BY WENDY CALDERON
SHOUT: What are the key issues facing the Hispanic church?
MIRANDA: Leadership! As leadership developers, we need to be more concerned about building character in our leaders; and leaders need to be more concerned about being men and women of character. Holistic leaders. Pastors who are relational, but who also have the technical skills necessary to lead the church into the 21st century. Formal education is key here. Rervant Leadership vs. Authoritative Leadership is also a must. Creativity will enhance relevance and round out the leader. More collaboration. We must build God’s Kingdom, not merely our own. Believing more in ourselves. We are made in His image and empowered by His Spirit; what more do we need? Elevate the view of youth ministry. 1) We must elevate youth. Look at the need! 2) Budget money and open the facilities for our youth. We must be willing to pay the price. 3) Provide good leadership. Good people of character first, then the program.
SHOUT: How long have you been in ministry?
MIRANDA: 40 years
SHOUT: What have been the keys to longevity?
MIRANDA: A little stubbornness, flexibility, and focus. I always knew what I wanted to do.
SHOUT: What counsel would you give to young leaders to encourage them to finish well?
MIRANDA: To know themselves, their personality. Who has God made them to be? One’s personality should complement one’s calling, heart’s desires, and spiritual gifting. The other thing is to appreciate their own uniqueness. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Also, never be satisfied with status quo, but always reach for more. Continue to stretch yourself, not compulsively, but “excel still more.”
SHOUT: Did you always have someone motivating you towards excellence or were you more internally motivated?
MIRANDA: Both! My parents motivated me. My mother was a great role model. She was very generous and loving. My father gave me a great work ethic. I expressed that in sports and in work as I was growing up. Additionally, my pastors early in my Christian life were very dedicated and focused ministers. They never made me feel like they were there because there was nothing else to do. They were sold out to ministry! So when I sensed a call to ministry, their example, passion, and persons were instrumental, influential and confirming.
SHOUT: Your parents and pastors have been your mentors. Was it something they just did by example or was it intentional?
MIRANDA: I think it was both non- directive and directive. Non- directive, because they always lived the life. My father would correct me when I was a teenager by saying, “When have you seen me do that?” then the answer was, “Then why should you do that?” So it was by example. But, it was also very directive, with one of my pastors at a very critical time in my life when I was 16. I lost my starting position as the first string quarterback of the high school football team. I was deeply hurt and walked off the field when the coach told me, and walked to church looking for my mother. There was a revival service going on and my mother was in the front row, so I wasn’t about to go up there, but I waited in the back until I could go and talk to her. Meanwhile I heard the gospel. I grew up at church, but this football crisis opened me up to a new sensitivity I had never had before. Just before the pastor gave an alter call, my friends from the team came in, because they wondered where I had gone. After the altar call, I stood up and said, ” I don’t know about you guys, but I am going forward to give my life to Christ.” Four of them followed, and two gave their life to Christ. So that’s the start of my serious walk with the Lord. Next, the pastor encouraged me to study, so I went to Bible school. The pastor said the church would help pay for part of my schooling. When I came back from school the pastor said you have learned so now put it into practice. He helped me to do evangelism on the street that summer. My first year I did evangelism and the second year I planted a church in the Barrio. I was 17 1/2 years old at that time. The pastor rented a place, gave me the supplies and his blessing and sent me out. He took a hands-on, pro-active approach to developing me. After the following year of bible school when I was 18-1/2, the pastor let me preach the morning services because he said I was more of teacher and he was more of an evangelist, so he would speak in the evening services. He had confidence in me that later gave me confidence in myself. That was a very critical time in my life; that pastor helped me greatly.
SHOUT: Your pastor had confidence in you, and although he may not have had the title “youth pastor”, he did the work of a youth pastor.
MIRANDA: I think he had what every pastor should have. He was able to equip the saints! How better to equip them than when they’re young and responsive, so willing to serve. I think equipping is constructive. A lot of what we call equipping the saints is actually re-constructive. I wish more pastors were willing to build young leaders by affirming and involving them in significant ministry.
SHOUT: How would you exhort youth workers to be more intentional about developing young people?
MIRANDA: Look out for the gifts that young people have, have an extra ear, have an extra eye to see their potential. Pray for that everyday, “Lord help me to see what you see in this young person. Additionally, I think we need to be more serious about leadership development. Youth leaders are key to finding, equipping, and involving our young leaders. We must USE THEM OR LOSE THEM.
Dr. Jesse Miranda is associate dean of Urban and Multi-cultural Affairs at Azusa Pacific University. In addition to teaching theology in the C.P. Haggard School of Theology, he is a Promise Keepers’ board member and speaker as well as the President of the organization, A.M.E.N (Alianza de Ministerios Evangelicos Nacionales).