“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”
1 Timothy 4:12
There seems to be a common theme among many churches and youth groups: young people can’t make a real difference.
Sure, we believe they can invite their friends to church, maybe go on a missions trip, serve on the worship team or help flip slides for the Sunday morning worship. We’re fine with young people cleaning the church building, greeting or mowing the church yard.
But when it comes to making a real difference, when it comes to leading their friends to Christ, or starting their own Bible study, or leading a group of their peers to drastically change the culture at their junior high, high school or college…that’s when we get a little hesitant.
Young people don’t know enough. They haven’t studied the Bible thoroughly, haven’t attended a good seminary. They don’t know the words to say, how to handle tough situations and we sure don’t want them representing our church if they do something wrong.
And so instead of equipping young people, instead of helping them reach their potential, instead of giving them a dream of truly making a difference…we play games, and have pizza parties, and try our hardest to teach them not to sin.
Because apparently following Christ is all about doing the right thing.
But Paul took a different approach with young people.
He told them to set the example.
Historians aren’t sure how old Timothy was when Paul penned these words to him. Some believe he might have been as young as 25. Others say he could have been as old as 40. What we do know, though, is that members of the church he was overseeing at the time thought he was too young, too inexperienced to be leading.
In Timothy’s culture, you weren’t considered learned enough to teach until you were at least 30 – the same age Jesus was when his ministry started. You had to go to be trained, disciple under an approved rabbi and have two rabbis accept and release you before you had the authority to speak on spiritual matters.
Timothy didn’t have that.
He wasn’t old enough. He was trained enough. He never went to seminary, didn’t have the life experience, and according to everyone but Paul, he was too young to lead them.
But making an impact for Christ, helping people grow deeper with Him, isn’t about how old you are or how experienced or how trained.
It’s something we’re all called to do.
Set the example. Be pure. Love unconditionally. Serve wholeheartedly. Share your story. Invite others into the story of Christ. Grow your faith.
And don’t worry how old, or young, you are.
Because God can still use you.
After all, He called twelve teenage and early twenties boys to follow Him, and they turned the world upside down.
And so, my brothers and sisters, as you journey through this thing called life, may you remember that you are never too young to make a difference for Christ. May you young people rise up in the gifts and potential God has given you. And my you set the example for other believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.