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Christian Life

Bible Study: Don’t Let Anyone Look Down on Your Youth

Few things bother me more than watching a group of adults ignore or be condescending to a teen or child. I often find myself reminding people, especially in the church, that “youth have wisdom, too.” Sometimes adults seem hard-wired to look down on anyone in a younger age bracket or who have less experience at a particular job. I don’t think adults do this on purpose. Some just forget what life was like for them when they were younger; they forget that God can use anyone, regardless of age.

This isn’t news. Adults have had this tendency for about 2,000 years.

The apostle Paul was aware of it when he wrote to a young pastor named Timothy,

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young (1 Timothy 4:12 CEB).

Paul knows that adults can sometimes feel superior to young people, and he warns Timothy. Paul doesn’t want Timothy to get distracted by trying to prove himself to people who think that his age makes him unqualified to be a pastor. Have you ever heard this phrase?

God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.

If you read the Bible, you’ll notice that most of the time, God called unqualified people to do His work. These people weren’t actually unqualified, but they felt unqualified for the jobs God wanted them to do. It doesn’t help us feel qualified to do God’s work when other people are continually telling us that we’re unqualified.

As a youth pastor, I see many students start to give a suggestion about something and stop part way through because they’re afraid. They think no one will care what they have to say because they’re young. This is heartbreaking.

Paul knows that sometimes speaking wisdom isn’t enough, so after this exhortation, he gives Timothy a list of things to focus on so that people can see by both his words and lifestyle that he is not inferior to them.

Instead, set an example for the believers through your speech, behavior, love, faith, and by being sexually pure. Until I arrive, pay attention to public reading [of Scripture], preaching and teaching. Don’t neglect the spiritual gift in you that was given through prophecy when the elders laid hands on you. Practice these things, and live by them so that your progress will be visible to all. Focus on working on your own development and on what you teach. If you do this, you will save yourself and those who hear you* ( 1 Timothy 4:13-16 CEB).

(*Note – when Paul uses the phrase, “you will save yourself and those who hear you,” he doesn’t mean that salvation will come to people through Timothy. He means that people will come to salvation by hearing the truth preached by Timothy and that Timothy will fulfill his calling.)

Set an example for other believers with your speech, behavior, love, faith and purity. Don’t just do what it seems like everyone else in church is doing. Read the Word for yourself, and do what the Lord says. Love your neighbor (Mat. 22:39) and your enemy (Mat. 5:44). Bless those who persecute you (Mat. 5:44). Forgive people (Mat. 6:15). Speak with kindness and purity (Prov. 22:11, Eph. 4:29). Behave in a godly manner (1 Peter 3:8-9) and honor those in authority (1 Peter 2:13, Heb. 13:17).

1 Timothy 4:12-16 is one of the most powerful passages in the New Testament with regard to our actions. Don’t be discouraged if it seems like adults aren’t paying attention; make your voice heard anyway. Do it with love. Follow the example that Paul set down for Timothy to follow. God’s church needs your ideas, your passion and your wisdom.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because of your youth…not even yourself.

Girls, do you ever feel inferior because of your youth?

People were bringing babies to Jesus so that he would bless them. When the disciples saw this, they scolded them. Then Jesus called them to Him and said, ‘Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid them, because God’s kingdom belongs to people like these children. I assure you that whoever doesn’t welcome God’s kingdom like a child will never enter it’ (Luke 18:15-17 CEB).

More Stories Like This on Project Inspired:

Bible Study: What Does It Mean to Live in True Fellowship?
Bible Study: What Does “Encouragement” Really Mean?
Bible Study: Do You Know How to Forgive Yourself?

Image: iStockPhoto, ThinkStock


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  1. Guarded by Angels

    Posted by Guarded by Angels on November 22, 2013 at 21:39

    This is my favorite verse!!!!(1timothy 4:12)

  2. Project Inspired

    Posted by blackbelt312314 on June 4, 2013 at 11:20

    Also another scripture that backs this up is Jeremiah 1:6-10

  3. kungfugirl

    Posted by kungfugirl on April 21, 2013 at 07:56

    So true.

  4. AlexisDavinaMonroe

    Posted by AlexisDavinaMonroe on April 20, 2013 at 11:00

    I do actually believe that children and youth of all generations are able to make an impact and use ther spiritual gifts to an advantage. People dont see it that way because we are younger. Good Lesson!

  5. Guarded by Angels

    Posted by Guarded by Angels on April 19, 2013 at 15:11

    1 Timothy 4:12 is my favorite Bible Verse:)

  6. jillijill20

    Posted by jillijill20 on April 19, 2013 at 08:22


    THis bothers me too!!! So ironic that you posted this because last Sunday, Mark Driscoll (Mars Hill) did a sermon on this!! Funny!!!!!! If you want to check it out, go to marshill.com and click on sermons. The sermon is called I am Adopted!!!


  7. cr4zymodesty

    Posted by cr4zymodesty on April 18, 2013 at 13:23

    This has happened more often than I can even say at my church. We used to have “youth sundays” where the youth group band would play instead of the normal band. After a while, the church had older people complaining that they “were too young” and that “they shouldn’t be on stage”. They were doing the same songs as the normal band was but they got looked down on because they weren’t as experienced, though all of the youth were great musicians. It made me very sad and angry.

  8. love4494

    Posted by love4494 on April 18, 2013 at 12:42

    This is so true, you are never to young to be used by God! I am only 16 but I am an Awana leader in training, on the care team, puppet ministry at Church and I have an anti-bullying movement.

  9. Posted by Nicole on April 18, 2013 at 12:25

    Wow this was incredibly inspiring and educational! It’s great to know that Paul was addressing this very topic 2,000 years ago! The Bible is so amazing. 🙂