Forty-six is not very old. At least that is what I keep telling myself. Occasionally I get a metaphorical slap in the face to remind me that it is older than I realize.
Last week I joined a group of other pastors online to chat about ministry in a small Church. Once we were all online, the discussion started with us telling a bit about ourselves. Each minister said a personal fact or two and then shared a few details about their Church. I went last, as I always like to do, and I mentioned that I started preaching in 1993. One of the other members of the group stated, “That was the year I was born.” Next, a couple more chimed in with things like, “I wasn’t born yet” and “That was the year my parents were married.” I quickly realized how old forty-six felt.
Later that week I saw a list of top pastors under the age of forty. It only served to underline my increasing age. I will never make any list of “young” leaders. As the song says, “I am too old to die young.”
At first, these thoughts were demoralizing, but upon some reflections, I realized that my life is moving into a new phase. I am transitioning from a young gun who is ready to take on the world for Jesus into a mentor of young leaders. Through the years I have learned a few lessons that I would love to share with people to help them on their journey.
1. I have learned from some big mistakes. Yes, I have failed – usually over and over. I have made mistakes in my leadership, my marriage, my parenting, as a Christian, and as a pastor. The list is too long to share. Through those mistakes, God has shaped and molded me. I have learned things that have made me a better person, Christian, and pastor.
2. I have learned from success. While I can share many things that have gone wrong, I have done a few things right. Most of these came as an absolute surprise. God has blessed me, and I have learned from the positive experiences as well as the bad.
3. I have learned from others. I have watch people succeed while others crashed and burned. There are so many life lessons that come from the simple observation of other people.
As I wrote down my list of things, I have learned I realized that I am ready to enter a new phase. My life has been building to this point. Maybe this is true of you too. You are no longer that young person with big dreams. You are the person who has seen a healthy dose of reality, and you are now poised to shape the lives of our young people.
Is it possible that God has been molding you through all your life experiences so that you could be a mentor to those who need guidance?
One of the challenges of life is to accept new roles as they come to us. We desperately want to cling to the old and familiar ways. New roles provide new opportunities for God to use us.