I’ve been called “a seasoned pastor” which means more than the fact that I’m middle aged. There are lots of middle aged “new” pastors who were called to professional ministry as a second or third career. Being “seasoned” – I think – means I’ve done my share of preaching, teaching, breaking up church fights, mediating conflicts, and unplugging stopped up church toilets (both literally and figuratively.)
I was checking out the requirements for being a Field Education Supervisor in a particular seminary yesterday and saw that only “seasoned” pastors could supervise seminarians, and by “seasoned” they meant at least ten years of pastoral experience. Interesting.
Many of my seasoned friends love the idea of mentoring a “young pastor” and we have a really (really) hard time with unteachable young colleagues. But – O Seasoned Friends – maybe we are the ones who are unteachable as well. If we learned to serve churches that no longer exist, we need a mentor under the age of 40.
I often talk lovingly about my former colleagues, and let’s just name names here because they are extraordinary pastoral leaders: Rob and Matt were both in their mid to late 20s when we worked together and I learned amazing things from them. They mentored me. No doubt about it. When Matt would introduce me to friends as his “boss” I would recoil a bit. Yes, I was his boss in terms of supervision, but we mentored each other every day. I could share my whole seasoned wisdom thing and he could share technological, cultural, generational, and theological wisdom that can only come from a trusting relationship.
Trust is huge. Matt and Rob could have given me any kind of constructive criticism and I would have listened. They listened when I shared the same.
So, this post was inspired by this amazing blog post written by someone named Ron. The people who most need to read it probably don’t read blogs, so – for the love of God – please make copies to share at your next elders’ meeting. And then go out and hire somebody like Ron.
Growing 21st Century churches will thrive only with there is shared leadership and authentic (read it again: authentic) mentoring between generations. And it’s really more fun this way.
This post is dedicated to Rob, Matt, Tim, Gretchen, Steph, and Lauren with gratitude.