Speaking to the Soul – July 10

Young Leadership

There, in the town of Salamis, they went to the Jewish synagogues and preached the word of God. John Mark went with them as their assistant. Acts 13:5

This verse describes the start of the first missionary journey. It was an incredibly important moment for the Christian gospel and it started on the island of Cyprus. Saul (who suddenly became known as Paul) was happy to preach about Jesus anywhere, but it was his usual practice to start in the synagogue and work outwards from there. I find it fascinating that, on this most sensitive of missions, he and Barnabas took young John Mark with them.

John Mark is first introduced in the previous chapter. He was clearly well known to Paul and Barnabas, but it was a major initiative to take him on this strategically important missionary journey. You can think of many reasons why it might not be wise to take a young and inexperienced person on such a crucial mission. But they were convinced that his presence was important. It’s impossible to know exactly why they took him, but it is always wise to ensure that young people are being trained up for ministry. I once worked with a very gifted youth minister who was convinced that it was vital to give significant leadership responsibilities to young people by the age of 15 in order to help them to grow. I saw many young people grow into mature leaders by their late teens as a result.

I am grateful for those leadership teams on which I have served where there has been a conscious desire to ensure that there is at least one younger person in the group. I can think of some who looked very much out of their depth when they joined, but because they were trusted and encouraged they quickly grew into effective leaders. The example of Paul and Barnabas should give us the encouragement to do the same today. From a human point of view they were taking a risk, but they gladly took it for the good of the Church and how grateful we should be that they did so. The confidence that they placed in Mark might well have been the reason why he later became the author of Mark’s Gospel.

Does your church encourage younger people to take on leadership roles?

Lord God, help me to encourage young people to grow in the use of their gifts. Amen