Young Clergy Rant

My name is Jim. I am 32 years old. I am glad I am the age of your child or grandchild. I am happy you see me as a baby faced, just learned to walked, can now rent a car alone, pubescent adult because when I look in the mirror I see the random gray hairs, the new wrinkles, and father of two bags that are under my eyes. Thank you for telling me I look so young because there are days I feel so old BUT….

I am not a youth minister, I am THE minister of my congregation. I am not new to this, I have been doing ministry for almost 8 years now, after my 7 years of education and internships. I have loads of experience, because in those 15 years since I graduated high school I have: interned at the conference center twice; worked as the youth minister a congregation; did a credit of Clinical Pastoral Education while working with inner city children; did four field education placements working with three different churches where one I preached weekly while going to Divinity school full time and another ministering to patients with HIV/AIDS; took a year appointment in Mossley, England where I was the minister of a three point charge; was an associate minister for 4 years and now I am in my 3rd year of my current appointment. For 11 years I worked hard to gain my ordination as an Elder of the United Methodist Church.

This is my calling, my career, my passion, and my life. Thank you that you think I am a cute puppy in the window of a pet store but I am not to be looked at and pinched. I am here to push you, step on your toes, preach you the gospel and make you uncomfortable because I want you to peruse a deeper relationship with God and to open your eyes to how much the world needs that same God. I want YOU to be the hands and heart of God and go out into the world and offer the love of God to the people you meet.

I am not too young to be a minister. I am not too young to run a church. It doesn’t bother me if you don’t take me seriously but do know that week in and week out I pray for God to inspire me with the words I should preach, give me the strength to offer care and comfort to the sick and dying, and to use my life, all 32 years of it, to be a vessel for God to transform this world.

I have a long career ahead of me but a decent amount behind me. I am not your grandchild or your child, I am your minister, your shepherd, your leader, your pastor.

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13 thoughts on “Young Clergy Rant

  1. You are never going to win this battle. You will be too young until you are too old. You will remind people of their children and grand children. Later on, you will remind them of their parents and grand parents. There are those who will use this against you and those who will love you no matter what. Bottom line — there will always be someone who will try to steal your joy — don't let them. I have been serving churches for 30 years and have been on both sides of the fence. You have been called by God — that is all that matters.

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  2. A congregant told my wife: “Good job! You'll be a great preacher one day.”

    And my wife responded: “Thanks! And you'll be a great congregant one day.”

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  3. I'm 33, am a pastor in the Presbyterian church, live on the Central Coast of California, and have a very similar story. This is a good rant. However, I was hoping for more swearing. Nevertheless, well done. I just went out to lunch with a retired pastor who was trying to tell me about the five stages of grief, and bless this guy, he only could remember four. After 4 units of CPE, I had to gently help him remember 'bargaining'- as I was rapidly descending from denial into anger and finally hitting depression by the time we finished lunch and I realized that I had foolishly allowed him to take me to lunch, thereby eliminating any escape plan I had to finish my sermon and possibly have a day off. I better stop before I start a rant and swear.

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  4. Can I get a whoot, whoot!

    I'll be 33 this year, was called 10 years ago and have been in direct clergy leadership for eight years now. I hear the same stuff.

    What has been most difficult at times for me is how many in the church think they can only teach me (oh, and they are).

    Thanks for the rant. Stay blessed…john

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  5. as a 29 year old pastor in the umc I am incredibly disappointed at this post.

    Look at me… I have done all these things so you need to respect me because I have arrived. I am a seminarian I've been to england, I am an elder… look at me look at me look at me… I am experienced… and I'm not a boy anymore. Yet this post reeks of a childish need to be respected, and quite possibly affirms the concerns your congregation may have about you.

    blessed are those with rich spiritual experiences… oh wait no, I think it was blessed are the poor in spirit.

    You have been called to shepherd a flock, in all their weakness which includes their inability to love you. Maybe, just maybe, there is something for you to learn from them.

    Don't abuse my Lord's sheep young shepherd.

    I receive the same young guy stuff as well… and guess what, I am a young guy, and I shepherd people who have walked with the Lord many years and seen and experienced things that I have yet to see and experience. Yes we have a mantle of authority, but so did Christ who willing was and is debased by his sheep.

    So that is my young pastor rant.

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  6. Thanks for all the comments. A little background on this post may help some with their interpretation of it. I have never felt this at my current appointment. I have had nothing but respect and acceptance there. TeacherLady can back me up on that.

    This rant came out of meeting some other people in public who didn't know I was a minister and was shocked that I was because “I'm so young.”

    I think all pastors go through stages of great joy and disappointment in ministry. There are times when it is the best job in the world and then there are times when it was the worst. Jay, you are right, we just have to learn from them all.

    I also know that as one grows in one's pastoral authority one cannot have fear to proclaim who they are. Everyone, EVERYONE, has an idea of who you are 'supposed' to be as a minister. This post was just another way of claiming my walk in ministry and how it defines who I am.

    Thanks again for the comments.

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  7. I will back you up, certainly! And don't be concerned about what that other pastor might have said about being disappointed. Some of us live with our hearts on our sleeves. Some of us keep them inside. You said nothing hurtful or untoward in your rant. God understands. We are none of us perfect. Sometimes it's good to let it out than let it fester – so that we can be better at our jobs…especially when our job is as important as yours.

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  8. Jim,

    Great rant, I get this all the time too. It was nice to meet you at the retreat. Thanks for listening to my rant about church stuff on the porch yesterday. Whether you realize it or not, it was a gift just to have you listen.

    If you're interested, my blog is richonfaith at blogspot.

    I look forward to reading more of your stuff.

    Rich

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