1 Timothy 4: Young and Responsible
In 1 Timothy 4, we find out that there were apparently some people in the church who did not appreciate the fact that a young man was their spiritual leader. Paul encourages Timothy to be an example.
1Ti 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.
1Ti 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
I know that everyone has probably heard this verse repeated in youth group and things like that for years, but Paul did not just tell Timothy to not worry about being young. He told him to live out a life of quality as well. He essentially had to earn their respect by dedicating himself to the service at hand.
In the world today, I feel like we would like to stop the verse after the word youth. We don’t want people to look down on us for being younger, so we would embrace that part of the verse. Paul seems to agree that these people should not, but Timothy has a responsibility as well. His job is to earn their respect by acting like a pastor in the early church was expected to act. They had to meet in the middle.
If we bring this one to the modern context, think about the phrase “do as I say, not as I do.” The implication there is that we expect other people to follow rules and do things in the right way, but we don’t take responsibility ourselves. Paul is blatantly telling Timothy not to do that. Yes, they should not look down on you because of your youth. However, you need to live up to the standard of a pastor as well. You cannot act like a young kid and expect the people to respect you like they ought to because of your position.
Christian leaders can obviously be old or young, and ultimately age is not what makes a difference. Rather, a commitment to following God and being an example in that lifestyle is much more important.