I Timothy 4:12 “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
Out of all the miraculous moments of being a parent, what surprises me the most about my children is when they act like me. My wife will say, “I just don’t know why he (referring to my son) acts that way.” Oh, honey, I do! He learned it from me. I see my daughters do something, and I will tell my wife, “Look. It is little you.” She does not usually find it funny, but we know that our kids take from our words, our personality, our actions, our emotions, and our attitude.
Usually this passage is preached to teenagers to try to create an even atmosphere in the youth group, but as I grow in years the passage seems to grow with me. I notice first that Timothy is not a teenager, but a pastor. Paul points out in 1 Timothy 1:3 that the man of God was left in Ephesus to be in charge. The second note I make is that the entire book is about the requirements of not just a pastor. Paul instructs Timothy on what the men should do, what the women should do, the requirements of a Bishop, the requirements of a Deacon, and ultimately that Timothy would know 1 Timothy 3:15 “how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God.” For these reasons, I believe that young preachers are a more suitable application of 1 Timothy 4:12 than teenagers. Youth pastors, pastors, youth workers, leaders are admonished to be an example, or a model, of what a believer should look like. It is easy to watch how our children take after us, but the influence of a man or woman who holds responsibility in the church has the same effect. When I was a bus captain, my workers and riders would “pick things up” from me. When I was a youth pastor, my teenagers, workers, and even parents would take cues from how I acted. We know all too well that church staff members and their families are constantly under the spy glass of the people. The parsons not only see how you live your life, but will be directly influenced by it.
1. There will always be someone who despises your lack of years and experience. – “Let no man despise thy youth:”
I am 28 years old right now, but my dad will ALWAYS judge me like I am a kid. It is what it is. Everyone is my teacher, and someone will always know something that I do not. I could write a book about working in the bus ministry, but I could not even dare to pretend to write a church manual. I will always have a senior in my field, and so I need to constantly be an example of the believer.
2. Be an example in what matters. – “In word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
One of my running jokes as a youth pastor is that I am constantly losing at something. Sports, competitions, carnal knowledge, speed, agility, strength, or video games. I always have a teen that could beat me. It never bothers me (too much) because none of it really matters. 1 Timothy is a letter about godliness, holiness, and soundness. Let us major on what is major. I was excited when my teen had fun playing basketball at conference, but I was even more excited when I found out they made a spiritual decision. Our example leads that.
Pastor Jesse McCammon
Calvary Baptist Church | Flora, IL