Monday, June 01, 2009

Young pastors and 1 Timothy 4:12

There’s no escaping it. Your pastors are young. No amount of pretending, facial hair, or new birthdays can hide what is plain to see. We’re young. If we can count on any reaction when we’re first introduced as pastors, specifically as pastors at Grace, it’s that we’ll get a quick look-over followed by the inevitable, “Wow, you’re so young.” And we neither deny that nor resent it.

Our confidence in the Word of God drives us as young pastors. If ministry goals, priorities, and success were left up to us, we’d be some very frustrated young men. If wisdom depended on age and experience, we’d be some very ineffective young men. If pastoring were only for the veteran and aged, we’d be some very unqualified young men. To God’s glory, however, the Bible is a sure and solid word for pastors regardless of age.

Precisely because of our awareness of our own age, several biblical passages hit very close to home. We treasure these passages, feed on them, depend on them. Specifically, Paul’s pastoral letters to young Timothy are a constant treasure trove of encouragement, conviction, and instruction. Over the next few posts, I’d like to consider with you some very personal and practical implications of 1 Timothy 4:12.

1 Timothy 4:12 opens with an extremely pointed command. Paul orders Timothy, “Let no one despise you for your youth.” Paul was aware of the distinct possibility that people might look down at Timothy with disdain, ridicule, and rejection. Paul targets Timothy’s “youth” as the object of that disdain. I don’t think that Paul is suggesting people would look down on Timothy merely because of his age. Implied is the host of immature baggage that attends youthfulness, as seen in the contrast that will complete the verse.

For all the good energy, idealism, and promise that come with young leaders, there are undeniable hazards as well. “Youth” can mean lack of testing. Young pastors have not gone through the crucible of day-in, day-out ministry and come out proven as faithful. “Youth” can mean lack of maturity. It can mean rash impetuousness, selfish pleasure seeking, reckless energy, and shortsighted living. But it does not have to.

Paul does not tell Timothy to live in paranoid fear of man’s opinion, constantly focusing on every raised eyebrow and condescending “You’ll know better when you’re older.” He does not leave Timothy with the impossible task of controlling the thoughts and attitudes of others. Instead, he gives him a clear personal responsibility that will stop others from despising his youth. Paul says young Timothy should be a stellar example.

Notice Paul does not tell Timothy to wait until he is older and wiser to pastor, or to find an aged mentor, or to get some more experience under his belt (all of which can be helpful). Paul’s concern with youthfulness is not about experience. It’s about example. If we as young pastors are to keep others from despising our youthfulness, then we should live as model biblical men.

The Holy Spirit intentionally chose five key areas where young pastors must clearly shine. Ever wonder why these five? There are a plethora of biblical commands and characteristics young pastors are just as responsible for as these. But I’m convinced that these five areas were particular challenges for Timothy and continue to be so for every other young pastor. The components of speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity pose unique dangers to the weaknesses and hence reputations of young pastors. In following posts, we’ll explore a more detailed look at all five of these crucial character priorities. Without being examples in these areas, your young pastors are doomed to be despised for their youth.


Blogger Adam Bailie said...


Thu Jun 04, 09:32:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Andrew said...

Several years ago Pastor Whitcomb told me that no one would listen to me until I was thirty-and if they did, they shouldn't. I am glad to see that the next few months until I am thirty don't have to be wasted. =)

Thu Jun 04, 10:20:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanx so much for the encouragement,today ,and everyday i strive to so much to just stay focused on god and his wonderful plan that he has in store for me for he also called me to be a pastor and i havent quite made it there yet but i have so much faith and never stop believing who he is and what he said he would do for me so now i just stay humble align mysely up to his plan and let him just keep on preparing me for what he called me to do so i definately applaud you for passege left here for young pastors in training to be able to come to the site annd simply find comfort SINCERLY,patrick brewer,HOBBS,nm

Mon Nov 08, 02:47:00 PM PST  

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