When I was asked to write on this subject, I was actually pretty excited seeing as this is something I’ve given a lot of thought to recently. My church has very few youth and fewer still young adults. The people my age have both the privilege and the responsibility of representing the youth in our church. There are those of us who sort of blend in with the crowd and act like normal teenagers. But there are also those of us who have an active role in our church, be it through the Friday night youth ministry, the Sunday morning Sunday school or other outreach opportunities provided by many people outside of our church. The difference between these two drastically different social groups is only our spiritual maturity. Being a missionary kid, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to visit many different churches, and I can assure you that those brave few who have taken 1 Timothy 4:12 to heart have only done so through personal conviction. The verse reads: “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity,” and those who follow it receive the incredible privilege of serving God.
Basically, what I’m trying to tell you here is that you don’t have to be the pastor’s kid to be a godly man or woman. Yes, that’s right. Man, woman, we can cast off the foolish and childish things and seek the creator of our universe. God loves everyone and challenges all to follow him. Whether you’re from the solitude of some unknown village or from the privilege of a wealthy family, you can serve God and be an example to those young and old around you. However, keep in mind that if you decide to be an example to the believers, you must do so with humility. No one wants to follow a haughty, self-righteous individual. If you want to lead, you must be a good leader. God has often chosen strange people to do his will. David was just a boy when he was chosen; yet he, nonetheless, showed Saul, who was a grown man, well-learned in the law, how a God-fearing person should behave.
I am telling you these things because I know that, if we follow God’s will for us, we can lead the younger generation to do the same. And we can earn for ourselves the respect of the experienced generation. The world teaches us that this is the age to rebel. The world teaches everyone to ignore the teenagers because they’re dependent members of society. We need to make the change! Walk outside and do something for someone, even though they expect absolutely nothing from you. A hundred years ago people our age were considered adults. They functioned and served as full-fledged members of society. They knew what was expected of them, and they rose to those expectations. We are capable of being adult-like people! We are at the age where we need to start teaching that which we’ve learnt to those who will teach it next.
Another interesting fact I can see in this verse is that it says not to let people despise your youth. It doesn’t say: “don’t despise the youth of the young,” it says, “Let no man despise thy youth.” This means that the task is for us. Leave nothing to be despised. Don’t be an immature vagrant that earns for us this widely accepted label. Be the man or woman God wants you to be and no one can despise you, except perhaps out of jealousy. We need to be that which the world cannot imagine us being: God’s people. Imagine what it must be like for them to see us leading, serving, and changing our churches for the better. They would look at us and know that this isn’t something that can be seen in anyone but God’s people. We can lead all sorts of people to our churches. We’ll lead those older than us by impressing them. We’ll lead those our age by showing them what they could be a part of. We can lead sinners to God and he’ll change them to fellow soldiers, fighting alongside us to win more souls for our Father.
~ Brandon Hawkins, Guest Author for The Heart of Teens