At the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics I was an Entertainment team leader. It was great! I spent two months on the Olympic Park in my fluorescent purple uniform, radio in hand organising everything from marching bands to three Mexican Mariachis.
I found myself in a position of leadership which traditionally society would have said I was too young for. I was 19, managing a team of fifteen volunteers many of whom were double and occasionally even triple my age. To be honest at first it was daunting, giving advice and direction to people who certainly had more life experience, but I knew I could either let this fear of not being worthy cripple my ability or I could just go for it and give it my best shot, which prompted by the culture saw me thrive.
I want us to challenge the myth that we can only do great things once we’re a certain age and to promote a culture of ‘emerging leaders’ not simply being a group who have the potential to one day achieve something awesome for the Kingdom, but challenging this group of young adults to realise they are also called to achieve right where they are today. All throughout society we’re taught that we need to wait before we can truly do something great, in primary school we’re asked ‘What would you like to be when you grow up?’, throughout school with the careers officer telling you to improve your CV and in the workplace requiring ticks in certain boxes before that promotion.
I want us to be careful here as we can easily mistake what I’m taking about for a reckless arrogance, placing no importance on being qualified and disregarding the incredible wisdom of those who have gone before us, all of which can be detrimental to any ministry. What I’m talking about is smashing the myth that to do something incredible for the Kingdom you have to be a certain age and have had a level of training and/or experience. It’s not about what you’ve done or the number of things that qualify you for that position but your authentic attitude and who it points towards, Jesus.
This culture wasn’t just something that was modelled at the Olympic Park but one which is displayed all throughout the Bible. From Esther’s courage saving her people and Joseph trusting God through betrayal to David defeating Goliath and ‘a little boy’ in John 6:8–11 (MSG) who gave all he had resulting in 5,000 others being fed. The Bible is full of young leaders taking up the cultural mandate of shaping their surroundings and not letting their age be a barrier to advancing the kingdom.
Whatever your context, what would it look like if you just saw age as a number, not something that qualifies you for a certain part of ministry. What would you be doing? And through you modelling this who might you inspire to not hold back and be on fire for the kingdom, today?
At Alpha we’re excited to see the next generation not simply equipped to tell their friends about Jesus but passionate and excited to do it today. Much like the experience of being on the Olympic Park this can be done through shaping the culture, pairing drive and wisdom so that though collaboration, mentoring and community more can be done today than when one generation sits in the waiting room.
I want to challenge you to be and do what God expects you to be and do, even if no one else expects it from you. Don’t just ask, what do you want to be when you’re older? Ask what can you be and do right now in the specific space you’ve been placed in.
Luke Hamilton works for Alpha UK heading up Youth Development and is also the Children & Youth Pastor at St. Sepulchres. He’s passionate about youth realising and meeting their potential and emerging leaders being both resourced and equipped. He enjoys a good mango, loves cooking and tells far too many cheese related jokes.