Kermit the Frog said, “It’s not easy being green.”
I am green. By that I mean I am young and inexperienced. I lack much of the ministry experience (and life experience) of my fellow contributors on sbcIMPACT.org, and if word got out how old I actually am, they might take away my blogger’s license and hand me a Hello Kitty Journal and ask me to get back in touch with them in a few years.
Okay, maybe not. But I am green.
Probably from the time I was twelve I was told about the great motivational Bible verse for young people: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12, NIV©1984).
This verse was not just on my lips and in my mind. Others were quoting it as well. Even pastors were talking about how Timothy was only around 17 when he became a pastor.
This was all great except for one thing: Timothy was not 17. In all reality, he was probably in his mid-late thirties when he received this letter from Paul.
The first we hear of Timothy is in Acts 16 when he joins up with Paul on his second missionary journey, though he was probably converted in Lystra during Paul’s first trip. That conversion may have occurred somewhere around 48 A.D. The second trip was around 50 A.D. The letter to Timothy was written sometime around 64 A.D. Even if Timothy was 16 when he became a Christian, he would have been a minimum of 32 years old when 1 Timothy was written. The point of all this is that hoping people will someday not look down on me because of my age is pointless.
I know a pastor who said that he always thought people would respect him when he turned thirty. Thirty came and went. Then he thought that when he turned forty, people would respect him. I think he’s gotten over that delusion.
Each of us probably feeds a similar delusion. Sometimes it’s the belief that one day I’ll be respected for my age. Or people will listen to me when I have kids of my own. Or once I get a college degree I’ll have more influence.
1 Timothy 4:12 does not teach us that one day people will look up to us once we’ve arrived at some goal or life event. It teaches us that people are going to look down on us simply for who we are. The challenge, then, is to set an example anyway “in speech, in love, in faith and in purity.”