“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.” I Timothy 4:12
I dropped off my 11 and 13 year old sons for state standardized testing this week. I sign them into the care of a trained teacher who oversees the process, makes sure they stay safe, take their tests, and return to me at the end of the time period. I was forced to consider my age during this process because the teachers in charge looked close to my sons age than my age. I did a little quick math and realized they ARE closer to my sons age than my age! And, they looked it too.
I remember when people used to say to me, “You look too young to be a pastor!” It’s been a few years since anyone has said that to me. I miss those days of youth, but I don’t miss the feeling of needing to prove myself. I’m sure those teachers face that feeling every day.
The growing age gap really hits me when I walk through a hospital and notice that more and more Doogie Howsers are running around with medical degrees allowing them to perform surgeries and make life and death decisions in the Emergency Room. They look like kids, but are really of the right age to be trained and practicing medicine. I question their ability based on nothing more than their looks.
While there is something to be said for the wisdom that comes with experience it is important to remember that age does not always validate skill or knowledge.
We even see this in the church, don’t we? The young are often seen as the “NEXT generation” instead of a current living and active Body of Christ. Paul’s encouragement to Timothy is a good reminder. If you are young, don’t let it stop you from being a leader and an example. Live out your faith with boldness and confidence! If you USED to be young, don’t stop others from leading because of their looks. Encourage them. Learn from them. Provide space for them to lead.
Now that I’ve shifted from young to old this is a good reminder for me!
Dear Jesus, thank you for youth, help them to lead your Church. Amen.