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.