9Marks just released its new eJournal on helping young pastors. I highly commend it to you–it looks very, very helpful.
I had a thought on this topic. It strikes me that young pastors, which I hope will one day include me, need to emulate our leaders and heroes, but only to a point. We need to proceed with care and caution in a way that men with outsize personalities and gifts do not, in many cases.
If you don’t have Mark Dever’s pastoral gifts, don’t purge your church rolls right away. Be careful. Build goodwill and trust. Don’t think that just because Capitol Hill Baptist or Bethlehem Baptist or Mars Hill did something one way, that that is the only way to make change and growth happen. The Lord works, but He generally works through personalities, all of which are different. Knowing that might save a lot of us young guys a lot of needless heartbreak.
Everyone rightly fears the intramural basketball player who has the self-conception of Michael Jordan but the talent level of the waterboy. So too do lay Christians rightly have concerns about the guy who thinks he’s John MacArthur but who, in God’s providence, is not.
There is tremendous and way underappreciated good in self-awareness. Self-awareness is not in style right now. Self-promotion is. Self-deception, painfully, seems to be as well. In a highly modifiable world, we’re all celebrities, we’re all noteworthy, we’re all talented, we’re all beautiful, we’re all deep thinkers, and we’re all worthy of lots of attention. Most of this is not true, and this pattern of thinking harms us greatly as we prepare for our callings.
So we need to ground our identities not in Facebook profiles or Myspace images, but in Jesus Christ, who has made us new beings, who has literally redefined every atom of our metaphysical and existential existence. Then, we need to take a good long look at ourselves, an honest, humble look, and assess where our gifts and strengths lie. How much do people naturally follow us? What is our best style of leadership given our personalities? How can we contribute to kingdom work?
This kind of sober self-analysis, which comprehends the best of our strengths and the worst of our flaws, will set us up well to live, firstly, and to minister, secondly. It will help us to realize what we should set out to accomplish, even as we remember that our God can do far, far more than we might initially think.
So that would help, I think, a lot of young guns who set out to be the next big thing. That, and not talking like their hero. How many guys do you run across who actually adopt the speech patterns of their heroes, and never realize it? Yikes. For such folks, copious amounts of self-awareness are recommended.
Don’t talk like someone else. Be yourself. Young would-be pastor, look yourself in the mirror in the morning before you start the day and gently intone these words: Dude, you’re not Mark Driscoll.