This week with the student leaders, I ran a little devotional on 1 Timothy 4:12:
“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”
We talked about how as student leaders it can feel awkward “leading” because for some of them they are the youngest in the group age wise – for the others they are only a couple of years older at most! Even for me as someone whose job it is, I am only one year older than most. However God doesn’t discount leaders because of their age, he looks at the heart. 1 Sam 16:7.
However this passage in Timothy isn’t just about making young people feel good and confident. It is also challenging young leaders to set an example. So we examined the five areas and talked about what this might look like in our ministry context. I wanted to share some interesting points which came up in this:
Speech – speaking truthfully and genuinely. Not swearing and being aware of cultural language practices (for example, if in one culture the word “poo” is taboo or considered rude, we want to respect that!). Not putting people down, but building them up and encouraging other people. Speaking positively and constructively about other people.
Conduct – Again the idea of genuineness came up, our conduct should match our talk. The idea of conducting ourselves peacefully and not trying to stir conflict up. Being gentle.
Love – Someone defined this as this list of what love is in 1 Cor 13. Someone else said we have to persistently love others, even when it is not replicated. The idea of the five love languages came up as well, looking at how different people receive love and how we may have to change and be adaptable to this. Also, something I personally found interesting, is how we set an example in our love towards God not just people. I really liked this. As leaders we should be showing by example our love for Jesus! Do we express our joy and delight in Him, and having been in His presence to we share the richness of that. (Obviously not for pride’s sake! but for the sake of Jeremiah 9.24, 1 Cor 2:1-2).
Faith – This again seemed to take different forms, firstly was trusting God through the stressful times (like exams). As leaders to set an example of trusting God, but also trusting God with the sort of faith – which is complacent – but produces work. Another idea in setting an example of faith was having hope. Finally having faith in God’s forgiveness over us when we’ve sinned. Remaining confident of His love for us despite our sin, is something we can be demonstrate – by being vulnerable and open about our failings but also our confidence in the hope of the Gospel.
Purity – Obviously living sexually (physically) pure, and also having the purity of mind and heart – like when Jesus tells us that if we hate our brother or look lustfully we have sinned in our hearts.
I hope that you can be encouraged by this post in that God can qualify anyone for serving His Kingdom and People. But also challenged in the different ways we can set an example to those around us in: speech, conduct, love, faith and purity!