This part of the first letter to Timothy includes some of my favorite passages. Paul spends most of the time in these two chapters giving encouragement and instruction to Timothy and church leaders on how to pastor the churches. He talks about dealing with conflict, caring for widows and other pastoral care issues. There is also great counsel to Timothy and others on issues of what they eat and drink and basic godly living topics.
But my favorite verse in these two chapters is found in 1 Timothy 4:12.
“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
This verse has meant a lot to me over the decades. It was special to me when I was a teenager and has been a key verse I’ve leaned on as a student pastor. I have pointed hundreds of teenagers to this verse countless times. It’s important that we not assume that the young need to wait to do ministry when they are grown. Children and teenagers are not the future of the church. They are just as much the church now as they will be then. Every believer (young and old) can make a difference for the Kingdom. Even today we have teenagers from our church sharing the Gospel of Jesus in Honduras. What Paul is saying in this verse is encouraging to young people. He’s telling them the best way to be respected and not looked down on for being young – is to set the example. Don’t act foolish. Live in such a way that you set the standard. Live by the standard of Jesus in the way you speak, live, love and also in your faith and purity.
There is no minimum age for service in the Kingdom of God. There is no bar set for when you can begin making disciples. The standard we follow is that set by Jesus. Go, make disciples. Live a life worthy of the Lord and lead others toward Jesus by your example and by your words. Go serve well today.