In 1 Timothy 4:12 the apostle Paul exhorted Timothy, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (ESV). This scripture indicates that Timothy was a relatively young man. Because of his youth, Paul was concerned about Timothy’s influence among the congregation. Paul’s advice to Timothy was that he needed to act in a way that would lead people to respect him in spite of his youth.
There are some who believe that because they have a title, they are automatically deserving of respect. This is rarely if ever the case. Peter Drucker stated, “All the effective leaders I have encountered – both those I worked with and those I merely watched – knew four simple things: a leader is someone who has followers; popularity is not leadership, results are; leaders are highly visible, they set examples; leadership is not rank, privilege, titles or money, it is responsibility.” The fact is just because you have a position or title does not mean that you will have the respect of your followers.
Please notice that Paul did not write to this church and demand that they respect Timothy because of his position or title. He knew that this respect would have to be earned. The words, “Be thou an example” in the Greek is “become a pattern.” What Paul was saying is:
Timothy, in all that you say in public and in private conversation, be an example.
In your behavior, be an example.
In your love for God and man, be an example.
In your faith or trust in God, be an example.
And finally, let your motives and life be pure and holy as an example to believers.
If we desire our children, spouses, friends, and neighbors to respect us, we must act in a way that is worthy of respect. As leaders we must exhibit a pattern of consistency in our Christian walk.
Questions and Reflection:
In the conversation (behavior) of our lives do we demonstrate a pattern of consistency in regard to our Christianity?
How do we show a pattern of consistency in our Christian walk?
If you are in a position of leadership and have to admonish or instruct someone who is older than you, how can you do this without this person despising your youth?