The Example of Youth
Paul told Timothy not to let anyone look down on him for his youth, but instead he should be an example of godliness. Timothy was a pastor, but this principle applies even to the very young. The youngest child can be an example for the rest of us of a sincere and growing faith. One of our church values is inspiring a legacy in worship across generations. For me, a highlight on Sundays is watching children come to church with their parents.
Let me share a recent experience that continues to come to my mind and heart. Each week in the Meadow, children hear a lesson on the same Scripture passage their parents hear in the sermon. A couple weeks ago, we spent time reading what Paul wrote to Timothy regarding the mystery of godliness. It was Pentecost Sunday so we turned to Acts to discover what happened to the disciples that set them mysteriously on fire for Jesus. With sincere awe, we wondered about being changed by the Holy Spirit so much that all our worries and fears would be replaced with unstoppable passion for God.
As we read the verses and imagined the scene, we knew we had to do something. We wanted to pray. We used a simple acronym to guide our prayer time: A.C.T.S. (Adoration of God, Confession of sins, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.) What followed is almost too tender to speak out loud or write, but I am compelled to share how children are growing in the mystery of godliness.
We knelt down together, some foreheads were touching the floor, and it was silent. Mrs. Johnson and I quietly waited. I began with words of adoration and then the children prayed similar words. We moved to confession and then it happened. A child quietly said, “God, thank you for being a God who forgives sin. Please, God, please bring my sin into your light, so that I know what I need to confess.”
Paul wrote, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Tim 4:12 NIV). The “examples” walk into church with their parents every Sunday. Have you talked to a child or youth recently? Although young, they often surprise with transparency, faith, and love that encourages and spurs me on in my walk with God.
Kari Jane Smith
Director of Children’s Ministry