Don't Let Your Age Be a Handicap
Yesterday, I preached a sermon titled "Directions to a Young Pastor" (You can listen to it here).
The whole sermon was based on 1 Timothy 4:11-16 where an older Paul is writing advice to a younger Timothy. Timothy was in his early to mid 30s, and he was to become the pastor of an established church full of people who were his parents' age. Paul says, "Don't let people look down on you because of your age (1 Timothy 4:12)." Timothy was known to be timid and shy (see 2 Timothy 1:7 & 1 Corinthians 16:10-11), and Paul was telling him, "Timothy, don't worry about your age. There's nothing you can do about it. Lead these people and don't care about how young you are."
Paul then goes on to tell Timothy to "watch your life and doctrine closely (1 Timothy 4:16)." No matter what your age is, in order to earn respect from those who you work with or come into contact with, you must work on your character and hold to your convictions.
Watch Your Life Closely (Work on Your Character)
As a younger person, Timothy had to lead people who were twice his age. In order to earn respect from those older and from those in his community, he had to be careful with how he lived his life because people were always watching. As Christians, no matter what your age, once you say you are a Christian, people will be watching you. Paul tells Timothy, "Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity (1 Timothy 4:12)." The way in which we conduct ourselves will set an example to others. People will know who we are by how we behave. Are we practicing what we preach? Is our private life consistent with our public life?
As Christians, we all have to be constantly examining our hearts and looking deep within. Looking on the inside wins respect from the outside. I've known teenagers who have great character and integrity who have influenced older people and have made significant impact. I've known senior citizens who have incredible humility and character who younger people are always going to for advice and wisdom. No matter your age, you can make a difference, but in order to make a difference, you have to work on your character.
To earn respect from others, you not only have to watch your life closely but also your doctrine closely.
Watch Your Doctrine Closely (Hold to Your Convictions)
Timothy was in a situation where people within the church were teaching false doctrines (1 Timothy 4:1-7). He had to not only be a student of God's Word, but he also had to have the courage to speak up against the heresy and teach what was true. The problem with the false teachers in Timothy's church was that they forgot the goodness of God.
The moment we lose sight of God will be the moment we lose sight of ourselves.
If we don't think about God throughout the day, if we don't pray to Him, if we don't read His Word, if we don't talk about Him, we will begin to lose sight of who we are. We are all created in God's image, and because we are made in His likeness, we have to know about Him and know Him personally. If we don't know our Creator, we won't fully understand who we are.
In order to watch our doctrine closely, we must be students of His Word, and we must keep Him at the center of our lives and minds. People are looking for more and more people who have convictions to speak up and to stand up for what's right.
Having conviction also means that you will be convicted from where you have wronged God and have wronged others. You are not only convicted by the truth of God's Word, but when you mess up, you're convicted by where you've missed the mark.
Remember, when you make mistakes (which you will) to quickly own your mistakes, confess where you have wronged God and others, and move forward in faith. People can't expect anybody to be Jesus because noone's perfect. But, a person who watches their lives and doctrines closely knows they must humble themselves and be people who constantly repent and rely on the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit to get them through life day by day. If you are authentic and genuine and know you're not perfect, people are drawn to this because they know they're not perfect either. That's what makes Jesus so great because He's perfect!
To be a person of conviction who watches their doctrine closely means you not only truly believe what the Bible says, but you also let the Word of God inspire you to change your behaviors and do what is right.
Don't let your age be a handicap. If you're watching your life and your doctrine closely, you can become a person of great influence.