A Call to the One Discipleship

A Call to the One: Investing in the Next Generation


Honest confession: I was reluctant to say “Yes” to the call of God. I remember the moment so clearly, kneeling in the back prayer room at Lakeshore Camp in Cobourg, Ont. In that time of prayer, an inner sense came to me so clearly—God was calling me into full-time ministry. My immediate response was not joy or excitement but fear and dread. I questioned the Lord, not doubting what I had sensed but wondering if I was the right person. “But God, I don’t even know if I like church people,” was my initial response.

A few years earlier, my family had walked through a challenging experience at a church where my parents were pastors. I was a young teenager, confused by the actions and words of a few disgruntled congregants. As a result, I walked away from my relationship with the Lord. Now, kneeling at Lakeshore Camp, my relationship with Jesus had been restored but my trust in the body of Christ had been broken. How does a young person say “Yes” to serving the place and people that deeply wounded them? My eventual “Yes” took time—years, really—as, step by step, I followed the Lord’s direction and was mentored by leaders who saw my potential. It was the church that played a part in my brokenness, but it was also the church that was my place of healing and my greatest encouragement to follow the call of God.

As pastors and preachers, we often exhort young people with the verse where Paul says to his protege, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). It’s a high and worthy command to give to a young leader with potential, a call to rise to the occasion, to step up and forward into the specific calling for their life. I love that we honour this verse and use it so frequently to challenge young people into spiritual maturity. The aspect I think we sometimes downplay is the unique relationship Paul and Timothy had, which allowed this young leader to not just hear the words of his pastor and mentor but to see them lived out as an example in daily life.

While Paul oversaw multiple churches and was a pastor to many, he mentored Timothy. He saw leadership potential in a young man from the local church and invested in him. The difference in young Timothy’s life is too great to measure. He was encouraged and taught not just by a leader on a stage but by a mentor willing to personally walk with him, form an up-close relationship, see his giftings and abilities and speak into his future.

I have been incredibly blessed in my leadership journey to have several individuals who were like Paul to me and chose to invest sacrificially in my life. There was an older woman in the church who I affectionally called my adopted grandma. She loved me in such a way that I felt seen, valued and important. A youth leader who saw beyond my brokenness invested hours listening to me and speaking words of encouragement. She consistently put me in ministry roles that were greatly beyond my ability level, coaching me along the way. The campus pastors of my Bible college constantly asked me to do things I did not want to do, pulling me out of my hesitancy, helping me to break my sense of intimidation, placing me on stage, and trusting me with difficult conversations.

These individuals and so many others helped me to understand that the call of God is not just an initial “Yes” in a moment of prayer, but a continual “Yes” to the specific purposes God has for you along the way. They sat with me in my insecurity, listened to my questions, believed in me when I doubted, and were the consistent echo of the Apostle Paul’s voice in my life. Just as Timothy grew to be a leader in the church because of the influence of his mentor, I am where I am today because of individuals who saw me and chose to invest in the next generation.

As I approach 20 years of full-time ministry, I look back with such gratitude for the “Pauls” in my life. And it causes me to look and notice those around me who are full of the potential of the call of God on their lives. Am I willing to be a “Paul” for them? Will I invest in their lives, give my time and encouragement and open doors of opportunity? Will I help them step into the difficult and uncomfortable, into what is good and right so they can say their own “Yes” to the purposes of God for them?

The call of God has not stopped. The voice of God is still speaking. I believe our churches are ripe with young men and women who are being called to serve God in their generation. But if we are going to challenge them to “set an example for the believers” (1 Timothy 4:12), the example first starts with us. There’s a mandate on us, those in the church congregation and in leadership, to see the call of God in others and invest in their lives, ensuring they feel seen and valued in the body of Christ. There’s an opportunity for us to be like Paul, mentoring young Timothys so they feel equipped and encouraged to follow the voice of God. May we set an example, paving the way for a generation that will say “Yes.”

Tricia Gibb Lane and her husband, Dave, live in Sarnia, Ont., where she serves at Bethel Pentecostal Church as an assistant pastor. This article appeared in the April/May/June 2024 issue of testimony/Enrich, a quarterly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. © 2024 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Photo © istockphoto.com.

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