ENCOURAGEMENT FOR YOUTH

This year, I turned 22 years old. It’s an odd feeling being in my low 20’s: I start having thoughts such as “back in my day” and “kids these days don’t know” (or something of that nature), the repercussions of past injuries remind me to be more careful, and I see the responsibilities of an older life waiting for me. Surely, older readers will see this and chuckle, scoff, or something in between. “Try being insert age here!”

Although I have these thoughts where I see myself as “older”, it only takes a minute to think about just how young I really am. The Lord has allowed me 22 long years of life, and I still have a great amount of physical energy and time. Those are gifts that many people my age and younger have, but they are gifts that will not last forever. What we do with those gifts is an important decision. Do we use those gifts correctly? Do we use them efficiently? Do we use them to get what we want for ourselves, or to help others with what they need?

Young people such as college, high school, and junior high students have enormous opportunity to serve God and others. Hopefully, you the reader have been surrounded by other followers of Jesus, who have taught you what the Lord says and have been positive role models to follow. Hopefully, you have given your life to Christ, and are willing sacrifice your time and energy to serve God. If so, I challenge you to find a way to do that. It can range from sharing your faith with unbelievers, to serving your church or community, or even to serving your family.

Maybe you are unsure of exactly how you can serve the Lord. If you are like me, then you sometimes struggle with feeling “qualified” to serve God because of a lack of experience or knowledge. But the apostle Paul wrote of a way that young people can serve God successfully in 1 Timothy 4: 10-12. He told a young Timothy to be an example to other believers through how we talk and act, how we love one another, and how we faithfully follow Christ. Paul tells Timothy to set this example for everyone, including believers older than him, so that they don’t look down on him while he proclaims the Gospel.

In Western culture, young people are expected to be immature and rebellious, and therefore can be easily dismissed by older people. I encourage you to rise above this standard that our culture has of young people, and to show the people around you that you serve the Lord and are willing to be used by the Lord in the way he chooses. It doesn’t take a degree from a university or Bible college, nor the experience of raising a family, nor the leadership traits of a rugged five-star general to love Christ, emulate Christ, and to tell others about Christ. Everyone can follow the example of humility, patience, and love that Jesus Christ set for us.

In Jeremiah 1, when the Lord called Jeremiah to be a prophet to the nations, Jeremiah responded by saying, “Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” But God responded with the following:

Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.

The Lord can and will use anyone who is willing to serve him, whether you are young, old, or somewhere in between. He will guide you through the struggles and difficulties that you will face as you serve him. If you are younger, use your energy and your passions to serve the Lord. If you are older, pray for and encourage young believers, and help walk beside them throughout their life and struggles. If you are older, but still feel young at heart, well…lucky for you, you get to do both! God bless you all! -Christian J