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Many of us who graduate from Bible College are quite young. I often preached as a student minister (going through Bible College) or as an assistant minister (after Bible College) while I was still in my twenties. Many folk I preached to were two or three times my age. They could have been my parents or even my grandparents! How could I have the gall to tell my grandmother how to suck eggs?! Surely the people I was speaking to had far more life experience than I did. How could I tell them how to live?
A favourite verse for us young graduates no doubt is 1 Timothy 4:12, which says: “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” Yes, comforting words: “Let no one despise you for your youth”! Timothy was young. Paul was aware of the problem. He asked Timothy not to let it trouble him, and not to let any one else trouble him over it. Timothy was to set an example in godliness and get on with his job as a pastor. But how can Paul say this? How can someone in their twenties teach folk in their eighties how to live?
The following verse gives us an important clue: “Until I come devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” Timothy’s job was to teach the Bible. His job was not to teach what he knew about life from his limited life experience. His job was not to give his own personal opinions about life. His job was to teach the Bible. Our authority under which we all sit as Christians is the Bible. When we listen to a pastor teach, we are listening to the Word of God, not his life experience. Therefore there is no problem at all in having a pastor who is in his twenties.
If a young pastor can teach the Bible well, we must not despise his youth. We must listen carefully to the Word of God, accept it as it is – the words of the living God, and obey it.