Dear Young Preacher

by Robert Earl Houston

Houston08282013This has been brewing in my spirit all day. I want to offer some advice to young preachers – I mean those who are teenagers/early 20s – who have been called to the ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and commissioned to carry this glorious gospel into all the world with power.

Enjoy being young.

I was a “boy preacher” at 17 years of age, who received a call from the Lord during my senior year at Thomas Jefferson High School in Portland, Oregon and the late Dr. Arthur Bernard Devers, I, was my pastor at that time. I missed out on some social interactions because “I’s a preacher now” that at the age of 53 I regret.

I also dismissed out of hand some experiences, celebrations (i.e. my senior prom) and other activities because I was a minister. I felt that I should be “the preacher” all of the time and I actually lost the opportunity to be a Christian witness at some functions because I was not there.

Don’t rush age.

Listen, age will catch up to you. You don’t have to pretend and personify a “preacher’s vocabulary” at 16. There’s plenty of time to answer the phone, “Praise the Lord” or even have a voicemail that says “You’ve reached Minister XYZ, the associate minister of the ABC Church located at (address). I’m busy serving an awesome God, please leave your name, message, and this ministry will return your call at our convenience,” when the truth of the matter is that you’re in Algebra class, where you usually are around 11 a.m. in the morning on a Tuesday.

While you’re young – enjoy life. I’m not saying don’t be committed to your Pastor and Church, because you should be, that’s granted. However, while you’re young – enjoy life. Travel. Broaden your mind. Broaden your experiences. Take your time in life. Read – not just the Bible, but books that will stimulate and challenge your thought processes.

Don’t make the mistake of other preachers who were called as a kid, got married (because you thought you had to in order to get a church) at 18, divorced at 19, drunk or high at 20, and then quit the ministry at 21.

Take a moment to start and develop a hobby while building a resume;
Take a moment to take in a movie while studying Pastoral Theology;
Learn how to talk english and learn slang too while learning Greek and Hebrew;
Learn how to say the words that may save you in the future – “no” and “not today” and learn how to inhale and exhale – it will save you stress in the future.

One of the worst things I did as a “boy preacher” was becoming Minister Robt. E. Houston (I learned to abbreviate Robert to Robt. from two people – my English/Journalism Teacher, Ruthann Hartley-Harris and Dr. Robt. H. “Bob” Wilson, Sr. of Dallas, Texas) before I learned who Robert Earl Houston was.

I worry about a generation of young preachers who call each other “Doc” and “Bishop” and “Apostles” and don’t know the difference between preaching and performance. Do you know what Jesus called Peter?  He called him Peter.

Young preacher you don’t need armor bearers, ministry logo, a briefcase (and yes, I had one), scheduling service, business cards, websites, product, and all of the entrapments of ministry. How about becoming a great Christian and human being first? As one preacher of old once said, never build a skyscraper on a chicken coop.

Remember this – one day you’ll grow up and you’ll look back and see pictures of you in the pulpit, but where will be the pictures of you in the pool, playing pool, singing with your friends, eating a meal, wearing silly hats, and vacation venues or explorations or bike rides or just a photo of you smiling?


19 responses

  1. Gerry K. Hearn | Reply

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Great post pastor

    Bishop Andy C. Lewter, D. Min.

    On Tue Mar 04 19:41:45 CST 2014, THE WIRE

  3. Thanks for this. Even though I am just entering ministry at nearly 40 I can relate to this. People were trying to get me in the pulpit way before I was ready. I watched other young ministries hurting themselves and their ministries by trying to take on more than they could handle because they were playing preacher. I probably would have done the same thing but by God’s grace I was stubborn and gifted at saying “no”. Now that I am saying yes at a time that seems out of season I sometimes wonder if i should have said yes sooner. But after reading your message I am reminded that kairos time not chronos time is the clock I’m trying to align with.

  4. Lawrence Ragland | Reply

    Pastor Houston
    This is really good advice for young preachers. How about the gator shoes and tailor suits. I see young pimps wanna be Rev. Dr. Bishop….I just shake my head and say what a waste. They have some good talent but using it for the wrong things. Hat off to you my friend keep giving good advice. Maybe we can save some.
    Pastor Lawrence Ragland

  5. Darius V Evans | Reply

    Pastor Houston

    Brother every young minister/preacher really need this.

  6. Rev. Melvin Wilson | Reply

    Excellent words of wisdom. I’m sharing it with preachers of ALL ages! God bless.

