On Encouraging Young Ministers

I have frequently heard well meaning ministers and theologians discourage young theological students by insisting that they must understand that they are not of the caliber of the great theologians of church history. While I understand that they are well-meaning–in that they are wanting to guard young men from the all pervasive temptations to pride and self-aggrandizement–should they not also be seeking to promote the gifts that God has given them for the edification and growth of the church? John Calvin was only 27 when he published his first edition of the Institutes, and he had been a Christian for just one year. If we say, “Yes, but that was John Calvin,” are we not trusting the man rather than to the One who gives gifts to men? Young men must be humble, but, by all means, they must use the gifts God has given them for the building up of the church. The apostle Paul certainly taught accordingly when he wrote to Timothy, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Tim 4:12).” It is incumbent upon older ministers and theologians to actively promote the gifts they see, however seemingly small they may be, in younger ministers.

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