Scripture: Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. (1 Tim 4:12)
Observation: The apostle Paul (well into his 60s in age) is writing to his young protege Timothy – a young adult. Paul is away from the church and is advising young Timothy, who is leading in Paul’s absence. Age and experience were highly valued in the ancient world as necessary for attaining wisdom. Though Timothy was likely getting push-back from some of the people due to his inexperience as a leader, Paul encouraged him to ignore the critics and simply lead by example.
Application: We live in a world that assigns great value to youth – at least youthful appearance. People spend billions each year trying to look younger as they age. That said, we still like our leaders to have adequate experience. When things get difficult, we generally don’t want a rookie in charge. We prefer someone who has been around the block a few times.
But sometimes young people are required to lead.
Some of you reading this blog find yourselves in that place now. Like it or not, people are looking to you for leadership. Maybe you didn’t expect this. Maybe you feel unqualified. If you’re honest, you might admit you have no idea what you’re doing. Does any of that matter? No. It’s your time, so get to it. Today’s verse can be helpful in this regard. Two things from the verse:
- “Let no one despise your youth” Translation? Haters gonna hate. There will be people who second-guess you because of your youth. Be respectful, but ignore them. You can’t control what other people think about you. Solicit wisdom from others. Listen to their counsel. But in the end do what you believe is best. That’s what leaders do.
- “set the believers an example…” Whatever you do, BE what it is you’d like to see in others. Others may not be sure about your lack of experience, but they will follow when they see in you a life worth imitating.
Prayer: Lord Jesus today we lift up young leaders. Give them grace to live into the calling you’ve given them, whether they’re ready for it or not. And give those of us who are older the grace to support and encourage young leaders as much as possible. We ask this in your holy name. Amen.