1 Timothy 4:14: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example to the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”
I grew up attending Faith UMC. I was active in our youth group, handbell choir, regular choir and mission trips. I was also involved at the district and conference levels. One year, the theme for Youth Annual Conference (held at Lakeside the weekend before Annual Conference) was 1 Timothy 4:14. This scripture stuck with me because it highlighted my responsibilities as a young person. As a teen and young adult, I often felt unheard by others. I needed to prove myself by being a good example. This is something anyone can do regardless of age.
While I am most certainly not considered a youth now, listening and responding to youth remains a major call in my faith. I teach school, and help with Sunday School, VBS, and other youth related activities as needed. Most importantly, I am a parent. I consistently need to remember to listen, and to present the children I encounter with the same challenge: set an example and earn respect. As a person now in the middle generation, I have the privilege of learning from those younger than me, and listening to those with more experience.
The lessons of this scripture seem especially relevant at Christmastime. Jesus came to the world as a baby, and taught throughout his life. He died at 32, a young age, but he showed us through his perfect example the ideal to which we should strive. Christmas is a holiday that celebrates the joy of his birth, and where our culture focuses on children as the recipients of gifts and a source of joy. Let’s make it a goal to set an example of faith for our children, so that they can go into the world as an example to others.
Dear Lord, Help me to be an example to others of your love, faith, and forgiveness. Help me to listen to those who are young and to show respect to all. Thanks for your gift of generations and the opportunity to learn and share from one another. Thank you for your perfect example. Amen.