What Doesn’t Impress Me – A Message to 20s and 30s

I’m writing this post for the benefit of my fellow brethren and sistren in their 20s and 30s who have a call of God on their lives for the Lord’s work.

Last week, I was walking around my house waiting for my Internet service to kick back on and a thought struck me.

In my mind’s eye, I saw a very popular Christian leader. This is someone who several years ago the Lord laid on my heart to pray for.

In fact, I wrote down my prayer in a black Moleskin notebook.

The date was October 7, 2010.

My prayer for this person was specific. I prayed that this person wouldn’t spend years trying to reinvent the wheel (as they are doing now), but rather, that God would give them an earth-shaking revelation of The Eternal Purpose that would leave the person reeling and overturn much of what they have learned.

I prayed that they would humble themselves to learn from those who are ahead of them in this area and in the area of authentic ekklesia life (a subject that this person talks a lot about, but has never really experienced).

Till this good day, the Lord hasn’t answered my prayer for this person. However, this is the thought that struck me last week out of the blue.

This thought applies to the person I’ve prayed for as well as to every other Christian “leader” where the shoe fits.

It doesn’t impress me how devout you are.

It doesn’t impress me how sacrificial you are with your finances.

It doesn’t impress me if you’ve sold 1 million+ copies of one of your books.

It doesn’t impress me if you say, “The Holy Spirit led me to do this or that.”

It doesn’t impress me if you have thousands of young followers.

It doesn’t impress me that no one speaks bad about you. In fact, that concerns me (Luke 6:26).

What impresses me is this:

Are you humble enough to learn from those who are ahead of you in various areas of the spiritual life? Especially the ones you’re pursuing right now?

If you aren’t, then all of the above isn’t worth a toot on a tin whistle in my opinion. And at the end of the day, you’re going to find that your efforts into this new venture you’ve discovered will fail and you’ll be announcing that failure to the world.

But the problem will be something you may not realize. It wasn’t the venture itself that failed, it was your efforts to bring it about.

I’ve lost count of the people who said, “Yea, I tried such and such and it doesn’t work.”

Cough. No, you just did it the wrong way . . . you did it your way. And you didn’t really know what you were doing. You were trying to reinvent the wheel yourself. You never humbled yourself to learn from someone who has pioneered in that field.

Take heed: The Lord doesn’t bless the works of those who aren’t humble enough to be students of others. This violates a sacred principle — the cooperation, interconnectedness, and interdependence of the body of Christ.

“The hand cannot say to the foot, I have no need of thee.”

And this doesn’t just apply to your own tribe, movement, or denomination.

It applies to the whole body.

Selah.

Related: 6 Reasons Why “Discipleship” Isn’t Working Today in So Many Lives

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Comments

  1. Wesley Schoel says

    Well this article certainly seems to have struck a chord with a lot of people. We live in an era when the dissemination of information is easy and broad. The gathering of that information is just about as easy. It’s of little wonder that the younger generation doesn’t see the need to honor their elders and the years of experience they have gained. Of course, this has been true through the ages but I believe you are pointing out that this “dishonor” seems to be even more pervasive in today’s world.

    What many people don’t seem to understand is that knowledge isn’t always the “key”. In fact wisdom is the ability to apply knowledge in beneficial ways. Experience provides wisdom and it is wisdom that seems to be shunned in today’s world.

    I hope that those in the older generation can exhibit enough humility to entice the younger generation to hear our wisdom as they gather knowledge.

  2. Rachel says

    I’m a 23 yr old college student, and I can totally witness to the fact that this is so true. While I have friends my own age, I absolutely love being with people more mature and older than me, and spiritually speaking, this has probably been the biggest reason my relationship with The Lord has advanced so deeply. There is something so special about surrounding yourself wi spiritual mothers and fathers.

  3. says

    Agreed. My generation is full of arrogance. I am so sick & tired of the “leaders” of my age.

    There is not a lack of true elders like people claim……. there is just a lack of respectful, submissive young people who will look to the true leaders. The true leaders are not glamorous, cool, popular, famous….

    The leaders of my generation mistake the freedom of the Spirit poured out on all ages.. to be an excuse to be, have, do outside of His will & time. Just because we have the power, gifts, passion… doesn’t mean we ought to exercise them right away….the Lord Himself was the best example of not using His gifts, passions, power… until it was the Father’s time & Father’s way.

    There is a real lack of maturity in the “leaders” we see…they have not ‘learned obedience through suffering’.

    They want to be, do and/or have… outside of God’s will…. they are taking it….grasping it….vs… receiving…waiting…. and they are justifying it because of how many can be reached….

    Sad.

