When I took my first full-time pastorate, I was 31 years old. During my first couple of years there, I heard a number of different comments about my age. One came from a woman who stayed for a year, then left the church. I saw her at a hospital visit when her father was having surgery—and she confessed, “I left because I couldn’t handle being preached to by a child.”
Others were milder: “I have grandchildren older than you!” Or, “I have been married longer than you’ve been alive.” But they all had the same basic theme: you are really young to be our pastor.
Some churches like the thought of having a young pastor because they believe a young pastor will bring young people in to revitalize an older congregation. Search teams enjoy a pastor who is “35 years old with 20 years’ experience.” Other churches bring on younger pastors because they believe a younger pastor may require a lesser salary than one with more experience.
I write this to encourage younger pastors. Granted, I’m not aged—I’m only 41. But having been in ministry 20 years with constant reminders even today of how young I am or look. If this is you, don’t let it discourage you.
First Timothy 4:12-16 says:
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them,so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Even at a young age (Timothy was likely in his mid 30s when he took over the church at Ephesus):
- Set an example in your life.
- Stick to the Scriptures (reading it and preaching it)
- Use the gift God gave you and your fellow pastors confirmed in you.
- Stay personally and doctrinally sound.
In other words, regardless of how others see you, keep your eyes on Christ and the calling He bestowed on you, and all will see your progress and will not take your age into consideration. And when someone brings up your age (as either a mere observation or to try and humble you), thank God that there is age limit to whom He can use. And praise God He is using you for the greatest of all tasks: preaching the gospel and pastoring His people.