For those of you who don't know my story, I stepped into ministry leadership at the age of 16. Saying yes to the call of God on my life has led me places I never thought I would even dream of stepping into.
Over the past ten years, I have been able to Pastor and lead worship in some of the fastest-growing churches in America. I published a book at the age of 23 and even recorded a song on an album that Christ For The Nations Institute released. I've taught college-level courses and preached across the globe. And now, 10 years following my call into ministry, I am stepping into a senior leadership role as Associate Pastor of E2 Church in Sacramento, California.
Listen - I don't say any of these things to boast! I truly am humbled by the journey God has led me through. I didn't and don't deserve anything close to what I get to do! But my greatest passion in life is to pour into other #YoungLeaders who feel called by God, but don't know that God can do abundantly beyond all they could ever ask, think, or imagine!
I believe that God has so much more for your life and leadership. It's because of that conviction that I write this for you: 5 Things You Need To Know To Be A Successful #YoungLeader.
BEING SINGLE DOESN'T MEAN YOU'RE SECOND
Unfortunately, much of the 21st Century Church would never admit this, but believe that being unmarried makes you 'unqualified' to be in ministry. It couldn't be further from Biblical truth. The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 7 that being unmarried gives you a unique season of FOCUS and FIRE for the things of God. And just because you don't have a spouse, doesn't mean you can't make an impact. Marriage is not the qualifier for ministry - CALLING is!
You Have Freedom
As a 26 year old, single minister, I have been able to travel the world and preach the Gospel in places I couldn't go if I had a family. I have been able to make drastic moves when the call of God came so that I could live in radical obedience. Being without a spouse or a family can provide a financial freedom as well as time to pursue things that are scary and risky!
You Can Relate
I have always taken advantage of my singleness to relate with young people who are struggling with purity and practicing Godly relationships. Growing up, I only heard about sex from pastors who were ALREADY married - but that information was hard for me to apply in my own life. Being single has given me the platform to look at young people and say, "me too!"
You Have Responsibility
Marriage won't fix you porn problems or lack of relational boundaries. That's stuff you have to work on while you're single - and right now, you have the time to do that! Bringing someone else into that mess will only make it, well - MESSIER! Take advantage of the time you have as a single to really practice purity of heart, sexuality and emotions.
KNOW WHAT TO SAY, AND WHEN TO SAY IT
In my opinion, there are two different types of communication:
1. Biblical Standard
2. Experiential Wisdom
It is vitally important to know the difference between the two, because as a #YoungLeader, you will face issues that you have never walked through, yourself.
I can't tell you how many #YoungLeaders I see posting and preaching about things they have never walked through, accomplished or dealt with. This can really lead to problems and backlash from those who are more experienced to you. So let me break it down for you:
You don't need to be married to know and preach what the Bible says about marriage. You don't have to have been a drug addict to preach the truth about addiction and freedom. If the Bible speaks about it, you have full authority to relay the message. Just make sure you do it in a way that is humble and honest about where you're coming from. Don't pretend to understand something you don't - (i.e.) be careful what you say to PARENTS and other PASTORS. You can teach on Godly parenting and Biblical Leadership, but be careful how much you criticize something you've never walked through.
I always made it a rule that I would never preach on something I am not living. Now, I know this can seem impossible to uphold after a while, but as a #YoungLeader, it can be easy to fall into the trap of needing to "prove ourselves" to others by speaking about things we really have no business speaking about.
People want to hear about the thing you've LIVED THROUGH. For me, that was the message of revival and pursuit after God. I really didn't change the subject much for the first few years of my ministry because I wanted to make sure I was speaking on something I had authority in. Authority comes from having walked through it in victory. Know your lane and STICK TO IT.
LEARN HOW TO MANAGE YOUR TIME
This is one of the most important things you can do as a #YoungLeader. The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is how they manage their time - and not just their work time, but their FREE time.
Use Your Calendar
Block out every hour of your day and update your schedule weekly. Plan your days and schedule your meetings. Don't leave your days up to chance - be in control of your schedule by blocking out your time. You won't get to something that you never make time for.
Steward Your Free Time
You can't see every moment of free time you get as Netflix time. Schedule your free time as opportunities to do the things you couldn't do while working. For me, that was writing a book or developing curriculum and systems. Take advantage of the time you have and steward it well.
Develop Your NO
Know how to use your NO wisely. To get where you want to go, you can't do everything you'd like to do, i.e. going out to eat, hanging out with friends every night of the week, or spending all that money. Learn how to say "no" to GOOD so you can say "yes" to GREAT.
CUT OUT COMPARISON
To be a successful #YoungLeader, you're going to have to stop looking around so much. I know it's difficult when most of our lives are spent scrolling through social media outlets, but no one becomes a great original while they're constantly looking around.
Run Your Race
A runner can't run to win while they're looking behind them or around them. They have to focus on the course that has been set before them. Stop looking at everyone else's progress and RUN YOUR RACE. God has a specific call and timeline for your life - and the more you compare yourself to everyone else, the more discouraged you will be. There have been seasons of my life where it felt like everyone else was being promoted, except for me. Those are the moments we must stay true to the process God has us in. Only then, we will attain the prize!
Move In Your Anointing
Most preachers think that, by emulating their favorite communicators, they will rise to the top. This is silly. Now, I have nothing wrong with admiring and learning from others - taking what works and using it to advance the gospel. My style of communication has always come from a mixture of communicators that I admire and connect to, but I feel no need to BE them... you know why?
People receive spiritual impartation from the grace that's on your life. We have all been given a measure of grace and a unique anointing that is released by being true to who God has called us to be. When we realize that the grace on our lives CAN ONLY BE RELEASED by being ourselves, we wouldn't try to rob anyone of it by copying someone else!
Move in your grace by being who God called you to be. Those big shots didn't become big shots because they were being someone else.
Too many #YoungLeaders are dying to be heard, but never live to actually have something of substance to say.
This goes for any profession you might be in: you can spend all your time and effort fighting to get to the top, and once you get there, realize that you have no substance to sustain it.
David wasn't anointed as King because he was networking, posting or preaching in the right spots. He didn't receive the kingdom because of his branding or growth strategy. David was promoted because God chose him. But while David waited in the fields, he developed true substance.
My heart for #YoungLeaders is that they would grow in God in the secret place before they ever get to the stage. The lights are bright, and even though they are seductive, they are incredibly revealing when you stand under their hot beams.
Here are some practical things you can to do ensure that you live a substantial life:
1. Set aside time every day to PRAY
2. Read and study Scripture daily
3. Stay submitted to leaders in your life
4. Journal and take account of what God is speaking to you
5. Give your time to serve others
Instead of trying to get to the STAGE, develop your SUBSTANCE. Be a leader worth hearing and worth following before you recruit the masses. A life with substance will always be a leader that's sustainable. And once it's your time to shine, God will find you and call you out - even if you feel like you're in the fields of the forgotten. Ain't no one that can stop that type of promotion - the type that comes from God Himself!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jared Ellis was called into ministry at the age of 16 years old, after being delivered out of a life of darkness, depression and depravity. He has traveled all over the world, preaching the good news of Jesus Christ and has worked with some of the leading churches in the nation such as Bethel Church and Elevation Church. He also pastored in Abilene, Texas and grew a youth ministry of 12 students to over 300 - signs, wonders and miracles taking place each week. He also spent a season teaching Youth Ministry at Christ For The Nations Institute in Dallas, TX.
Jared is the author of "Yes: Simple Response | Radical Results." He is currently the Associate Pastor at E2 Church in Sacramento, California and travels as an itinerate preacher.