An Open Letter to Millennials In Ministry
Dear Millennial currently serving in Ministry,
I, first, want to commend you for the dedication of your hearts and the thankless sacrifices that you've made that are simply too numerous to give a name. You have taken many responsibilities off the plates of your leaders by willingly becoming a part of the 70 elders in order for your Moses’ to go up to the mountain to get greater revelation, direction, and impartation from the Lord.
You are extremely dedicated and committed to a vision that you know is greater than you. You are carrying your weight to make sure the vision is going to be successful and sustainable not just for now but for generations to come. Being so dedicated, you can attest to the fact that it has cost you some late nights, early mornings, strong coffee/tea and an extra work bag dedicated to ministry.
You gave “the best” of your 20’s—and moving into your 30’s—to do the work of the Lord and there have been times when you felt like there were other things you could have been doing, places you felt like you should have been or other things you wanted to do all together. You have chosen to do the work of the Lord over precious family time, group trips and even indulging in self-care. I understand, it has been a battle to determine what balanceis and if it even applies to you at times.
I am saying all of this because I understand—I know far too well. It has taken some hard conversations with my leaders, family, and friends to tell me that it is okay to sit down and allow myself to tend to who I am as a person. I didn’t know what balance looked like nor if it had anything to do with me because I would work myself to the point of exhaustion thinking that it was “normal”. Growing up, I have seen this time and time again and I simply thought “that is how it is supposed to be done”.
I have noticed that this imbalance is big for those who grew up in church. In my observation, there is a drive in those who grew up in church period -- it doesn’t matter the denomination. One thing that was instilled in us was the discipline of showing up even if we didn’t/don’t feel like it. Now that I am 30 years old, I am finding that this is still the case. I still find myself showing up and completing my tasks, as expected, no matter how I am feeling. I have come to realize that when it is no longer “fun” or I don’t find “joy” behind the work is when I haven’t taken some time for myself and tended to what Tracy needs. Now I have to mention right here, I am grateful for the leaders that I am submitted under. They see me and can tell when I have on my mask for the moment and they do a great job at helping me through my rough patches and growing pains. I am silly enough to believe that everyone has such discerning and caring leaders.
This is the sole purpose of this letter to each of you. I want to encourage each and every one of you to make sure that you get some adequate self-care this year! I want you to make sure that you are living your life to the fullest! Take a trip, take the class that you always wanted to take, go to an event, a concert or simply a day or two to recharge yourself. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for doing so either! If you are no good, then I promise you, the people whom you are serving, even your leaders, will be able to tell and feel it -- if they say anything to you or not. The weight that you carry can easily turn into you becoming the weight that others will have to carry. Then you will become the very thing you could be frustrated about right now.
Be sure to have open communication with your pastors on how you are feeling. Do not be messy and spill your frustration and tired attitude to other lateral leaders who are on the fence. Truth be told, there are no weak links in your camp -- in fact, there are links that can bear more weight than others. This has nothing to do with the amount of time you’ve served or grown up in church but entirely based on your willingness to serve the Lord.
This year, do not get upset with those who may not have as big of a capacity for serving as you; and do not get envious or jealous because someone has a bigger capacity than you. Be great with what you have and where you are. Do not pressure yourself into performing any tasks or assignment in ministry or relationships. That will cause a lot of frustration and feelings of being unsuccessful. Confidence comes from simply knowing that if God gave you the assignment or task then He can’t fail you. You did not go through the things you had to go through for others to glean from a competitive and unhealthy mentality for serving and ministering to others. It doesn’t matter how many people liked your status, how many people are following you or retweeting your words. If these things move you, you have to check to see if ministry is a popularity contest or personality based. Jesus isn’t in any of it. Matter of fact -- they were confused by Him yet wanted to learn from him and the people loved, hated, killed, crucified, and cried over Jesus within a matter of days!
I beg of you, PLEASE do not be one of the millennials who fosters and cultivates false humility. Pointing up to the sky with your index finger as if you are giving the handclaps of praise to the Lord when in fact you are lusting over recognition. Titles should not be the thing we are secretly after just because we want to sound good on paper and during an introduction for an engagement or assignment that we have not taken seriously enough to consecrate for. In my personal opinion, correcting someone when they call you by the title that you have been elevated to in the Lord (in a serious moment) is a lack of stewardship that you have died for. You have sacrificed your life to lead and the Lord has found you favorable to call you higher yet you suddenly do not want that acknowledgment. I say, let people call you what they call you -- it will all come by revelation when you do what’s been asked of you if you take it serious or not.
