More training, or take a risk?

The team leader looked me straight in the eye. “I’m only here because someone took a risk with me when I was his age.    I want to do for him, what someone did for me.”

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The team leader looked me straight in the eye.  I had raised an eyebrow about a decision he had made over using a teenager in a ministry area. And he was sure that he was right.

“Doesn’t he need more training?” I asked.  “Is he really ready?  From what I’ve heard there are some rough edges. More than a few. Doesn’t he need to – grow up?”

“Chris,” he said, “I’m only here because someone took a risk with me when I was his age.   A number of risks. I want to do for him, what someone did for me.”

“I’m only here because someone took a risk with me when I was his age.    I want to do for him, what someone did for me.”

Boom. It was 2 Timothy 2:2 happening before my eyes, but at a younger level.

My default, as an older, more experienced Christian leader, is to require more training, more knowledge, more skills, before we give an opportunity.

In fact, I think it’s got worse since I stopped teaching in a seminary and moved back into church.  When I spent my days surrounded by people in their middle twenties, I knew that they were packed with talent, and had been given tons of experience already.  Sure, compared to a greying, bald guy in his late fifties, their CV was relatively empty, but equally sure, it was enough.  And I used to lean on my similarly-aged friends to take a risk and employ them.

Each year I used to think there were two or three graduates whom I would gladly go and serve under as their assistant.

And they only got there because someone took a risk on a teen.

skateboarder-2373728_1920Yes, I know there’s a reason an elder is called an elder – I was a trainee, younger-elder if you will.  And the teen in the opening story wasn’t/isn’t remotely close to that. And we weren’t talking about preaching or anything really heavyweight. This was a low-risk risk.

In fact I was ordained in my early twenties, and the same dilemma must have applied to thoughts about me, on reflection.  At the time I was involved in summer camps for teens and early twenties, and we inhaled that train-and-take-a-risk-then-pick-up-the-pieces-and-train-again mindset.

We inhaled that train-and-take-a-risk-then-pick-up-the-pieces-and-train-again mindset.

My team member was right.  The teenager didn’t need more training before the opportunity.  Righty handled, the opportunity would itself be a training opportunity, and would provide the basis for more training in the future.

But first, we have to take the risk.

Go on.  Dare to do for someone else what someone once did for you.

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