Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:11-16
When I was in seminary, I was one of a very few twenty-somethings in my church. There were a couple college students, but most of the church population was older than me and in a different stage of life. Young families, empty nesters, retirees. I felt so insecure as I tried to minister to them. How could I have anything to say to them, not having had so many life experiences that they had? And why would they listen to me or see me as a contributor to the kingdom and not just someone who needs to learn? It was hard not to feel disqualified from meaningful ministry because of my youth.
This week we have addressed the tendency for generations to disdain, disregard, and question one another. The old and young alike shake their heads and think “they just don’t get it.” But the full picture of God’s people, which our church is supposed to mirror, includes those of all ages. Instead of looking down on those who are different, especially those who are younger, seek to honor them instead. We see over and over again in Scripture and in history God using those of different age groups, old and young. He called Timothy, he called Jeremiah, he called Mary. Why would he think he’s suddenly stopped using, calling, and equipping the young with this generation?
This week, reach out to someone who is younger than you. Commend and encourage them for the ways you see them contributing to the Kingdom. If you can, give specific examples of their gifting or times you have seen them step up. Maybe put it in writing so they can hold on to your thoughts and be encouraged in the future. After you have reached out to them, continue to pray for them.
By Jessica Rust