I have had the privilege of serving in one church my entire Christian life under a pastor who served the same flock for over three decades until his passing this last year. Statistics tell us that only 50% of ministers starting out will not last five years . I have to admit that I am afraid to hear a statistic like this because I am in my “rookie” years of pastoring. I know I have a lot of growing to do as a Christian, husband, father, and pastor of a church with some church members who are twice my age. But I remember Paul (an older seasoned pastor) who told Timothy (a younger pastor) to “let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12). Being blessed with the privilege of serving alongside a caring, mature, loving, and older shepherd has helped me realize there are two reasons why I am thankful for having older pastor in my life:
The author of Hebrews says, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke the Word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (Heb. 13:17). I remember my senior pastor’s example not only what he taught in the pulpit, but what he taught me in the counseling room. I learned what it meant to be a true pastor, not only during a Sunday School class or Sunday Service, but through a gentle touch and prayer for a sick patient at a hospital bedside. I don’t remember what he said when he baptized me or officiated my wedding, but I do remember that he was present at both of those important milestones in my life. Young pastors need older pastors who are not only able to pass down sound doctrine, but older pastors who provide a model of sound living (2 Tim. 3:10).
The second reason why younger pastors need older pastors is because of their experience. My pastor planted and served other churches, several years before he accepted the call of pastoring my current church. As a young pastor, I would often complain to him that we were moving too slowly in disciplining an idle member, or complain about my frustrations about some Christians who would take “forever” to “get it” when it came to biblical theology or instruction. He would just listen to me as I voiced my complaints when, little did I know, he was often pleading for some of these members in secret prayer or already had multiple meetings with some of these people; shedding tears in their homes throughout the week. Older and seasoned pastors often understand what Paul means when he says “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2), more so than younger pastors who have little experience in loving people.
I am grateful to the Lord for my experience in serving under an older and seasoned pastor. He was not the perfect pastor, but he was a faithful pastor who loved his God and loved his people. His example and experience will be forever cherished memories as I continue to serve in my church.
If you are a young pastor, don’t neglect the example and experience that older pastors can bring. If you don’t have an older pastor to look to, find some godly older members in your church that you can learn from. Or look to a fellow elder or leader in the church from whom you can gain insight and experience. Younger pastors, you need older pastors in your life.