“I had coffee with a guy this week who just graduated college and wanted to know how he could prepare himself for being in ministry and becoming a better leader. He could feel the tension between the raw gifts and ambitions God had given him to lead and how he should refine them. The derailment of many young leaders is impatience, a premature demand to take the reins before the character or gifts are ready.”
I read this opening paragraph in an article “What’s Your Next Move, Young Leader?” on line last week. The article continues with 5-6 points of advice that I myself have given young people who are eager to find what God has planned for their lives. However, I would like to revise my advice from all those years ago.
Today if this young person who just graduated from college were sitting across from me, sipping coffee and asking for advice; I would say something quite different. I would say “Pause.” How can you prepare yourself for ministry and becoming a leader? Pause. How about 40 days in the wilderness fasting. How about 40 YEARS in the wilderness leading stupid sheep. How about loads of silence, and how about a crushing sense of being forgotten in a prison cell. How about being a servant when God has given you the vision of being a great leader.
“Pause your life.” You aren’t ready to begin yet.
Young people are always eager for their purpose to appear and for their life to start having meaning. I remember I was eager at that age too. “Just tell me what I’m going to do and I’ll be happy to get on with it!” was how I thought back then. But over and over in the Bible we see God preparing men for greatness by isolating them and breaking them down FIRST. Those are steps that NO college graduate wants to take.
Think about it. David didn’t become King over night. He spent years running for his life from a jealous King Saul. Moses was super eager to begin leading the Israelites. So eager, in fact, that he jumped the gun and killed a guy. Then he spent the next 40 years hiding on the back side of the desert with a bunch of sheep. Joseph had dreams and visions of his future greatness at a very early age. But when his brothers sold him into slavery and his slave master threw him in jail, I’m sure Joseph wondered if his dreams would ever come true. Jesus himself fasted in the wilderness for 40 days before beginning his public ministry. But there were 30 years behind those 40 days!
God plants the seeds of greatness in Isolation. Young Wannabe-Leader, get alone with God. Let God isolate you and break you open before he impregnates your heart with vision. In the quiet, in the dark, all alone a seed dies in the dirt before it grows up into the sunshine.
My advice for young leaders is to Pause before you rush out into the spotlight with your ears full of your own voice, and your eyes full of your own visions, and your mind full of your own ideas. Pause. Wait on God. Wait a long, long time if you have to. Great men of God are made in isolation.