  7. Dennis A. Haggray | Reply

    Great letter

  8. Absolutely great! I see it in young preachers everyday!

  9. Excellent!!

  10. Oh My!!! Great Wisdom! Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” I was told that it would be a going to the prom would be a sin. Living a saved land abundant life is more than going to church, singing in the choir, and doing church all the time. Going to the pool (with the proper swim attire) will not make you unholy. You do not wear denim jeans skirts to the beach and in the pool. You do not have a walk-a-thon wearing a prayer chapel caps. No, No, No. Going to a movie will not make you unholy, playing sports will not make you unholy. There are churches who think that all of this is unholy living, but yet they are evil and judgmental (now that’s unholy), won’t fellowship with anyone if they don’t dress a certain way, if you wear jewelry, or go to their denomination’s church. Not only youth pastor/ministers should heed to this dynamic message, but some of the older saints who are still living in bondage should also. Live life the way God intended, ABUNDANTLY! I’m just saying.

    THANK YOU Pastor Houston!

  11. Shalmon Radford | Reply

    Well said Houston. I’ve been in it for 22 years. I’m grateful for a mother who was stern enough to say no, but motherly enough to say yes and let me be a kid. “What did Jesus call Peter? Pete” . Love this post sir!

  12. Thank you so much for this post because I have a 14 year old minister who I try to teach to enjoy life and youthfulness while he can. This sounds great coming from someone who has traveled the path he’s taking. God bless and continue to share this testimony!

  13. A great and timely word! Please Young Preachers… HEAR YE HIM!!

  14. Rev. Larry Jennings | Reply

    Thank You for sharing this timely piece of Godly Wisdom..I needed it….

  15. I really enjoyed this post. As you know a good message makes a preacher want to preach, so I apologize on the front end if this long reply offends.

    I’m a minister who will be 30 this year. I’ve been serving in the office of minister for 3 years. I’ve seen some of the pitfalls you describe, I bless the Lord you went through, so you could warn others. I think your entire post can be summed up in six questions that Christians in general aren’t taught to ask anymore by whatever the “popular” flavor of the gospel their flesh enjoys.

    1.) What does God want me to do?
    Every believer of Christ has a general commission. However, Paul insists that all believers are part of the body of Christ. Just as each member has a specific task, each believing and sanctified soul in the body has a very specific purpose. Everybody isn’t an minister. Every minister isn’t laboring from the pulpit. Jesus did use farm labor as an example to look to. Everybody on a farm doesn’t sow seed. Some water. Some tend to whatever is used to break the ground. etc. Too many people KNOW of their own mind/will what their place is.

    2.) When does He want me to do it?
    If Samuel anointed David king on a Monday. David wasn’t wearing the crown Tuesday.

    3.) Where?
    Jonah knew he was supposed to preach…didn’t like the locale though.

    4.) With who?
    There are very few servants of God do the Lord’s work alone. Even before sin was introduced to the world it still wasn’t good that a human being should be alone. How much more do we in a fallen state need companionship/some who will hold us accountable

    5.) How does He want this task performed?
    Moses wanted to deliver Israel through military strategy(found in Acts)…Then he wanted Aaron to help(didn’t turn out well when Moses left.)

    6.) Does God deem me sufficiently prepared for this right now?
    Yes, Jesus called His Apostles to follow Him that day. Notice they were trained for 3+ years before The Spirit descended upon them, so they might have the power to establish the church. If we believe we are in the army of the Lord, why do so few of us go to boot camp? God called some men to be surgeons…go to get that bachelors in science before you even APPLY for med school. Seek and respect the process the Lord has set before you to grow.

    I’m done. May Christ continue to pour wisdom in and through you brother.

  16. Howard Castlin | Reply

    WOW what great words of instruction and advice. we have so many great young preachers that have fallen off because they forgot about being young. God knows age will catch up. great words to live by

  17. Thank you so much. This post will give some of us that are new to ministry some stress relief. It is good to know that participating in activities outside the church is good for the soul. As long as it does not grieve the Holy Spirit or brings any negative result to the Body of Christ or your Church. Enjoy life do things, meet people, tell about the goodness of the Lord.

  18. Rev. Keith Gardner | Reply

    Thank you Pastor Houston for your great nuggets of wisdom. I also was a young preacher as you described. However, there are many ways of looking at the issue. Yes, I think you ought to learn how to enjoy life. For this generation of young preachers(30 yrs. old and below)we need to be clear on what enjoying life means. I have been in ministry for over 30 yrs.(32 yrs. exactly) and I have seen and been through a lot. At the time that I came into ministry, going to the prom was okay and encouraged but carefully looked at and sometimes depending upon the self-righteous, was criticized. “Your suppose to be preacher.” I agree enjoy life while your young but exercise wisdom in doing so. Prom okay. Night club questionable??? Comedy club with light meal okay. Strip club off limits. Just thoughts. Be encourage preachers and Preach Jesus!!

  19. Robert Simpson | Reply

    Pastor Simpson, SC. Great advice Rev. Didn’t know you where at that of AGE!!! LOL

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by Pastor Robert Earl Houston

H.B. Charles Jr.

About life, preaching, church, books, and other stuff.

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