Yet, I understand that some people want the title(s) only to have the benefits and not have the responsibility nor the accountability for what it all encompasses. I find it very interesting that some want the “graduation” without fulfilling the prerequisites of the elevations. A person that sits in an office that another lusts for can tell when a seat has been “stolen”. The way of life is different, the press is different, the understanding and presentation are different for those who have exchanged their lives for their cross. Someone who has been resurrected by the Word can understand another in their process of hanging on their own cross of life and judgment will not occur. This is why it is highly important not to forget where you came from, what you use to do, and what you have been through. Encouragement, life, and compassion should be more than a live video, retweet, repost and a “share if you are not ashamed of Jesus” on social media. It’s a service of the heart.
As a millennial, you have gone through a lot. Please don’t accept the statements of “you haven’t been through anything” or “you’re too young to be tired”. There are 5-year-olds who are battling depression, 10-year-olds who are committing suicide because of bullying on social media, 15-year-olds in abusive relationships. We, as millennials, are the ones these kids would trust before the older generations -- especially if grandma and grandpa are no longer with us on this side of time. Those statements don’t apply to us, in my humble opinion.
No, we haven’t had to deal with racism to the magnitude of our parents and grandparents; yes, people are speaking out about the sexism in the workplace and our parents most definitely did not have to deal with the pressures of social media. Yet, it is our generation that has to minister to our fellow brothers and sisters who are dealing with our counterparts that are being slain in the streets and broadcasted for the world to see millions of times a week. Our emotional stability and mental health are in constant jeopardy every time we open an app and take a scroll while dealing with the comparison of a fulfilled and joyful social life and the reality of the indescribable depth of loneliness hidden from the public’s view.
Yet we show up, with hands lifted, to press through it all to worship a God who is bigger than all of that and more. I understand the difficulty in it all at times and I honor your press. I honor your choice to still have joy. I honor your choice to still choose love. I honor your choice to still continue to acknowledge that even though it all...we are crazy enough to wholeheartedly believe that All things REALLY DO work together for the good of those who are called according to God’s purpose.
Just like Jesus, we know that people will start out strong with you in ministry and these can be your closest friends. Yet, as you grow together there will be some hard truths and some decisions that have to be made (John 6:60-69). Some of the people you start out with in ministry, life and even love, will not stay. We have to adjust ourselves and our hearts many times in order to stay a healthy leader. This doesn’t mean you cut them off but you can love them enough to protect your heart. Sometimes this is seasonal and then there are times when this is a long-term situation.
We, millennials, have this thing of cutting people off once hurt has reached a place of the offense. We have seen this a lot when it comes to relationships. It has nothing to do with “I’m going to do me” type of attitude but it has to do with unresolved hurts and unforgiveness. Allowing these situations to stay in our hearts will only cause a lot of unhealthy ministry and a lot of people that we will subconsciously run from because they will “remind” you of someone who has hurt you.
When people hurt you within the ministry that you are serving, it can be the hardest hurts that we have to “get used to” when breaking into ministry. It can and will be the hardest thing to understand, at first; how the same people who hurt you are the exact same people who need you...and these are also grown people!?! How sway?? Wasn’t it Joseph’s brothers who sold him into slavery? Wasn’t it Jesse who didn’t even call David from the fields to count him when the prophet Samuel came to anoint the next king? I am saying that if you cannot deal with the hurts and cuts of ministry within your own house, then how will you deal with the hurts and cuts of ministry that come externally? The enemy wants us to dishonor and “leave” our houses wrong, in order to taint and crack the foundations of ministry. Don’t do it! Don’t submit to the feel-good feeling of leaving before it’s time. Stay in the pressure cooker until you’re ready to stand!!
Don’t give up, face your challenges, have the hard conversations, live strong, love big, take time for yourself. It is ok to let go and try something you’ve never had before. Everything will not be easy this year but you know that we are built for this. We are called for such a time as this. More importantly, we are here to be the legs of the elders’ words! Honoring the voices of those who have gone before us is extremely important. I have seen days, weeks, months and years of people’s ministry cut short because of dishonor of elders, leaders, and pastors. Those who have shepherded your soul, prayed and covered you from the wiles of the enemy and counseled you through the hard times. Honoring these prominent people and voices in your life will bring the longevity.
I completely understand that some of our elders will not understand the way we view or even “do” ministry. Our mindset is a bit different than our parents. We push the envelope and that can make some of our elders uncomfortable. This does not give permission to dishonor, disrespect or belittle anything that they have given us. We are because of them. Our foundation stands because of their prayers, sacrifice, long-suffering and perseverance in not giving up on us. They may not understand the spark they have seen but they saw something and we MUST understand that we need both generations working together in order to advance the gospel. As Pastor YPJ said, “we need both Elizabeth and Mary”!
Remember it is all for a purpose….It is all for the making of you and you will see just how much time is filled with swift transitions. 2018 is going to be a good year for you! Believe it!! Your submission and work ethic have been cultivated for this time. This will be a year that will blow your mind and the scripture of eyes have not seen nor ears heard will bless you beyond your own understanding!! Stay open to believing it all.
Your Fellow Millennial in Ministry and Leadership