Recent research has revealed what teenagers truly desire from the adults in their lives. The Search Institute study found that teens want parents and other older influencers to do the following:
- Look at us.
- Spend time talking with us.
- Be dependable.
- Show appreciation for what we do.
- Show that you’re interested.
- Laugh with us (and at yourself).
- Ask us to help you.
- Challenge us.
I believe the apostle Paul did many of those things as he built into the life of a young man named Timothy. And, as number 10 on the list states, he truly did challenge him, writing, “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity” (I Timothy 4:12). What’s impressive is that Timothy was dealing with the difficult challenge of tackling false teaching in the church at Ephesus, along with some bitter persecution. Yet Paul told him to boldly live out his faith — to be an example. And Timothy needed to look no further than the great example provided by Paul himself.
“The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you" (Philippians 4:9).
“But you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium [and] at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord delivered me!” (II Timothy 3:10-11).
If we want those who are younger to walk confidently in their faith, we must provide for them a living model. We need to show them the “living God, who is the Savior of all people” and “keep a close watch on how [we] live” (I Timothy 4:10,16). As they witness Jesus alive in us, it will help them take their own bold faith steps.
Let younger believers know that they can be an example to all believers. And, as you do, “stay true to what is right for the sake of [your] own salvation and the salvation” of these precious younger ones (I Timothy 4:16).
“But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. Prescribe and teach these things. Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. Until I come, give attention to the public reading [of Scripture,] to exhortation and teaching. Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed upon you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. Take pains with these things; be [absorbed] in them, so that your progress may be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” (I Timothy 4:7-10).
Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity (I Timothy 4:12).
Read what Paul wrote to a friend in Titus 2:7 and consider how you can be an example to other believers — particularly younger ones.
Today, how will you encourage some younger believers you know? What example have you been setting for other believers in Jesus?