One of the other blogs I read had a letter from a twenty-something who had gone to bible school and wanted to become a youth pastor. However, in 5 years, he had been passed over for every position he applied to. He said he was beginning to doubt the call, since the right doors had not opened. The comments had much wonderful advice. Some said he needed to go to seminary, others that he should continue to work and serve at the same time. One even said if necessary, he should scrub toilets to get his foot in the door. Others observed that he might be of more value outside of the church, where he might start some ministry of his own. One suggested he gather a group of advisors who could help him confirm whether this was truly the direction he should pursue.
I thought of my own youth leaders who, years ago, discipled me thoroughly and lovingly. They also felt a calling to ministry of some sort and were counseled to go to the largest church nearby in their denomination and volunteer to help. As it happened, each month after that, someone above them was transferred out of town and they were promoted. Within six months, they were in charge of the whole thing. Had they gone straight for the top position before, they would have found only closed doors. So, I certainly concur with those who advise this young man to simply begin ministering in whatever way he can.
However, I think there may be more to the story, spiritually. It seems as though those in their twenties are uniquely subject to attack. This was certainly my experience and that of many of my friends. Not only are you, at this point in life, struggling to figure out what vocation to pursue and often beginning a family of your own. It seems to be a uniquely vulnerable period. It may be that you had insufficient instruction in spiritual warfare. I’m sure every youth group at one time or another looks at the full armor of God. But as a practical matter, doing some rah-rah presentation of how the Roman soldiers wore their armor and how it corresponds to the armor of God, may not lead directly to the ability to apply it in the spiritual realm.
For instance, how do you determine when you are under attack in the first place? In any given situation, there are natural causes at work as well as spiritual things happening that are unseen. Because the spiritual part is unseen, it is easier to just focus on the natural. Therefore, in the example above, we mostly give advice along the lines of hey, just do something and leave the results up to God. I would be the first to admit, that in the effort to do something, you will probably get valuable experience that may be a positive influence the next time you apply for a position. It may well be that lack of experience is the main problem here.
However, there could be something else going on entirely. Who is your enemy, and what is his motivation? That’s right, he hates you passionately and he will do whatever is in his power to prevent you from becoming who God has called you to be. That’s very often why at twenty-something, you will be told that there is something wrong with your faith, or the like. The damage from that sort of attack can last a very long time and require the assistance of those who know about healing prayer and deliverance to get you back on the path the Lord has for you. In my own case, I was well into my forties before I learned that.
So, to my twenty-something friends, I say pray for discernment. Gather others around you who will pray over you, particularly when it comes to things like your calling. Don’t underestimate the value of a simple expectant prayer that God will show you the truth of your situation. After all, the belt of truth is the first part of our armor. I find that when I pray for God to show me the truth of a situation, I will either be led to a memory pointing to something that needs healing, or my perspective will shift so I see it differently. Only God can do that.