It was Sunday morning and my family was out of town visiting a Christian fellowship with friends.
A teenaged young man had been invited to share his testimony of participation in the youth mission trip. He approached the platform reluctantly, accepted the microphone with his right hand and tossed it to his left like a football, then continued tossing it back and forth throughout his address. The next few minutes were awkward for the young man and the congregation.
“Like…uh…we….like…..uh……flew in a like…..uh….you know…..plane…and stuff. And we like….uh…you know….helped out some like people…with like…you know…stuff. I’m s’posed to like tell you like…my uh testimony…and stuff…and like y’know it was like God was way awesome…..y’know? And uuuummmm…..like the coolest part was when the guys like threw this like pie in the counselor’s face! Like…dude! I’d totally go back just for that! God is like awesome…y’know?”
A few minutes into his talk we overheard an elderly couple sitting directly in front of us. The woman leaned into her husband to whisper loudly enough for at least three pews to hear. “He’s just young. Someday he will grow up. He’s just young.”
We don’t expect much of young American Christians these days.
The research about younger generations today suggests this is a global epidemic. But are these low expectations consistent with biblical expectations for the development of leaders in the faith?
The Hebrew and Christian scriptures are filled with examples of young men who responded to God’s call on their lives and were trained for leadership in their youth. At a tender young age Samuel heard the Lord’s voice and responded to God’s call on his life. As he grew God used him mightily. While a youth, David became the national hero, single handedly killing the enemy giant with skills he had already refined while tending the family’s sheep. He grew to be a great King and was used and loved by God. As an adolescent Daniel was taken into captivity and withstood the tantalizing culinary arts of the royal chef in order to follow a diet he believed to be God-ordained. He grew to be an influential leader and was used by God. There is an emergent theme. Young men who hear and respond to God’s call and in their youth develop leadership skills which God uses to influence kingdoms and the world for his purposes.
Timothy was another such young leader.
He responded to God’s call on his life at a young age and under the tutelage of a great mentor, grew to be an influential leader in the early church. Paul’s first letter to his young protégée is a comprehensive guide to leadership development for contemporary youth and their mentors. Consider Paul’s counsel in 1 Timothy 4:12. Don’t let anyone look down on you in your youth, but set an example for believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.
What if more of today’s youth were mentored to set the same example in contemporary culture? It can happen.
Learn more about how ICC is mentoring today’s youth to set the example at ICCinc.org
Dr. Teresa Moon, founding President and CEO of the Institute for Cultural Communicators, is an internationally-recognized seminar speaker, education consultant, author, and leadership coach. Each year, she travels globally equipping students, teachers, and parents to become “cultural communicators,” transforming ordinary students into extraordinary communicators and authentic leaders.