Last Saturday I talked to a group of men. Most of them are my age or older. Here’s how I started my talk:
This year, I’m experimenting with being intentional about helping young leaders succeed.
I know a bunch of people who are in their first or second year out of college. Some of them are getting paid by churches. Some of them are not. Each of them has indicated a desire to draw closer to God, to make a difference for him with their lives. They are earnest, motivated people. But they are very different from each other. The thing they have in common is this desire for God.
And this year, I want to learn how to help them survive.
Those of us who are older than 30 have heard those words of commitment before.
Some of us said them ourselves. We went forward at a summer camp. We went to a youth conference. We woke up in the middle of the night.
And we said, “I want my life to make a difference for God.”
And then we walked into the real world of flat tires and insurance and babies and death and doubt. And we lost some of the passion, some of the resolve. Or we watched people we know make promises to God and then go awry.
So when we hear younger people say, “I want my life to make a difference for God” we smile and lean back and say, “They’ll learn.”
We lean forward and we say, “I appreciate your resolve. But when you’ve seen as much as I have, you’ll know that all that gumption isn’t of value.
And we wait. For them to falter. Because it always happens.
But I think there might be a better way.
What if we said, “Sweet! I want to help. I can’t do it for you. But I know that I would have been able to manage better if someone would have encouraged me rather than being cynical, if someone would have offered me tools rather than temptation, if someone would have offered me affirmation rather than absence.”
I want to be a helper, be an equipper.
Not as an overseer. I don’t have supervisory authority over very many people.
But I do have maturity authority. I’ve lived longer. I’ve made mistakes. I know I don’t have the spark, but I’m not convinced being skeptical is more healthy that being helpful.
I want to share life and faith with them.
And you can, too.