Saturday, July 23, 2011

Young leaders in the Bible

When I think of young guys who stepped up to the call of ministry, I think of Timothy and Titus. Although there are other people who could be listed, I'd really like to dive into the lives of these men as we think about what it means to step up in your generation.

Timothy was a young man that traveled with Paul and functioned as his messenger, representing him in Thessalonica, Ephesus, Macedonia and Corinth. He was a pastor who received much encouragement from Paul himself because he was naturally timid. What is interesting is that not only was he probably naturally socially fearful, but he had some reason to be closed-off because of his age. In response, Paul told him this:

Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Tim 4:12

I find this verse to be quite inspiring because it shows that age really makes no difference to God who calls us to serve. I know that some of you are not "social butterflies" and just imaging the responsibilities that Timothy was given (taking an unpopular message to an unfamiliar people) is enough to make you squirm. But think of the confidence we can have in ministry-- God empowers us to truly serve Him well. In this we can be sure that we are doing what we are supposed to do, despite what others say about our youth.

Titus was also a young leader influenced by Paul. He was sent to the island of Crete to organize the churches that were full of sinful men that were striving for their own sinful passions. The situation was messy. The Cretans were self-described as “liars, evil beasts, [and] lazy gluttons,” (Titus 1:12). The men there were rebellious, slanderous and devious. Divisive arguments about “unprofitable and useless” items stirred up contention among the people (3:9). Because of these things, Paul made it clear that their “mouths must be stopped” (1:11, emphasis added). Titus's job was to correct those in the church living ungodly lives so that they may be encouraged to do good works (1:13-16).

Titus was a Greek man who, as it is widely believed, was led to faith by Paul. In Titus 1:4, Paul calls him “a true son” which is also how Paul addresses Timothy (1 Tim 1:2), whom he also led to the Lord. Titus's time spent with Paul in Crete was not their first battle together. Titus is mentioned nine times in 2 Corinthians. Paul even instructed the Corinthians to answer anyone with a question about Titus with this answer: “he is my partner and fellow worker” (2 Cor 8:23, emphasis added). This means, as John MacArthur puts it, that “Titus was not simply Paul's understudy but was his beloved brother.” In this sense, Titus was not just getting orders barked to him, but he was a co-administrator who worked out plans with missional-minded Paul.

Now what Titus was going to face in Crete is really similar to what a lot of young leaders have to face in America. The typical American church is lacking strong, Bible-believing men in leadership who are truly committed to their ministry. 

Titus's mission was to completely rejuvenate and organize the mess that the Cretans called church. He was a great man for the job because he believed the word of the Lord and proved himself to be a good worker (2 Cor 8:23). One could easily presume that he was the kind of guy who could roll his sleeves up and use a little elbow grease to get the job done. Long-term commitment was not an issue for him either, as it is recorded by historian Eusebius that Titus stayed on in Crete, becoming their first bishop. He was just one man, sent by God through an Apostle, to test all his energy and sanity in order that the believers of these churches would glorify God rightly. Because of his willingness to obey the Lord by leading, Crete was a different place.

This idea of young people in leadership is nothing new and it's definitely not something God resists. He wants young people to be devoted to the ministry. Are you on board? Is God calling you to lead? Are you equipped?

Think about these things as I go through this series on what it means to be a young leader. God bless you.

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