- The following post has a Jerry Jenkins story in it - so you know it will be good.
Let’s call her Bob - that’s not his name so it’d be real confusing to her (see what I did there, now you don’t even know if it’s a guy or a girl). She-ra was giving me a really hard time - I’d had about as much of it as I could take. It didn’t matter what I tried he still was “all up in my grill.” So I called dad. I explained to him what was going on. He calmly (dad always seemed calm) guided me to 1 Peter and read a few verses from there.
At some point I said: “You’d think he would understand, he has a son who has started preaching.” Dad, said, “Well, you didn’t tell me that.” Then he explained the oddest of phenomena to me. He said: “It doesn’t happen all the time but most often when you are working with a church and one of the members has a son go into ministry or their dad is a preacher they become hyper-critical of your work.” He explained that sometimes they think having a child in preaching, youth work, counseling, missions, etc makes them an expert in that field. They think their child is doing it right and when you do something different than they do then you are wrong and they want to show you the right way. It is pride gone awry. Other times it is darker than that: They may believe if you leave then maybe the church will hire their child to work with the church there.
And, I’ve seen it. Yet, it seems so askew to me. You’d think that that person would be the most supportive, the most understanding and the most appreciative. And, yes, sometimes they are and then are such a blessing - but then there’s the others.
I must confess that I have not always been as kind to ministers as I should have been, especially youth ministers. But as more and more of my family members went into ministry and especially when my sons went into youth work I have become increasingly compassionate toward all in ministry, especially youth guys, and their difficulties and challenges.
He is most often a younger brother in the faith. If married he probably is just getting started in that relationship and his young marriage could struggle under the stress and time away that they must deal with. He has to take on unfair criticisms and comparisons and most demonstrate tremendous restraint and patience with those critics. He may not be cut out for it (I sometimes wonder who is cut out for this sort of abuse) but he is still a soul you want to go to heaven. He has probably pulled up roots and moved a piece from parents and familiar support. He is very likely grossly underpaid (even though he agreed to accept that underpayment - proof that his heart is probably in this for the right reasons). And we wear our youth guys out. It used to be in the summer but it is getting more and more year round that they must pull Herculean hours. He’s a sinner - redeemed by Christ’s blood and God’s grace. He will make mistakes, but he is trying to be God’s man. And unless you can prove otherwise, please try to be an encouragement to the guys who “go into the ministry.”
When I was in Hamilton one of the young men was especially talented and went to the University of Alabama on a football scholarship. One Saturday he started the day 4th of the depth chart but before the half was ended he was playing quarterback! Yes, Gary Hollingsworth set some records that day and in the Saturdays that followed the next two years. I knew his mom, she had been widowed at a young age. And his brothers were (and still are) cherished friends. When his mom remarried I did the ceremony. Over those two seasons I went to as many games as I could. That’s when I got to meet Tom Roberts, Eli Gold and a bunch of other famous folks associated with the program. In his second year as a starter there was a change in offensive coordinators and Gary had some rough games. Sitting in the stands one of those games about three rows behind me the guy had had “a few too many” and was yelling vicious language at Gary. As my mom would say: “It flew all over me.” I wanted to punch the dude out - well, really not, I wanted to say, “Hey, he’s just a boy. He’s only 20 and he’s doing the best he can and I’d appreciate you shutting up.”
I’ve felt that way when I hear people bad mouthing young ministers. No, my sons aren’t perfect but I’ve learned much from them and their families and I try to be generous in my assessment of youth guys because - well - because they are a Christian and want to go to heaven just like I do.