follow, submit, and learn from others. How could I set an example for others while having a “know it all” attitude? Up until that point, the only wisdom I had to offer was borrowed wisdom stolen from preachers I podcasted. I was a wisdom poser.
2009 also happened to be the year I met my future wife (Jordan). She has started attending our services and she immediately caught my eye. Even in my pursuit of her, it was revealed that I needed guidance. I needed sages. How was I supposed to date a girl who was attending our church? Thankfully, one of those local pastors was able to help me navigate through those hard questions. As a sign of God’s massive providence, things worked out! I liked her and she liked me 🙂 But dating Jordan stirred up more questions for me. I was realizing more and more how young I was. I wasn’t just that I did not know what I did not know about ministry. It was true of life as well!
Nearing the end of year two of pastoral ministry, I was confident something had to change. I needed help. We (Our Elders) needed help. God had given us another local church that was willing to help. So I talked to my pastor friend. He was understanding and kind. Our conversations eventually lead to a church merger.
So much fruit came from the merger. God provided for me the mentors and experience that I needed. I got to learn from older, wiser men who had been in the trenches of ministry for decades. God even gave me a lifelong mentor, my friend Gregg. To this day, he remains a mentor and humble teacher to me. Two of our elders ended up becoming their elders. To this day they are faithful serving. It is amazing to see what God has done.
I am trying to keep lessons learned sharp in my memory. I will forever be a learner and will always need mentors. 2009 was the year God graced me with the gift of seeing my youth.