Over my many years of ministry, I have met several people who have begun serving the Lord at young ages. Sometimes, God has raised up 10- or 12-year-olds, who grew, were mentored, and are now planting and caring for churches around the world and they’re still young people! That’s a lot of responsibility for a young person.
This makes me think of the wise advice the Apostle Paul wrote to his spiritual son, Timothy. He told him,
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. [1Tim 4:12 ESV]
Paul entrusted a lot to Timothy. After years of taking Timothy with him on his travels, Paul had given him oversight of the church in Ephesus even though Timothy was just a young man. Paul knew that some people might look down on Timothy because he was so young, but Paul told Timothy to not let it get to him! He knew Timothy was the right man for the job. After all, he had known him for years. He knew his family and their spiritual legacy. And he knew that Timothy had a sincere faith. Paul wrote to him:
As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. [2 Tim.1:4-5 ESV]
Like Timothy with Paul, those young church planters we have known spent years working side by side with their mentors. They experienced good times and bad, and even suffered persecution together.
This Scripture also reveals a very close and loving relationship between Timothy and Paul. Many times in his writings Paul refers to Timothy as his beloved child. There was affection and there was trust. Such affection, I believe, allowed them to know each other very well. Paul was able to discern in his spiritual son what God was doing in his heart. As Paul wrote about another spiritual son, Titus:
I thank God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. [2 Cor 8:16 NIV]
Paul was able to see that God had put into the heart of his disciple the same concern and love for the overseas churches that Paul had. This gave Paul a great assurance that his spiritual son would do the right thing, the very thing that Paul would do if he were there himself.
So, to the older church leaders, like yours truly, let me encourage you today. It may not seem like it sometimes, but God has put his heart into some young people out there today. This is a work of God’s grace and nothing can ever stop the love of God!
Now to the younger church leaders, don’t let anyone look down on you because you are so young. You have a sense of what God put in your heart. That’s right, God put that fire there, God put that love there, and He knows what He is doing.
I know it isn’t popular to become like your parents today but get over it. Your life is going to be a reflection of your spiritual fathers and mentors.
So everyone, be encouraged. God and your pastor put you in your position of service. Don’t let the devil tell you that you’re not qualified to do what God and your mentor have equipped you to do. His Grace within us is amazing!
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. [Eph 3:20-21 NIV]
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