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Archive for February, 2012

While watching the movie David on television a few days ago, I was reminded of a friend who went through seminary with me during the mid sixties. The scenes that triggered my memory were, first, the one in which the teenage David was chosen by God to be king over Israel, and the second in which David volunteered to fight Goliath. In both scenes, people questioned his ability as a youth.

The scenes reminded me that when I graduated from seminary in Jamaica, all of my fellow graduates—except one—were called immediately by churches to be their pastors. The lone exception was a 21-year-old man who could not get hired by a congregation because church leaders felt that he was too young and inexperienced.

After a year of waiting to be called, he left Jamaica and went to the United States and completed further studies, after which he was hired by his denomination to go abroad as a missionary to Bermuda and later British Columbia.

While still young, he became head of the missionary board of his denomination and supervised the ministries of scores of missionaries around the world. He was so highly respected around the world that he was sought for advice by the heads of several countries, particularly South Africa during and after Apartheid. He is now the senior pastor of a thriving congregation in a major city in the USA.

Jamaica’s loss was the world’s gain.

The apostle Paul gave another young pastor, Timothy, some sound advice regarding his youth, and it is advice that applies to all believers, no matter their age and experience:

Do not give anyone a chance to despise you because you are young; but in your words and in your conduct, in love, in loyalty and in purity, show yourself an example of what believing people should be.
(I Timothy 4:12, William Barclay’s Translation)

Whether we are young and inexperienced or older and more mature, we are to be examples to the church and the world in:

• word (speech)
• conduct (right living; righteous)
• love (self-sacrificial service to others, seeking only their good)
• loyalty (faithfulness to Christ, no matter the cost)
• purity (complete allegiance to the standards of Jesus Christ,
showing honor, honesty, self-control, and chastity, far above the standards of the world)

Too often we have seen Christian leaders whose lives and ministries have been derailed or sidetracked because they failed in their word, conduct, love, loyalty, or purity.

So Paul’s admonition to Timothy is not only for those young in age or faith, but even more so to those who are positioned in higher levels of leadership and responsibilities, for if they stumble and fall, it is usually revealed in a very public manner, and the consequences are great and affect countless others.

So to all of us—young and old, neophyte and veteran—let us see Paul’s admonition to Timothy in a slightly different way:

Do not give anyone a chance to despise you—period! But in your words and in your conduct, in love, in loyalty and in purity, show yourself an example of what believing people should be.

******

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