READING: Proverbs 1-2, 1 Corinthians 16
“No one should look down on him.”
1 Corinthians 16:11
As older believers, I’m not sure we recognize the privilege we have of introducing, loving, supporting, and challenging younger believers. We see them in our congregations, but too often our worlds don’t intersect much. Even in the church, they go one direction and we go another. Most of us don’t think much about how we might provoke them to fulfill their calling as Christian lay leaders or future pastors and missionaries.
The apostle Paul lived differently, of course. For example, he intentionally sought to bring young Timothy onto his team (Acts 16:1-3) and then allowed him to do ministry alongside him. In today’s reading, he sent word to the Corinthian church that Timothy was on his way there, and they were to receive him well: “When Timothy comes, see that he has nothing to fear from you, because he is doing the Lord’s work, just as I am. Therefore, no one should look down on him. Send him on his way in peace so he can come to me, for I am expecting him with the brothers” (1 Cor. 16:10-11). The Corinthians had not been an easy group of people for Paul to work with. They had been divided among themselves. They had been arguing about things like spiritual gifts, tolerating sin, and debating the resurrection – and it was to that group Paul sent his protégé.
Moreover, it appears that Timothy was timid (1 Tim. 4:12) and at times sickly (1 Tim. 5:23). Paul must have been concerned the Corinthians would mistreat Timothy, and the apostle would have none of that. The believers in Corinth were to receive Timothy as Paul’s partner in the ministry, receive him warmly as he did the Lord’s work, and then send him on his way with care and support. Via this letter, Paul saw his role as a liaison, a go-between who used his authority to pave the way for Timothy in Corinth.
That role is also one that we older believers still have today. We can love young leaders, walk beside them, encourage them, and rebuke them when necessary. In addition, we can help open doors so they can fulfill their God-given callings, whatever that may be. We get to urge them to step out even while we challenge our churches to receive them well, allow them to do ministry, and give them leadership positions for the future. We might even help set them up to do greater things than we’ve ever done—all to the glory of God.
- Pray for 2-3 young leaders in your church, asking God to use them well.
- Look around your church, and challenge one potential young leader to step out. Help him or her start that process.
PRAYER: “Father, thank You for all those who’ve supported me through the years. Help me to return that gift to others.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Proverbs 3-5, 2 Corinthians 1