Yesterday we had the privilege as a congregation to participate in a service in which our new senior pastor was ordained. As our former senior pastor pointed out, God ordains men; we simply recognize that ordination.
The service was wonderful. Our new senior pastor is our former associate pastor. He’s been leading worship for a number of years. The songs we sang were ones we’d sung many times, ones he’d written. We literally surrounded him and his wife as we prayed for their ministry, their family, and their leadership.
I’ve been thinking about this new pastor. He’s not much older than our son. As a matter of fact, his wife is younger than our son. We’ve known her since she was about 10 years old. We have known our new pastor since he was in school. We were there for some of his first experiences speaking the message. We’ve watched him grow and mature.
Now, I’ve come to terms recently with the fact that I’m easing into the “older” demographic. I’ve not yet hit the half-century mark, but it’s looming ever closer. I remember being a part of church leadership (in another church) in my late twenties and early thirties, and hearing those “older” people criticize young pastors for their lack of experience. They felt that no one that young could teach them anything. People my age were too immature to lead. We didn’t know anything.
I never want to be one of those people. I always want to be open to learn from anyone of any age.
I’ve also seen people of all ages flounder through pastoral changes. Some were so attached to the former pastor that they never really gave the new pastor a chance. He just wasn’t the same. Of course he wasn’t. Every pastor has his own style and focus. Others were fine with a new pastor as long as he did everything exactly like the former pastor did. At the first hint of change the criticism began, getting louder with each adjustment. We all respond to different styles, and it’s natural to gravitate toward people who suit your own style. So, I don’t have a problem with someone who decides that a new pastor’s style just doesn’t click for him. What I do have a problem with is someone who condemns a pastor for not being his predecessor. And, by the way, I watched a lot of these same people criticize that predecessor when he was the new pastor.
I never want to be one of those people, either. I trust our board and pastors staff to make good, God-led decisions for our congregation. I also trust God enough to know that He can use anyone, no matter the age or style, as long as that person is willing to be used. And, this young man is definitely willing. God has given him a vision for our direction as a church. I’m excited about that. And, as far as I’m concerned, this is the beginning of an exciting new season. I’m blessed to be a part of it. Change is a part of growth—things that don’t grow die.
I’ll be praying for our new senior pastor and his family, for our congregation as we enter this new season, and for our former pastor as he starts his own new season. We love him dearly, as we do his successor.