As a young adult in the mission field, many days I feel more ‘young’ and less ‘adult’. I think this is true for many people—not just me. Sometimes I just feel way over my head. I joke to my friends back home that I feel like I’m faking adulthood most days.
So when am I supposed to be a grown-up? Because I don’t think I’ve arrived quite yet. Sometimes I come home from a long day at the office and feel like I need to let some energy out. Loud music and dancing are usually involved. Sadly, the urge to jump on my bed is usually stifled by the fact that I sleep in a bunk bed. Well, I guess bunk beds are child-like, right?
So what does the Bible tell us about our young adulthood? How does it say we should live our lives? Or doesn’t it say? For a while I thought the Bible was only for older people to read. That besides Jesus’ remarks about letting the little children come to Him, most of scripture was written to people who had already reached maturity. I changed my mind when I came across this verse—and it has been my mantra ever since. I have repeated it over and over to myself many times when I needed encouragement or felt people weren’t taking me seriously.
1 Timothy 4:12 “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young but set an example for believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.”
Timothy was trying to fill the big shoes of Paul, even though he was considered a “young man”. Timothy was obviously struggling. Paul is telling Timothy not to be discouraged—and to live his life in such a way that people could see his good example.
So how to do we do those things? How do we set an example when people don’t seem to notice us, or care to hear our opinions? How do we react when a co-worker comments about our age, or someone at church doubts our abilities to help with the planning of the budget, or no one listens to our input about the Sunday School program. We are called to treat them like God treats us everyday. When we sin He forgives us. The feelings of discouragement should drive us to prayer, to ask God to fulfill that empty part of us.
Proverbs 16:2 tells us that, ” All a person’s ways seem pure to them,but motives are weighed by the LORD.” As young people we are blessed in so many ways and with so many talents, and yet we have a lot to learn. That doesn’t mean we are supposed to sit around and wait until we learn everything before we serve God. Our youth can give us as zeal for life and an excitement for God’s work that can also be an example for others. What a blessing to remember that God cherishes us, just the way we are right now, as young adults.
I know that when I feel discouraged I remember that God has placed me here and He can supply what I lack. He can help us remember to reflect His love to others, to be gracious when we feel discouraged, and set a wonderful example for others so they might see God in us.
“A good witness isn’t like a salesman, emphasis is on a person rather than a product. A good witness is like a signpost. It doesn’t matter whether it is old, young, pretty, ugly; it has to point the right direction and be able to be understood. We are witnesses to Christ, we point to him.” John White