Helmut Thielicke, in what has to be one of the finest little (absolutely must-have) books ever written for those in school and considering pastoring or a teaching ministry, A Little Exercise for Young Theologians, said something like this some where in that book: “During the period when the voice is changing we do not sing.”
Recognize that you will change: I’m asking our pastor readers today to weigh in on this one. Here it is: Did you change your mind on something that, when you were a young pastor, you thought was absolutely important? What was that? Had I been blogging 25 years ago, I would have been harsh on the grace emphasis of a writer like Yancey.
The passions of young pastors are important, as is their enthusiasm. But some passions and some enthusiasm go too far when you are young, and when you get older and wiser those passions will be moderated into lasting wisdom. To use Thielicke’s image, passions make the voice screechy.
You are working out your ideas and your theology — at least I hope you are. It is indeed disappointing to me when someone thinks they’ve mastered theology as a result of a class in seminary or after having read an author or two. Especially when they haven’t earned the ideas themselves but are simply borrowing someone else’s ideas; we call this 3d person theology. Theology takes a lifetime to engage responsibly and wisely. So, hold your ideas a bit more tentatively when you are young. You’ll grow into moderated, confident wisdom. That’s the best time to chat about theology.