READING: Jeremiah 8-10, 1 Timothy 3:14-5:2
I was quite young when I started pastoring full-time. In fact, I was just over twenty years old, single, and still working on my undergraduate degree. Looking back, I still wonder why that small church in southwestern Ohio took a risk on me. They did, though, and they supported me through mistake after mistake after mistake. They tolerated my youthfulness as they helped me to grow.
I’m sure I was youthfully arrogant then, and I therefore ran often to this text Paul wrote to Timothy to support my calling: “Don’t let anyone despise your youth” (1 Tim 4:12). After all, Timothy was young (perhaps as young as his late 20s or his early-to-mid 30s), and God used him—so surely God could use me, too. Timothy’s relative youthfulness was not an automatic hindrance to his ministry.
The problem for me in those days was that while I held tightly to the first part of 1 Timothy 4:12, I didn’t pay much attention to the latter part: “but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” I failed to let this text sink in; thus, I missed opportunities to show spiritual maturity beyond my chronological age. Instead, I struggled at times with speaking only those things honoring to God, conducting my life as a witness in front of all others, loving people with God’s love, trusting Him in faith, and maintaining purity in my personal life. I didn’t always live in defeat, but nor did I realize how much my walk with God mattered in countering the perceptions of my youthfulness.
I’m much older now, but I’ve learned that all of us—at all times in our lives, regardless of our age—are to set an example in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. That mandate is not limited to young men.
PRAYER: “Help me, Lord, to be the example You require me to be. Keep conforming me to the image of Your Son.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Jeremiah 11-13, 1 Timothy 5:3-25