"Even the youths shall faint and be weary;
the young men shall utterly fall.
But those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength."
Hi. My name is Jared. I'm 25 years old and I can't sit still.
When I was about eight or nine, my mom would play a game with me every morning before school. While waiting for the bus to come, she would bring me out to our circular driveway. She would kneel down and say, "alright, Jared - let's see if you can beat your time from yesterday. On your mark, get set, GO."
I would then proceed to run around the driveway as fast as I could, but as soon as I finished one lap, my mom would tell me that I didn't quite overcome yesterday's time. So I would run around again! This would happen four our five times until the bus finally arrived. Every day, on the last lap, my mom would tell me I had run my fastest lap and send me off to school.
Years later, I found out she had never been timing me. The real reason she made me run around the driveway was to deplete me of energy so that my teachers wouldn't have to deal with her hyper-active child acting the fool in school.
I've always had lots of energy. I've also always had big dreams and big aspirations for my life. Ever since I encountered God at 16, I've known that I was called to make an impact in the earth for God. Those who know me would say that I never lack passion and will always push forward to see things happen for God. Because of this, it's always been difficult for me to sit still and to wait on the Lord. I am really good at "making things happen," but often times, God will place me in a situation where I can't make it happen in my own strength, and it's easy to get frustrated.
While seeking the Lord about this, I was led to this passage in Isaiah. It jumped out at me in a way I'd never seen it before. I've read it countless times over the years, but the part that really stuck out to me with new revelation was verse 30:
"Even the youths shall faint and be weary;
the young men shall utterly fall."
Why would God highlight young men (and women) in this passage? You'd think it would be enough to just give instruction to "wait upon the Lord." However, it seems as if God can't give them instruction to wait on Him without specifically addressing the demographic of young leaders who might not be aware that they are susceptible to weariness, frustration, burnout and failure.
Seasoned leaders know that ministry and life in general is not a sprint, but a marathon. They might know this because they have lived life at a good pace, but often times, they were young leaders who DID fall and learned from experience that the only way to have success is to wait upon the Lord. However, young leaders (and I believe this is why God addresses us specifically) are filled with passion and vision. They're ready to get on the bus RIGHT NOW and take over the world!
But often times, the process takes longer than we wanted. This is where discouragement can come in and cause weariness... and some, just fall out.
Why do young leaders grow weary and fall?
Often times, we as young leaders have expectations of our lives, ministries and futures that don't come to pass when or the way we want them to. It's almost like what the Bible describes as "hope deferred" that makes our hearts sick. When life doesn't go the way we planned, we can be become frustrated and weary. We lose our hope in God's promises and end up walking away from them completely.
Everyone wants to be famous, and in our social-media driven world of celebrity-Christian status, often times the hidden desire in the heart of a young leader is something I call "ambition." Ambition is defined as "a strong desire to do or achieve something." Time and maturity allows one to weather painful experiences, humbling moments and history with God that recalibrate their ambition to see Jesus exalted. Young ambition, however, can often (not always) be self-centered and causes a never-ending cycle of frustration and dissatisfaction until the status we're looking for is reached.
Only time can grow perseverance and sometimes, when things don't go the way we want them to, it can become easy to quit or find something else that works better. Discouragement can really do a number on our desire to keep pressing forward. Without the perspective of TIME, we can give up too quickly and forfeit our blessing before we receive it.
You might think that only seasoned leaders can become exhausted, but it's the runner who isn't prepared for the marathon that suffers from exhaustion. As young leaders, we can become so fixed on where we're trying to go that we ignore the pace we're using to get there. It's often unsustainable. After a short period of time, we find ourselves running out of strength, running over people - and we often don't have enough of either to keep going.
So, how can a young leader make it?
"BUT those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength." Waiting on the Lord is not an easy activity, and believe me, it is something we must ACTIVELY do. But when we wait on the Lord, we realize that it's HE who accomplishes the work He started, not us.
Knowing that God is a good Father and wants to give us the desires of our hearts is the real game changer. It has always been a struggle for me to understand this, having grown up without a father for most of my life. We must trust in God's character - He's a promise keeper and good, good father. Resting and waiting becomes easier when we are convinced of who He is.
If we could just look at our seasons with perspective, we would see our current situation as the story God will use in our later years. You can't have a story without history. That means that where you are isn't where you're always going to be... so take the time to invest in your NOW. Spend time with the Lord. Prioritize His Presence and immerse yourself in His Word. Live in the present and make your story worth telling.
This is the hardest one, but I believe it's the key to a life of true power. It's so difficult whenever I go on Instagram and see every "who's who" promoting their ministry and showing off what God did in their service (aka: "look at how awesome of a leader I am and what an incredible ministry I've built, book me"). And I'm not saying that celebrating what God really IS doing is wrong. But take every opportunity to go low. God exalts the humble, not those who are busy exalting themselves. The secret place is where the Spirit's power comes from. And promotion often comes from the lowest place.