First off let me announce that at this time I AM NOT moving. I’m not on the move list (as far as I know) and since I did not hear anything last week I’m pretty sure it will stay that way. Why do we UM ministers have to always lead with this stuff! But moving is on my mind since cabinet did meet last week and I do know people who are on the move list.
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.
Talbot Davis, over at The Heart of the Matter, poses a good question he got from a church goer. It poses a good question and Talbot has a great answer. Here is a snippet from the post and check it out for his answer.
Someone who doesn’t attend Good Shepherd said this to me recently:
“You’ve got to believe in the guy preaching before you can believe in the God the guy talks about.”
Before a preacher has any credibility on his subject, he has to have credibility in his person.
Authority is power. Those who have the authority to sign for packages or people’s paychecks have power. Those teachers who are ‘the authority’ on the subject have the power of influence on their students and those who are looking to them for direction or understanding in that subject matter. We grant politicians authority by giving them power to rule over that area of government. Preachers are given authority by just stepping behind the pulpit every Sunday.
Test your authority this Sunday. During your sermon ask your congregation to stand, raise their hands over their heads and keep them there. Go on with your sermon for a little while and see how many still keep their hands up.
Then tell them this: “Authority is allowing someone to have power over your life. We give Oprah authority by listening to her advice on tons of topics. We gave Tim Russert authority because of his wealth of knowledge and expertise in politics. We give lots of people authority over our lives but we need to make sure where that authority comes from, or else you will find yourself standing there with your hands over your head just because someone asked you too.”
Jesus authority was like nothing the people in the temple had ever seen. His authority came from his Father, our Father, our God. Christ authority was oozing out of him as he taught and then certified when he called the demon out. The joy of being a follower of Christ is we can claim that authority as well, but we need to use it properly or that authority gets tainted and lost. All we have to do is raise our arms up to heaven and ask for the strength and power (the authority needed) to survive life, and it is granted, because the one who has that authority promises to be with us always.