Michael Jordan,* “Authority and the Young Leader,” Leadership (July 2012)
The older Paul writes to the younger 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). Paul is clear that age is not a limiting or delimiting factor for serving Christ and His Bride. He is also clear what is absolutely essential: to be an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. In other words, be centered in the gospel of Jesus Christ and be dependent on the Holy Spirit who will enable to live worthy of the gospel.
Each age and stage has strengths and weaknesses. It has been this way since the fall (Gen. 3). In this article, Jordan writes to young people as a young person outlining “four guidelines for establishing your credibility with older generations.” I simply outline them, but encourage you to read the whole article.
Integrity is your greatest asset.
Receive other generations with joy.
Be aware of—and honest about—your weaknesses.
Reserve a piece of yourself that cannot be touched.
Sometimes the church realizes its need for young leadership; sometimes it doesn’t. If you are fortunate enough to be a young leader in these times, don’t waste it by failing to responsibly use the authority granted to you by God and others. Your youth is a gift from God. If you can treasure and use its strengths, and humbly acknowledge its weaknesses, both you and those you lead can grow in grace.
I will often say that when a local church initially calls a person to serve as a pastor or on the pastoral staff, they will grant leadership and authority through title. But over a short period of time, that leadership and authority will be acknowledged and conferred on the basis of character and a humble submission to the Lord Jesus Christ and a joyful obedience to the written authority He left the Church, the Word of God. At the end of the day, that sort of leadership is not age-dependent.
*Jordan works for church relations at Houghton College in Houghton, New York. He is also an adjunct instructor at the college and an associate pastor at Houghton Wesleyan Church.