(Photo: Joshua Daniels)
Joshua Daniels' young age of 19 could have held him back from becoming the pastor at an established church, but this Sunday he will be installed as the new pastor of the 69-year-old Rising Sun Baptist Church in Beaumont, Texas.
At 19-years-old, married and with a child on the way, Daniels has much more life experience than most men his age. He will be installed as the third pastor in the church's history despite not meeting the prerequisite of being at least 25-years-old, having a master's degree and experience in leading a congregation. He has, however, preached throughout national churches and revivals.
"I believe the exemptions came simply as an act of God's divine favor. I sincerely believe that God has a hand in calling pastors to churches, and in His sovereign will He places who He wants, where He wants," said Daniels, to The Christian Post on Friday. "I believe God allowed the rules to be broken, because He has a plan and purpose for me at Rising Sun, and I believe He's already beginning to make that evident."
Daniels' preached his first sermon on Dec. 31, 1999, at 6-years-old at a church in Houston, and says that preaching was his answer to God's call.
"I've been preaching and working in ministry now for the last 13 years. Pretty much my entire life has been lived behind a pulpit or around a church, and so I believe that my years of ministry work have helped prepare me. I knew pastoral ministry was my calling because it is my passion. I don't pastor to live, but rather I live to pastor. It's what I was born to do, and what I find the greatest joy in doing!" said Daniels.
Over the years, his preparation into ministry has been a journey that he attributes to his mentor Dr. John Adolph, pastor of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Beaumont.
"Dr. Adolph, or Pop as I call him, has been instrumental in every area of my life. He's made so many investments into my ministry and into me personally as a man that I could never repay him for," said Daniels.
Now that he has laid the groundwork for his ministry, Daniels told CP he does not hold reservations about taking to the pulpit at Sun Rise, and as a 19-year-old, he says that he will bring a new perspective into his church.
"The church has received me well thus far. Of course, following a predecessor who served close to half a century is not and will not be easy. I'm a pastor from the iPod generation following one from the 8-track generation. And of course the method is different, but the music is still the same. So although my predecessors and I will have different styles of leadership, I believe as long as the substance remains the same, there's no transitional tension we won't be able to overcome," said Daniels.
Although his confidence in taking on his new position is strong, he does admit he has similar concerns as any young adult entering a prominent role.
"At 19 years old, there is still a part of me that wants to be liked and accepted, and in this vocation, that won't always happen. However, through prayer I know I'll persevere through all persecution," said Daniels. "I believe some may have a problem with my age, but those will simply be people I'm not called to lead. Those who God wants me to shepherd and lead, won't have a problem with my age, they'll just be concerned about the anointing."
As for his vision for Sun Rise, Daniels has not even preached his first sermon as a pastor yet but he has already taken on a visionary mindset for the church's future.
"My vision for Rising Sun is simply for us to be a growing church for growing people, where we take people from where they are to where God wants them to be. My vision too is to build a body of believers who are spiritually mature, biblically astute, and passionate about evangelism and outreach. Of course, I plan to build other buildings that will be utilized for youth and the community as well as another sanctuary, but above building buildings, I want to build people!" said Daniels.
With a new perspective in tow and armed with years of preparation, Daniels admits leading a congregation will not be an easy feat but he plans to enter his position head on.
"A seasoned pastor told me recently, 'You're never prepared to pastor, it's like swimming, and you've got to jump in to figure out how to do it!' so I'm jumping in," he concluded.