Most People Change What They Want to be When They Grow Up

Andy Hale oversees CBF’s church start initiative. Along with our state/regional coordinators, he serves as the first line of contact for those interested in starting churches with the Fellowship. In addition to facilitating the church starts discernment processes, coaching, development, and consulting, Hale also serves as a resource to established churches and those exploring partnership opportunities.

Hale joined the CBF in 2014. He also serves as a CBF Church Starter of Mosaic Church in Clayton, North Carolina.

Serving in a plethora of ministry capacities, from overseas mission work to urban ministries, Andy’s heart is to coach people to expand their availability to serve with their giftedness and assets. He believes in creating a community of belonging for all people, no matter where they are on life’s journey. His desire is to help equip, edify, and empower God’s people to live and do the work of the Kingdom of God.

At Age 14, What Did You Want to Be When You Grew Up

There’s a lot going on in the brain of a 14-year old, from thoughts of “what in the world is happening to my body” to struggles of peer acceptance, and from navigating the halls of high school to figuring out self-identity. When you add in the dynamic of understanding your giftedness (whether that be musical, theatric, athletic, or gaming talent), the introduction of real first dates, and the beginning pressure of collegiate preparation, the age of 14 is not exactly the most settling age to abide in.

When you ask a 14 year old what they want to be when they grow up, you will find that many will change their vocational dream as often as the ever-adjusting shoe size of pubescent adolescent.

I therefore consider myself to be a weirdo. At the age of 14, when you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have told you, resolutely, “I’m going to be a minister.” That’s right, at the ripe age of 14, I felt God calling me to a lifetime of vocational ministry.

I did not choose ministry at the age of 14. What 14 year old wants to commit to a lifetime of low wages, under-appreciation, job uncertainty based on congregational temperament, and unpaid overtime on a daily basis? I felt called to this.

Opportunities and Nurturing Were Vital to My Formation

I made the mistake of telling my pastor that I sensed a call to ministry. He thought it was a brilliant idea to have me preach at that Wednesday’s Bible study. Talking about forcing you to walk over hot coals.

What I didn’t realize then was this would be the first of many people who affirmed my calling by giving me opportunities to grow into this calling. Preaching was first, and other opportunities came in the next few years, from leading small groups to learning music ministry, from overseas mission work to ministry start ups, and from itinerate speaking to being a camp counselor.

By the time I had reached the age of 20, I had been given the opportunity to serve in at least 20 different types of ministry settings. For each of the opportunities and the people behind the opportunities, I am forever grateful.

What they did was give me a diverse and unfathomable experience of the work of the Kingdom of God. For many of my generation who received a call, they were told that you have to figure out if you are going to be a pastor, music ministry, youth pastor, or missionary. But what I was shown was the endless opportunities to live into a call.

I am the person I am today because of these people and opportunities.

Create Opportunity for Discernment and Experience

Teenage years are formative ones. It’s a time when people begin to tackle the questions of who they are, what kind of people they want to be around, and what they want to be. It certainly sets a precedent for what is in store for the next half decade at least.

Therefore, it is essential that this be a time of great intentional development.

Parker Palmer of the Center for Courage and Renewal once said, “Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks—we will also find our path of authentic service in the world.”

So when you consider someone sensing a call to ministry, faith leaders must respond by creating a healthy space for discernment and experience.

In my current ministry, a six-year-old church start, we have not had a teenager come forward to declare a ministerial calling. But we are trying to create a culture of opportunity and awareness to support such a calling—like through intergenerational initiatives, such as missional projects, community development, volunteering in weekly activities and programs, and leading worship.

Churches don’t have to alter their leadership construct, in order to give students the opportunity to discover and experience a potential call to ministry (although it’s not a bad idea). It can be as simple as providing a space to listen to their hearts, discover their giftedness, and find opportunities now for experience.

Teenagers are not only the future of the church, they are part of the here and now church. So in the present, we must create opportunities for discernment and experience of a ministerial vocational call.