“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 Timothy 4: 12 NIV)
One of my favorite movies growing up was Matilda. In the movie, Matilda tries to navigate her childhood while surrounded by neglectful and horrible adults, except her teacher, Miss Honey. At one point of the movie, Matilda confronts her father and his questionable actions with his used car dealership. To which he replies, “I’m smart, you’re dumb. I’m big, you’re little. I’m right, you’re wrong. And there’s nothing you can do about it.” However, there was something she could do about it…and she did.
There can be times when younger people (think Millenials and Generation Z kids) are looked down upon due to their age. And I can’t always fault older people, especially when youth today are participating in ridiculous challenges, like the tide pod challenge. However, constantly looking down upon youth can have unwarranted effects. Instead of showing maturity, they will continue to portray themselves as immature. And instead of using their gifts and skills in the world, they will keep them hidden until they reach “an appropriate age for people to take them seriously.”
1 Timothy reminds young people not to let others look down on them because they are younger. I heard this verse a couple of years ago and think about it from time to time. Lately, I’ve been given some opportunities at work where I am training some of my older co-workers. They haven’t expressed that I’m not equipped to conduct a training class or that I should let someone more “experienced” take over, but I still feel weird. I think I’ve bought into this narrative that I should wait my turn to make a difference/have a voice. Or perhaps I feel weird because I was raised to respect my elders; and in a way, having a higher position or training them in something they’ve been doing a lot longer than me, seems like I’m disrespecting them.
I also had this feeling when I was asked to coach women who are leading small groups at my church this semester. I’m finding out that I’m shrinking away from what God is calling me to do because of my age or life experience. God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called and He will use anyone…no matter their age. So young people, don’t limit yourself or let anyone limit you in life. You have a lot to offer; your ideas, your talents, and your experiences are all important. Be an example to others in your speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity. And I challenge you this week, whenever you find yourself shrinking to appease others, stand bold and be courageous.