This past weekend, I listened to a sports talk host dialogue about a rookie quarterback now starting the NFL season. While the host was careful to emphasize this rookie’s great potential, he also said (in my loosely paraphrased memory) something like, “I think he can be a great star, but to crown him this early can create all kinds of problems for him—like undue pressure and unattainable goals.”
I listened to that secular voice, and I couldn’t help but think of Paul’s words about giving pastoral positions before their recipients are ready: “He [an overseer] must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and fall into the condemnation of the Devil” (1 Tim 3:6). Here are some of the reasons it’s a wrong move to give a newer believer a pastoral position:
- He’s not likely been equipped yet to ward off the devil’s arrows. That is, the same devil who himself arrogantly fell into judgment wants others to fall with him – and recent converts often haven’t yet been discipled enough to recognize that enemy’s attacks.
- He almost can’t help but think he’s “something” when we too soon give him a leadership position. Even if he’s filled with wonder over God’s grace, few of us can fight the temptation toward ego when others affirm us publicly and positionally. Our hearts just lean that way.
- He can quickly become spiritually obnoxious toward others. Most of us can probably think of someone—including ourselves at times—whose zeal and youth hurt more than helped the work of the gospel. Arrogance and enthusiasm without wisdom can be a dangerous combination.
- He might assume he really doesn’t need any more training. After all, the church has already affirmed him and set him apart for a particular role. If they’ve noted God’s hand in his life to that level, why would he need to do more preparation?
- Today’s passion doesn’t always lead to tomorrow’s perseverance. The same young believer who drips with passion for Christ today might also wilt tomorrow under the first pressures associated with church leadership. Some of us, in fact, regret when that story was ours years ago.
- A recent conversion gives little time to develop “a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the Devil’s trap” (1 Tim 3:7). Non-believers don’t follow Christ, but they often pay attention to the lives of Christians—particularly if they can discount the gospel because of a leader’s faulty life. Having a good reputation assumes that leaders will have developed evident character and consistency.
What other reasons would you add to this list?