    And then we have those on the other end of the spectrum like I was for 20 something years of my life – putting leaders on a pedestal – and begging for a mentor… and the Lord really has not answered that in the way I thought He would…. He has a lot of work to do in my life until I’m ready for that mentor I desire. He wants me to be fully connected to HIM first and never again to put a person between me & Him…

    I still desire that elder in my life to walk alongside and learn from…. I believe I do have that in some ways in my life right now… it just looks a lot different than I thought it would. He is protecting me from my temptation to follow leaders before Him. To put leaders in a place in my life they were not meant to be.

  4. Jacob Hale says

    As someone in this age group I’ve found your work and the work of those associated with you to be extremely helpful and vital on my search for organic church and understanding God’s eternal purpose. Your labors have helped me immensely and I would simply like to say thank you brother Frank. Though I’ve never met you, your ministry has impacted me greatly. I whole heartedly say amen to this, ‘the hand cannot say to the foot, I have no need of you.’ I have found it to be paramount in my walk with Jesus. Again, thank you for all your labor brother Frank!

    Sincerly,
    Jacob

  5. Jo says

    I hear what you are saying, that you would walk over cut glass to glean from someone who had greater revelation than you had. I have always been like that (I think), yet I had not come across the unlocking of the truths about Gods ultimate plan for us until the last few years thanks to God using your books, blog and recommended books.

    It amazes me that I could have been a Christian all these years and not seen this in the Scriptures even though I’m an avid seeker and reader….but I’m just thankful that I’m beginning to see and live by this.

    I’m taking your course “Living by the Indwelling Life of Christ” and have to thank you for taking this teaching from the theoretical realm to the practical “how to”. I’m finding it excellent. Sorry if I’m slightly of topic.

  6. says

    Reminds me of a quote from Major W. Ian Thomas:

    “It is not the nature of what you do that determines the spirituality of any action, but the origin of what you do.”

    Or in other words, what makes something significant is whether or not it originated in Christ. I’m still learning this, but I’ve learned the most in this area by watching those older brothers and sisters who have given themselves to the cross of Christ and embody living by the Lord’s life in daily, practical living. Unfortunately, they’re far too few.

    • says

      Well said.
      There are far too few, simply because we have not taught the body of Christ the importance of the Cross as our only means to a victorious life.
      1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

  7. Tony says

    Thanks Frank for your boldness and truth. We are sick to death of denominations and ministers seeking their own glory. Any person or institution in Christ must fervently desire unity. I should be able stop by any church from coast to coast and feel at home and comfortable, but is that the case? NO WHY Because
    of just what you said. Thanks again.

  8. Pastor Mark says

    Frank, 20s and 30s added up almost catches me. Jesus is bringing about a real transformation in our day. It is so different that churched folk in our culture have difficulty recognizing it as Gospel. When I began reading reading your stuff I said, “This is a great voice describing what Jesus is doing!” Thanks for making your books more readily available and for speaking to the rising generation of leaders.

    Our rapidly growing churches are too often built on strong personalities, mental assent to truths, and skillfully applied human dynamics to “build a church.” As a Pastor I want one thing for those I lead. I want them to know Jesus, to experience his Presence, Power and Peace in their lives (Ephesisnas 1:17). I want them to be loved and love with His love. I have found that message had been disturbing in established congregations. A young father said, “I have always loved Jesus but never heard that I could actually know him because he lives in me.” This brings tears.

    Thanks Frank for being a Prophetic Pastoral voice. You continue to be an encouraging (and fun) help to me. Must be Jesus.

    map

  9. says

    Bro Frank,
    Your prayer may not have been answered concerning this certain Pastor, but God sure answered it in my life.
    It happened around 2010 and the Lord has completely re-assembled me.

    Thank you brother for lighting a fire in me (giving me a true picture of Jesus)and
    praying for us servants that needed to be taken out to the woodshed!

  10. Lonnie says

    I once heard a young pastor in a large denominational church say “the Lord dealt with me this week that my generation had been educated beyond the grace the Lord had given them to walk in”. Grace comes by humbling ourselves and I trust God to raise up those who will continue to grow through personal humlity. In Him

  11. says

    I really appreciated your thoughts on this topic. I will admit, I had to read it a second time, a few minutes later to really capture your heart. I was scared at first this was a complaining session, but than I was able to discover the heart.

    It’s something in the conviction within your own heart, that has resonated with me. I work within a poor neighborhood in a fledging town. We are surrounded by leaders of the sorts you talk about. There are days I question myself; because I do not jump and jive well with the common trends of ministry in our city. I don’t have people talking all good about me all the time, I haven’t sold books and I am pretty dirt poor.

    However, at the end of the day, I know I am calling to the Lord’s call. At the end of the day, even those who don’t respond well to what we are trying to do, I find myself submitting to their experience, wisdom and leadership.

