I think I’ve discovered a new favorite part of being a pastor: witnessing the emergence of young christian leaders. I’m not sure why, but it gets me all teary-eyed. (Don’t judge me.)
It’s exhilarating to watch God’s love materialize in the shape of the life of a twenty-one year old. Their passion. Their wonder. Their innocence. Their talent. Their recklessness. Their courage. Their creativity. Their innovation. Their perspective. Their voice.
It’s fresh. And new. And green. And exciting. And inspiring. And hopeful.
I’m not sure why I’ve come to this discovery. Maybe it’s because I feel old enough now that I don’t see myself as “young” or “emerging” anymore. Possibly it is all the times I’ve felt overlooked because of my age or lack of experience are catching up to me. Or, it could be the memories of so many believing in me when I barely believed in myself. Whatever the reason, I love to watch young adults finding themselves as God’s next generation of leaders.
Craig was one of the first students to catch our attention during Brooklyn’s first year as the Middle School Pastor at Highland Park Church. As a middle schooler, he had a magnetic personality. The other students looked up to him, and most of the girls wanted to be standing next to him. He seemed to always be conscious of the outlier, and did what he could to make them feel included. With a dad as a worship leader, he developed a natural penchant for music. Now a college student at Trevecca Nazarene University, Craig is coming into his own as a songwriter and worship leader.
Erin is a new friend. Eleven weeks ago was the first time Brooklyn and I met her in person. It was also the beginning of her youth ministry internship with Brooklyn. Erin is studying youth ministry at Asbury College in Wilmore, KY. It was obvious from the start that Erin is full of intelligence and passion. She is focused and responsible, willing to do what it takes to learn to lead. Her commitment to justice is unbending. She knows the culture yet isn’t consumed by it. Tonight, she preached her last sermon to our students before moving back to college. I believe it’s a message she feels compelled to live: “It’s not the moments that change the world, it’s the movements.” Erin will be part of a movement.
To Craig, Erin, and every other young adult leader, keep it up! Be proud of who God has created you to be. Don’t let our ways hold you back. Take the shape God has created you to form. Partner with each other. Dream bigger than we have been able to imagine. And stay away from anyone who denigrates your potential. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Have you discovered the love of watching young leaders emerge?