A Millennial Pastor’s Guide to Sharpening and Counsel
Updated: Oct 1, 2019
-introduction written by Pastor DJ Harry, article written by Pastor Stephen Russ
Where do you seek your counsel? From your peers? From your elders? While we can be sharpened by our peers, the best counsel always comes from those that have walked down the path of life and have served their Lord well!
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to interview Pastor Stephen Russ of Boeke Road Baptist Church. During that conversation (which you can listen to below) I became aware of an incredible and insightful article that Pastor Russ wrote a few years ago. His premise is simple – we can be sharpened by our peers but we need to seek Godly counsel from our elders. I hope this article will be a help and encouragement to your ministry!
A Millennial Pastor’s Guide to Sharpening and Counsel -Pastor Stephen Russ
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Proverbs 27:17 – “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” When I read this verse, I’m immediately reminded of the wonderful Christian friendships God has blessed me with. It seems God has given me a wonderful group of friends who have a strong desire to serve God and reach people with the Gospel. I enjoy being associated with these men.
Friendship is vital to me, and it is vital to my generation. My generation, the millennial generation, loves sharpening. We welcome discussion, we encourage debate, and we thrive on opposing view points. We seek the opportunity to collaborate, and enjoy the process of team work with other like-minded millennials. I view this as positive, not negative.
When I am around my peers, I am sharpened. I am challenged. My friends push me to be a better Christian, father, husband, and pastor.
In a similar area, I also find myself seeking counsel from a wonderful group of men whom I consider to be my mentors in the ministry. Here, too, I am blessed beyond measure. I have a number of older men (as in older than me by 20 years) in my life I could call and they would answer. I have men in my church I take to lunch often and seek their counsel in areas where I do not feel fully developed as a leader.
Another verse I think of and read often is Proverbs 20:5 – “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.” While relationships seem to be the great desire of my generation, I fear we do not differentiate appropriately between sharpening and receiving instruction. I strive to approach the two differently.
We are sharpened by our peers but should be counseled by our elders. -Pastor Stephen Russ
Don’t get me wrong, the counsel I receive from older men who have “been where I am” sharpens me immensely! The instruction of older men, however, is to be received in a different way than the sharpening we receive from our peers.
Proverbs 1:3 – “To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity.” Proverbs 19:20 – “Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.” Proverbs 1:7b – “…fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 10:17 – “He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.”
The word “receive” means “to seize; to take in the hand and carry along.” I recently sat down with a seasoned pastor, one who has been a mentor to me for over 10 years. My role in this conversation was to ask questions and to listen. I did not debate him, nor did I contradict him in any way. Actually, there have been a small number of times I have not felt his counsel was what God would have to me to follow. In those times, I never–ever–spoke about that or debated him on it.
If you cannot engage in respectful dialogue with an elder, DON’T! Pastor Stephen Russ
My wife says I’m too loud. When I get around my friends, I get louder. We like to argue our points to one another, all with a good spirit of course. Sometimes we get passionate in our tone! Sometimes we profusely disagree. Often we walk away better friends than we were before.
…But when we communicate with one who is older, wiser and more experienced that we are, I believe there is a spirit of submission and respect that is warranted.
I derive this philosophy from God’s Word. To me, this verse says it all – “Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren.” (I Timothy 5:1)
You may not like the position (or the disposition) another man has, but I would challenge you to prepare your response differently based on this litmus test found in I Timothy 5:1. Perhaps the response is to formulate a respectful question, or perhaps the answer is to not answer at all.
This is just something I’ve learned – If you insist on arguing with older, more experienced men in ministry, you won’t ever be able to learn from them. You won’t have their ear or their respect, and you may miss an opportunity to hear a valuable truth from them that may just be why God brought them into your life in the first place. As millennials, may we recognize the differences between “sharpening” and “counsel,” and may we vary our responses graciously and appropriately.
(This article was first written and published online through an independent blog. When that website shut down the contents were no longer available. I appreciate Stephen for allowing me to publish the contents of this article so it can be a blessing to pastors around the world! -Pastor DJ Harry)
Pastor DJ Harry www.djharry.org