    There was a time in my life, that I really think as a late teen, that I had this same mentality to “invent the wheel” and “go it alone.” Now, older and a little wiser, I find myself too, bothered by these individuals and disillusioned by the way people “cling” to them.

    Honesty, in the middle of that Change in my life, I came across your books. I credit you a lot, for a change in mindset. That and I wasn’t playing in punk bands anymore, trying to stick it to the man. A family, will always change a mindset.

    So, how do we plant seeds of reality, into the lives of leaders like this – as a way to invite someone into healing and response?

  12. Cathy Roys says

    Frank your clarity is a voice crying in the wilderness. Truth boldly spoken is our lifeblood. Just coming off a moment of despair after reading of a very well known “leader” poised via a book and conference to assassinate the character of a stream of faith not his own. I do not doubt he is unaware Christ would never amputate part of His beloved body in this way. It made me despair of the wisdom of our “leadership.” Your understanding of the interdependence of the body one for another is so desperately needed in this fractured age. Thank you for bringing your light to a darkened Church.
    Cathy

  13. says

    Thanks for sharing this. It is something most of us need to hear. This is one of those Judges 19:30′s – “Consider it, take counsel, and speak out.” I just had a conversation with someone last night who told me how much they were looking forward to learning from ministering with me. I told him there are no hierarchies and that I am just as much a student in all of this as he is. I went on to affirm his character, his love for God and other areas that I thought would be a great blessing to me as he helps me grow as well. I dislike using those kind of examples because it seems like a pat on the back. I don’t mean to do that at all. This post just really reminded me that that attitude must prevail in as many areas of my life and as many relationships as possible.

    It is when we think we are the only ones who have much to offer and that everyone else is beholden to us that we get in huge, huge trouble. There was a point in time I realized that almost all of my study was for “public consumption” – preaching, teaching, and blogging. It wasn’t good for my soul. I needed more study as my own spiritual discipline…not for writing a lesson or teaching it or speaking it to anyone else. Just me and God and that’s enough.

    • says

      Thanks Matt. I’ve gotten lost of responses from 20s and 30s expressing gratefulness for the post. When I was in my 20s and early 30s, I would walk over cut glass to find someone who knew the Lord better than me. Or who had labored in the passions that I was pursuing in Christ for longer than I have. And thankfully God brought those people into my life (or led me to them).

      The person I’m speaking about in this post is in their 40s. I am hopeful that God will still answer my prayer for them. If not, it’s only a matter of time when they will announce, “I tried it and it didn’t work.” So I’m “saving the tape.” ;-)

      • says

        God has given the 20s & 30s a great generation to learn from. The next big trend in churches is going to be intergenerational ministry. Youth ministry is being dismantled or at least re-envisioned with a better connectivity to parents (Mark Holman’s work) and the rest of the congregation (books that need to be written). Age segregated ministries create a system of gaps in the church that we build for them (youth ministry, 20s & 30s ministry, etc)) but then expect them to bridge the gaps back into the rest of the church on their own when they graduate high school.

        Through youth ministry we have also created a place where many find faith in a group rather than faith in Christ. When the group is removed (graduation) they leave. We say they left the church but we never really “had” them to begin with.

  14. says

    Wonderful post, Frank. I am 39, and have had to learn some of these lessons the hard way. My “day job” is teaching worship and music ministry at a Christian college. Young people wanting to be worship leaders sometimes have grand aspirations of leading in a big church with lots of notoriety. Before I let them lead worship in our Chapel service, I will usually give them a series of menial tasks to test their humility and attitude — things like setting up or taking down tables and chairs, picking up trash from the Chapel, putting away equipment, or other such things. I also like to have them be part of the Tech team, helping with lights, media and sound so they are serving behind the scenes before being on stage.

    It doesn’t always happen this way, but it’s been a great way to measure a student’s attitude, ability to follow directions, and serve behind the scenes.

  15. says

    Hi Frank,

    As a twenty something, most of my peers are trying to explore life on their own and make their own way. I don’t think they’re any different than any other generation, it’s just that it’s easier and more alluring to do so now when there has been so much innovation and change in such a short period of time.

    With that said, I agree with the preacher that there is nothing new under the sun, and by skipping out on that community and mentorship, we’re missing out on opportunities to learn the easy way instead of banging our head against the wall.

    • says

      Brett,

      Do you think the opportunities for community and mentorship/discipling are obvious enough or even available for the most part? Every church will be different but one big problem today is that churches have tied so much of their resources into maintaining what happens 1 hour on Sunday that they don’t have many resources, focus or will to be intentional in providing obvious inroads to meaningful community and mentorship. It is going to take leadership (those in their 40s+) to make the path through all of this very clear to young people for it to happen well in churches as they exist today.

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